Belfast Telegraph

Croke Park reaches fever pitch with Take That in town

By Edel O'Connell

Let's call it an experiment. Take one venue, two nights, five handsome men and around 150,000 very excited women. Add plenty of cocktails.

The result? Controlled chaos.

There may have been a fair proportion of husbands and boyfriends in the 150,000 crowd, but their presence was overwhelmed by excited women momentarily taking leave of their senses and threatening to spontaneously combust.

Take That were in Croke Park over the weekend — if you didn't know — and trailing in their wake was an army of yummy mummies, grinning grannies and hyperventilating teens.

Hen parties arrived by the busload yesterday, bursting with outrageously dressed women sporting stetsons, intense spray tans and sky scraping heels — all waiting for the party to start .

Chatting to them it became patently clear there was only one member of the band they were there to see — the prodigal son himself, Robbie Williams.

“My father asked me this morning if I was going to the over-40s concert,” joked Anne O'Brien from Tallaght, sporting a huge pair of pink bunny ears.

“But I told him we were going to see our Robbie. We are all so excited we are wearing these bunny ears especially for him.”

Our experiment could include an element of helping the recession momentarily disappear.

Stretch limousines — what else? — were the mode of transport last night with fans doing their best to look like A-listers.

“We’re going to do it in style tonight, so we went for a limousine,” said Wendy Stephenson from Ballybrack, Co Dublin.

Croke Park was transformed into a visual feast on a truly epic scale — a jaw-dropping 60ft robot towered above the historic stadium, providing the perfect backdrop for what is being dubbed “the greatest show on earth”.

The evening kicked off with a warm-up by the iconic Pet Shop Boys, whose scaled-down yet typically polished performance felt slightly incongruous set against the background of a performance by an ageing boyband — or should that be manband?

When superstars Gary Barlow (40), Mark Owen (38), Jason Orange (40) and Howard Donald (42) burst onto the stage they were greeted with a crowd noise like a thousand rockets being launched.

They opened with Rule the World, and you’d be forgiven for thinking they did.

This was followed up with Hold Up, A Light, Patience, Shine and Greatest Day, but despite the screams it was obvious the crowd was waiting for its favourite member.

“We've got someone joining us later,” the band screamed and a huge roar went up.

Not even explosions of ticker tape, glowing stages or dancing trees could top the collective intake of breath when Robbie Williams (37) finally appeared.

The ultimate showman belted out his hits Let Me Entertain You, Feel and Come Undone while being wheeled around in a chariot pulled by dancers, effortlessly stealing the show.

Then came the moment when 150,000 broken hearts finally came back together — the quintet stood shoulder to shoulder to perform the classics — Pray, Relight My Fire, and Back For Good. But it was difficult to hear over all the screams.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph