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[Review] Take That MEN Arena


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THE screams were half an octave lower, the clothes were a bit bigger and the hands were clutching plastic beakers of wine instead of homemade banners.


Since the people they had come to see last played together they had left school and gone out to work.


But when, towards the end of last night's show, Take That announced they would be walking into the audience, they were screaming girls again.


The group strolled in, looked at each other, and must have realised their comeback tour had just turned into a phenomenon.


"People used to wave cigarette lighters in the sky," said a wonder-struck Mark Owen, still frozen at 10 years old. "But if you hold your mobile phones up it looks like stars."


The version of Babe he sang was great. And whatever you think of Pray, It Only Takes A Minute and A Million Love Songs, updated arrangements brought them back to life.


And as an earnest Gary Barlow sat at the piano and belted out his solos, he seemed to be living out the massive pop career everyone predicted but never happened.


What about the other two? Well, they showed up and enjoyed themselves.


Grinning in his velvet suit, Howard Donald was Keith Richards meets Father Jack. Jason Orange now looks like a catalogue model dad.


The pair seemed delighted by the scale of the show around them, which included two stages, a huge cast of acrobats and dancers, death-defying stunts, a daft Beatles medley and a hologram of absent Robbie Williams, singing Could It Be Magic.


The moves were looser, and more tongue in cheek. Obviously, Gary hasn't spent the last few years taking dancing lessons, and a funny section on how to manufacture a boy band poked fun at his awkward persona.


After support act Beverley Knight joined them for Relight My Fire, the heavens opened and the band got soaked for Back For Good.


An army of assistants frantically dried the stage, and they were back for Never Forget, an hour and three quarters after they came on. It was an eye-popping show and, as long as they don't milk this tour for too long, it will be remembered as pretty-near perfect.


Liverpool Echo

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