Belfast Telegraph

Take That, Croke Park

By John Meagher

A twenty-metre moving robot. A giant pink caterpillar. More pyrotechnics than you can shake a firework at. Support from the peerless Kings of Pop, the Pet Shop Boys . . .

Welcome to the latest installment of the Take That story — a huge extravaganza more in keeping with the U2s of this world than a manufactured boy-band. Somehow, Take That have returned far bigger than they were the first time around. And now that Robbie Williams is back, this version may even enjoy a greater lifespan.

But there's no Robbie for the first 20 minutes.

Instead, Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Jason Orange provide an exhilarating opening set that unseats the crowd and concludes with the insidiously catchy, Beatlesesque Shine, and an opportunity for Mark to steal the spotlight.

Then it's time for The Ego to land. Robbie gets the stage all to himself for another 20-minute spell and he races through some of his biggest hits, including Let Me Entertain You and Rock DJ.

His charisma may be undimmed, but Williams's pent-up performance fails to mask his off-key singing. Just as well there's a packed Croke Park to provide vocal accompaniment, especially for Angels.

It's Robbie's first appearance in this stadium since his disastrous show in 2006.

He reminds us that he promised Dublin a free gig to compensate and says he will, one day, keep his word.

The remainder of the night sees the five reunited and it's splendid.

From potent recent single, The Flood, to old favourite Back for Good — and with such crowd-pleasers like Pray and Never Forget in between — the quintet barely put a foot wrong.

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