Whilst many Nottingham students were preparing for the fun and frivolities of Summer Party, I was indulging in my guilty pop pleasure by welcoming the nation’s favourite man-band to the stage in the City of Manchester Stadium.

Amid over a whopping 55, 000 people, the level of screaming and cheering was quite overwhelming and surprisingly enough the audience wasn’t as female-dominated as you might have expected. The band themselves even commented on the healthy presence of male fans, all of whom couldn’t have been dragged along by their wives/girlfriends/sisters/daughters…It seems I wasn’t the only one giving into my guilty pleasure then!

The concert began with a number of the band’s post-reformation tracks performed by Gary, Jason, Howard and Mark. With Robbie missing from these numbers, the remaining four launched into an electric rendition of ‘Rule the World’ followed by ‘Patience’ and ‘Greatest Day’ before leaving the stage.

The bewilderment and anticipation of the crowd rose to fever pitch as Robbie flew (yes, literally) onto the thrust stage in true 007 style, complete with all black outfit and an essential yet strangely masculine safety harness. While pumping his fists and exuding his trademark rebellious charm, Robbie performed his three biggest solo hits, ‘Let me Entertain You’, ‘Rock DJ’ and ‘Come Undone’.

He left the stage looking quite frankly exhausted and a bit emotional, but the crowd’s cheers suggested that they knew what was coming next and were well warmed up for it now. From this point on the Northern Five returned to power through their well-known hits, old and more recent, with a sprinkling of their new songs taken from their Progress album, including the latest single ‘Love Love’.

The staging was bold and futuristic: the upper body of a giant robot was positioned above the stage as well as a second robot affectionately named ‘Ome’ by the group. ‘Ome’ emerged during the later parts of the show; it moved out into the audience, glowing with lights and a beating red heart and moved upwards into a standing position for an exhilarating finale with ‘Never Forget’.

A troupe of lithe dancers took on a multitude of costumed identities; from butterflies and caterpillars giving an Alice in Wonderland feel to the band’s performance of ‘Shine’, to a more monochrome look for a routine where they performed as living chess pieces to accompany the upbeat, irresistibly catchy ‘Kidz’.

On the band’s first night in front of their home crowd the only disappointment was the way some of the classic Take That oldies were condensed quite hurriedly into a brief sing-a-long medley around the piano with Gary at the helm. Expected to be bigger and better than the band’s Circus tour because of the dramatic return of Robbie, the show could have been an even more uplifting experience if more time and attention had been given to the band’s past anthems.

However, it must be remembered that rather than being a greatest hits tour these concerts are to promote a brand new album as Take That move forward once more as five. Despite this, whether you are a hardcore Take That fan, a new one or even a closet one, the spectacle of the show, the band’s polished vocal performances and the feel-good atmosphere make the experience of seeing Take That in concert something that definitely should not to be missed.

Rosie English

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