To a recent list that includes The Alarm, Killing for Company and The Karma Heart, I can now add Take That as a band I’ve seen perform live.
Something like 55,000 people were crammed into the Stadium of Light to see the opening night of the band’s Progress tour and the much heralded return of Robbie whatshisname...
As someone used to visiting football and rugby league grounds with just a few hundred other people for company, a crowd that size is very hard
to comprehend... until you try and bloody move anywhere. In fairness, we were expecting the worst after the “Park and Walk” turned out to be “Park and Stitch”as it took forty-five minutes to get from the “park” bit to the Stadium itself where we were greeted by so many people; I thought we’d arrived at Primark on sale day.
We’d built up quite a hunger after our ramble... which disappeared almost instantly when we saw the price list. A hot dog and a pint of lager... go on have a guess...
£8!! Eight bloody quid!!
We settled on a £2.50 sausage roll (each... we live the life) after shelling out £20 on the official programme. Saw us coming... I’ll never ignore a Big Issue seller again...
Anyway, we had good seats, but it was bitterly cold as the wind whistled through the stand. I can only assume others had sampled the sausage rolls as well. The Pet Shop Boys were on at half seven; they were crap and the only times the crowd cheered was when Neil Tennant shouted the word “Sunderland” – and when they’d finished!
And so to the main event. The band started as a foursome (and very good they sounded too) before Mr Williams appeared to a reception the like
of which I’ve never heard before. He launched into Let Me Entertain You and as “a neutral” I’d have to say his solo set was brilliant and the way he handled the crowd... masterful. A showman of the very highest quality.
The “original”line up of Take That was then reunited on stage for the first time in fifteen years, giving the crowd another chance to go berserk. Some of the newer songs didn’t really work for me, but the oldies were almost hysterically received and the sight of tens of thousands of swaying arms (to Never Forget) was something I’ll never... er... forget...
The performance, the dancers, the props, the show... all wonderful - the centrepiece was a giant (60’) man, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise (he stands up!!!).
After two and a half hours, during which we had been royally entertained (but frozen to the bone), we headed back to the car. Take That will never be my favourite band, but I can appreciate brilliance when I see it and these guys were brilliant. Really glad I went and even happier that Elaine clapped, cheered and sang through the whole thing – for me it made the seized-up back and hips totally worthwhile!
All my own work... almost.