I think most of us, when asked, can name a celebrity who has been around for as long as we can remember; whether it’s an actor we watched on television as a kid, or an athlete who broke world records in numerous Olympic Games, or maybe even a singer (or band) who released one of the greatest albums of all time. But whoever our choices would be, there’s somebody who immediately springs to mind.
For me, it’s Take That. I was literally a babe in arms when the band started their career and just a few years old when they announced their split in 1996, but I can still remember with startling clarity my devastation when they went their separate ways. Looking back, they were probably the source of my first heartbreak!
As time went on and I grew older, TT still held a place in my heart. I continued to listen to their albums, I perfected their dance routines and all that was needed was for the boys to get back together… So, you can imagine my delight when (way back in 2005 now), the band confirmed they were reuniting; and even though the line-up has changed slightly in recent years, Gary, Howard and Mark are still going strong. They are still enjoying what they do and making music and, as a fan, I’m so proud to also experience what is one of the most successful comebacks in music history.
2006 marked TT’s return to touring with The Ultimate Tour and ever since, I have attended every tour the band has announced. I’ve travelled to different cities for the shows, made some amazing friendships with other fans, and collected a fair amount of merchandise along the way. Every tour has its own highlights; the moments that I will never forget, but Take That’s latest tour – Greatest Hits Live – is more special. Because not only is 2019 the year I turned 30, but the lads have also been celebrating 30 years in the industry. (I said I was literally a babe in arms!)
So, Take That have been a part of my life, for my entire life, and there was absolutely no way that I was going to miss out on being a part of this celebration.
For the band’s UK leg of the tour, the support act came courtesy of Rick Astley. I was thrilled by the choice (in addition to Take That, 80s music is my jam), and he didn’t disappoint with his set. He immediately took the crowd back to his first heyday with ‘Together Forever’ before he reflected on own successful comeback, performing newer singles ‘Angels On My Side’ and ‘Try’. He also treated the fans to a really nice cover version of Rag’n’Bone Man’s ‘Giant’. Of course, no performance by Rick would be complete without the ultimate singalong, ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, which finished his set and kept the arena in a party mood until Take That appeared.
Just thirty minutes later, the house lights dimmed, the music started and my heart raced. Wide-eyed and eagerly awaiting the first glimpse of the trio, a large globe structure was suddenly illuminated high above the crowd and different graphics were projected onto its surface as it slowly rotated around 180-degrees to reveal Gary, Mark and Howard standing on its built-in stage. As cheers and screams filled the hall, the lads opened the show with the Odyssey album version of ‘Greatest Day’. It was the perfect choice to begin with and was followed with nice a throwback to the 90s with ‘It Only Takes A Minute’ – complete with 90s-style outfits and dance routine!
‘These Days’, ‘Could It Be Magic’ and ‘Everything Changes’ also made it onto the final set list which I was happy to discover, but given the number of hits Take That has garnered over the years, I’m always curious as to how they decide what songs to include and which ones to leave out when on tour. On this occasion, however, the next two hours were a gorgeous tribute to the lads’ lengthy career.
A few of their newer numbers, including a brilliant rendition of ‘Out Of Our Heads’ (honestly, if you haven’t heard it yet, go and listen here!), were included in the first-half of the gig with the other tracks very much old-school and celebrating the band’s significant back catalogue with tunes such as ‘A Million Love Songs’ and ‘Love Ain’t Here Anymore’.
One of my favourite moments of the night came during the lad’s stripped-back performance of ‘How Deep Is Your Love?’. This single was TT’s farewell to their fans in 1996, but not only did its inclusion in this setlist mark the half-way point of the concert, but it was immediately followed by ‘Patience’ – TT’s comeback hit which they released a decade later. It was such a lovely and emotional segue and reflected the journey we’d all been a part of over the years.
‘Back For Good’ is an absolute belter of a tune for Take That fans to sing together and it never fails to bring me out in goose bumps. On this night, 13,000 of us treated the band to our singalong and we all remained in voice for the slew of hits that followed, including ‘Get Ready For It’, ‘Everlasting’, and the feel-good ‘Giants’. (One TT song to get you bopping is Giants. The musical arrangement, the vocals, the pause before the chorus kicks in… everything. It’s just great.)
Another sure-fire choice to ensure everyone stayed on their feet was ‘Shine’ and the ultimate TT anthem ‘Never Forget’ similarly guaranteeing the entire arena was involved with the famous hand claps! But just when it seemed the performances couldn’t be topped, the opening beats of ‘Relight My Fire’ could be heard. At the time, it didn’t necessarily feel like anything special was going to happen – the boys gave no indication this was the case – but then the globe that the band had appeared in at the very beginning of the show once again rotated around… to reveal Lulu. Again, this was another fantastic throwback to the 90s when she featured on that single.
The penultimate song of the night was a really moving, signed performance of ‘Pray’, while there could be no other track to close a Take That gig than ‘Rule The World’.
They may be thirty years in the business this year, but the lads are every bit as brilliant now as they were in the 90s and they are definitely still ruling their fans’ world.
Take That performed at Dublin’s 3Arena on Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 April, 2019.