Reformed boy band Westlife said they were "ecstatic" and "emotional" as they kicked off their comeback tour with their first concert together in seven years.

The group - Kian Egan, Nicky Byrne, Mark Feehily and Shane Filan - recently reunited after splitting in 2012 and are due to play two concerts at Croke Park in Dublin on July 5 and 6.

Speaking immediately after the performance at Belfast's SSE Arena on Wednesday night, the opening gig of their five-night run at the venue, the band said: "We genuinely missed each other and missed the buzz of performing on stage together. It is incredible to be back.

"The Belfast crowd were unbelievable. We're ecstatic and we loved every minute of it. It was emotional at times too.

"It was amazing to see everyone singing along to our new music and other hits."

The band will be on the road with their Twenty Tour throughout June, July and August.

The tour has sold almost 700,000 tickets - a record for the band.

Westlife said: "We're going to give the fans the best tour we have ever done. We are giving everyone the best version of ourselves. This is the best job in the world."

The group opened the show with new track, Hello My Love, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

"We started coming to Belfast 20 years ago. From day one, the fans up here we’re so passionate, so dedicated and you’ve been with us every step of the way so thank you for that," Mark Feehily said from the stage."

Among the crowd in Belfast was TV presenter Jonathan Ross.