Now a three-piece, Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen have been the stalwarts of British pop culture for nearly 30 years – and are considerably older than a few of their newer fans at last night’s sold out show.
Over the years the boy band phenomenon has had a rollercoster ride following the tides of fashion through ridicule and popularity. With only a handful of survivors, Take That have led the way in the revival, bringing their mixture of ‘mum pop’ classics to chart-topping success over the last few decades.
Do they do this through the song-writing prowess of frontman Gary Barlow or have they mastered their craftsmanship to such accuracy that they can’t really write a bad tune? Time has certainly told that their presence is to be continually required and their music is as much appreciated now as it was in the 1990s. Time-honoured classics ride alongside their more modern entities in equal appreciation, as their album sales attest.
Supported by 80s pop wonder boy Rick Astley, who we unfortunately missed due to the sheer volume of traffic getting to the venue, the tour set-up looked amazing.
A giant spherical platform graced the centre of the stage with a massive video screen spanning the rear teased the crowd until the lights dimmed and the ball rotated to announce the entrance of Take That. And what an entrance it was! Standing high up within the ball, the guys started with super hit Greatest Day. The sheer magnitude of the production could be gauged from that song, and the rest of the performance was mesmerising.
In my 25 years of covering shows and photographing bands, I’ve only ever seen a handful of concerts that have created a show with such spectacle that I’ve been overwhelmed – and this was one of them.
The next few songs included It Only Takes a Minute, These Days and Barry Manilow cover Could It Be Magic. Only a band of their calibre can follow hit after hit with songs that you unconsciously know all the lyrics to and it wasn’t only just the ladies singing along.
Blasting out number one hits from across the last three decades, the boys showered the thousands of devoted fans with an impeccable lightshow, confetti, fireworks and jets of flames.
Love Ain’t Here Anymore and Patience had phones held in the air and arms around your neighbour while the ‘That’ changed into a plethora of costumes.
Newer songs such as Giants and Shine stood shoulder to shoulder with classics like Never Forget and Back for Good and as the pinot grigio flowed the boys pulled out a surprise appearance from Lulu to accompany them with Relight My Fire.
As the set came to an end with Pray and Rule the World, Take That unequivocally set their stall out for any other band or artist to follow that show.
From a well-thought-out stage set to an extraordinary lightshow and set list, Take That have cemented their rule of British pop music not seen since, well, The Beatles. It sounds a cheesy comparison but who else is there to compare to?
This isn’t a show to miss out on and fortunately you can see Take That’s Greatest Hits Live Tour from Principality Stadium, Cardiff – which will broadcast live into 600 cinemas across the UK and Ireland on Saturday June 8 at 8pm. For details visit www.takethat.com/livecinema