CONSIDERING he has sold well in excess of 40 million records around the world in a hugely successful career spanning over 20 years, it comes as a bit of a surprise to hear Ronan Keating say: “I feel like I’m the best version of me now and that’s a wonderful feeling.”

Earlier this year Ronan’s album Time of My Life went into the top five and in September he begins a major UK tour including two dates at Manchester Apollo.

“I’ve been very blessed to know that people are still out there and interested in listening to me,” he said. “That is very empowering.

“But I don’t take anything for granted as I’ve seen so much change in my life. I’ve lost people and been through so much that I would say to anyone you never know what is around the corner.”

From the start of our conversation you can tell that Ronan is in a very happy place. He gives off a genuinely positive energy and could easily be taken for an artist just setting out on the road rather than one of the biggest names in British music from both his days with Boyzone and subsequently as a solo artist.

Much of the credit for that he gives to his wife Storm whom he married in 2015.

“I’ve been very lucky, he said. “I’ve landed on my feet and I’m now a very content and happy man but I’ve been through times when I haven’t been.

“I went through a period in my career when I was on a conveyor belt and I had to shake that all up.

“Storm energised me and got me excited about my music again and what I’m capable of. You never know what will happen in life to make that happen, it can happen in any walk of life whether you are a plumber of a truck driver or a musician.

“Whatever you do, sometimes we go through period when we’re coasting and I was definitely coasting. But now I’m on the climb again and I’m really excited about that.”

That excitement comes through in our conversation time and again.

Looking ahead to the tour, Ronan promises that fans will have something very special to look forward to.

“Musically I’ve given the best music that I’ve ever given,” he said. “Now I’m going out on tour and I’m going to put a new setlist together with new and old songs that very exciting for me. I’m like a horse chomping at the bit, I’m ready to go.

“I was really nervous before tickets for the tour went on sale,” he said. “You never truly know what the reaction will be but I was lucky that the album went well and people reacted to it and that kind of puts you back in their heads and hearts and they then go ‘I’d like to go to that show’. If I was putting tickets on sale without any new music I think people would just say ‘oh I saw that before’ and not buy them.”

Still only 39. Ronan first shot to fame as member of Boyzone and he has an engaging honesty about his time with the band.

“It was all cloak and dagger back then,” he said. “We were definitely hiding behind a veil. We were a manufactured pop group and were catapulted into fame and it was phenomenal.

“What happened to Boyzone was out of this world. We held on tight and enjoyed every bit of it but at no stage were we allowed to flourish as musicians. It was just keep going on that train and we reaped the rewards and had an amazing time.

“I learned lot but it wasn’t til much later in my solo career that I finally said ‘enough is enough, I need to stop pretending to be something that I’m not and start being the person that I am’.

“What you see is what you get with me now and the last 24 months in particular have been such an enriching period which has allowed me to grow and show people what I’m capable of.”

Ronan also credits a spell in the musical Once in both Dublin and the West End as helping him develop as an artist.

“Standing on stage for four months every night, doing eight show a week was such a graft,” he said. “But it was a brilliant experience. I would urge anyone in my shoes to do it as I learned so much about myself.”

One thing Ronan cannot be accused of is resting on his success

“As an artist it important to stay relevant and to try and let the wheel turn and I guess I’m blessed in being able to do that,” he said. “I suppose I could coast through a tour doing the old hits but the next time I went on tour I wouldn’t sell a ticket.

“I really think I’m in my prime now. Certainly with this tour you’ll see more of the real me than ever before.

“This is the best of me and I really hope that every night I can give that to people. I’m committed to doing it right.”

Ronan Keating, Manchester Apollo, Friday, September 23 and Saturday, September 24. Details from 0844 477 7677.