Belfast Telegraph

Take That tour: Ostentatious and undeniably captivating

As is customary every time Take That return to the live stage, they’ve brought with them a visual spectacle of the kind which is designed to keep their audience telling their friends and sharing the photographs long after the event has passed.

It's an ostentatious and undeniably captivating exercise in brand strengthening which lays down the proposition that these guys are still the best there is at what they do.

Except this time, perhaps, there might have been an element of kitchen-sinking to the whole affair, of throwing everything at the wall to detract from the fact that Jason Orange’s departure last year – following on from the end of Robbie Williams’ brief return to the fold – might have left some questioning how long the ‘90s most enduring boy (now man) band have got left.

Their new show gives nothing away on that score, its visual elements echoing Gary Barlow’s one-note songwriting theme of being lifted off to a better place, although there was some admirable self-deprecation in introducing themselves as “what’s left of Take That.”

The remaining trio of Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen still convince as a trio, however, with enough difference in their voices that the latter pair’s more soulful vocals play off Barlow’s wistful baritone nicely.

In fact, it was only the gamely-tried return to their original dance moves on ‘Could It Be Magic’ and ‘Pray’ which seemed somewhat ill-fitting on three men in their forties, so successfully has Barlow made their sound more appropriate to their age in recent years.

It’s the songs from their grown-up incarnation which work best here, suited as the bullishly affirmative ‘These Days’ and ‘Rule the World’ are to soundtracking a live show with the design aesthetic of a World Cup opening ceremony.

Alongside the underwater costume theme of ‘The Garden’ and the rain effect of ‘The Flood’, ‘Relight My Fire’ is the most visually arresting component, a flurry of red-dressed, formation-dancing geishas, indoor fireworks, rope dancing and fire pits.

That ‘Portrait’ was performed by the trio on a levitating motorbike and sidecar was fun, but a rather overworked sequence which doubtless looks better in the photos than in person.

All of which adds up to an unimpeachable sense that the audience were getting their money’s worth, even as they detract from a sense of personal connection.

A relatively intimate ‘Back For Good’ (“we said we’d never do this,” said Barlow, noting the customary three high stools which had appeared next to the band) seemed small amidst this racetrack of a set, with only the closing ‘Never Forget’ combining the senses of nostalgia, youthful abandon and anthemic positivity which the show had earlier danced between.

Independent News Service


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