REVIEW: Take That, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

Take That
Take That

AND then there were three!

Being a band member in Take That is akin to musical chairs. First to leave was Robbie, and most recently Jason Orange hung up his microphone.

But this behemoth of a man band aren’t going to let a little thing like losing almost half the line-up get in the way of putting on a great show.

Anyone who saw the band’s spectacular shows at the Stadium of Light in 2009 and 2011 will know that this is pop band with panache. None of this standing there in jeans and T-shirts, limping their way through the set list, like anodyne boy bands who shall not be named - Take That deliver a theatrical experience of musicality.

In the smaller arena venue, their ethos of putting on a real show still shines.

Did we notice the lack of showmanship from Williams and the slick dance moves of Orange? Sort of. The 2011 Progress tour, which saw the fab five reunite, was one of the best I’ve seen. But the remaining trio - led by musical powerhouse Gary Barlow - still delivered the goods. Granted, they’ve had a quarter of a century to hone their act. Yes, Take That first emerged on the scene all fresh-faced, sporting rather fetching leather chaps and little else, in 1990.

And it was the trip down musical memory lane, making grown women regress to giddy teenagers, which we were all waiting for.

Tracks from latest album III were enjoyable enough and the visual feast was unrelenting, think Cirque du Soleil meets Alice in Wonderland meets steampunk.

“We are what’s left of Take That,” they yelled to the crowd, but three, did indeed, prove to be the magic number.

Their more recent hits, such as Shine and Rule The World, were beautifully amplified by a full orchestra while These Days saw the stage drenched in a rainbow of colour.

But Take That don’t just deliver vocals: from ethereal projections and shadow puppets to magical underwater scenes with diaphanous jellyfish floating mid-air, this was a show to remember. There’s not many men who can get away with Beetlejuice striped trousers and a cape that looks like a proggy mat, but Take That laugh in the face of sensible stage costumes.

The staging was magical from start to finish, but it was old skool Take That who really ramped up the energy in the arena and swept us up on a wave of collective nostalgia.

At first, Gary took to the piano for Could It Be Magic, before all three hip-thrusted their way through the dance moves of yore. (Thankfully, no one reading this could see my inner teenager joining in with gusto.)

Relight My Fire brought a taste of the Orient with geishas, shooting flames and sultry samurais raising the temperature.

Back For Good saw the lads take to stools and, instead of holding aloft lighters, like in the good old days, we all waved our smartphones in the air.

The anthemic Never Forget closed the show, and, much like the mantra of the song, not one of the sold out crowd had forgot a lyric or dance move.

If anyone missed tonight’s gig, fret not, the trio take to the stage again on Tuesday night and return to the venue again in June. Good things really do come in threes.