It is always a special night when Take That are back in town.
The band, who first formed here in Manchester 30 years ago, are back for five nights at Manchester Arena this week to celebrate this milestone anniversary. Or rather the Take That Arena as it has been renamed this week in honour of the record-breaking number of concerts the lads have performed at the venue.
On the evidence of Monday night’s euphoric homecoming of Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Gary Barlow, anyone lucky enough to have a ticket are in for a treat this week.
From the moment they emerge onto stage, hatched like human Ken dolls in matching blue tracksuits from a giant orb, the ear-piercing screams pierce the sold out arena.
Belting out The Greatest Day, fans are immediately on their feet. And there they stay for the rest of the night, swaying in time, mouthing every word and raising, saluting, waving or fist pumping their arms at every request.
Let’s face it – there’s no one who feels the Take That love quite like Manchester.
And there’s so much to love about this show – it’s their greatest hits live and does exactly what it says on the tin.
The band have become known for their ever more spectacular live shows in recent years – but here it’s the music that takes centre stage.
Who needs a giant elephant or robot when we’re getting such energetic and pitch perfect performances of Do What You Like, Sure, Babe and Back For Good?
Although, because it’s a Take That Show, the high tech screens, slick staging, fabulous dancers and sparkling costumes prove a pretty penny has been lavished on every aspect of the production.
This is particularly evident on Shine when the stage comes alive with fireworks and the dancers are festooned in glitter and LED-lit tail feathers, while the boys themselves dazzle in white suits and blingy gold jackets.
How do you top that? By bringing out actual Lulu to reprise her duet with the lads on Relight My Fire, that’s how.
This show is neatly stitched together with voiceovers from the boys explaining each stage of their history – the crazy fan frenzies of the 90s, the decision to part ways in ‘96 and then of course the big noughties comeback of the manband.
They may now be a trio, but Robbie Williams makes an appearance in video form on the giant orb to sing Everything Changes while the rest of the lads niftily change their costumes, with Jason Orange appearing in the archive footage on screen.
There’s the now traditional Take That dash through the crowds to head to the second stage at the rear of the arena mid-way through the set, meaning every one gets a good old gawp at the boys along the way.
The Bee Gees also appear on the magical orb as the lads reprise an acoustic version of How Deep is Your Love – it’s like one Manc trio passing over the mantel to the TT three we have before us.
It’s a show you will want to get in early for too – as warm up comes from Newton-le-Willows’ finest Rick Astley who brings the party spirit and gets everyone nostalgic with a shout out to legendary club Mr Smith’s in Warrington.
The night ends with the Arena a starcloth of phone lights as the Manchester crowd lustily sings along to every word of Rule The World.
Surveying the sea of 17,000 elated devotees, Mark declares: “Beautiful, beautiful Manchester.”
On a night like this, it’s hard to disagree.
It Only Takes A Minute
Could It Be Magic
Out Of Our Heads
A Million Love Songs
Love Ain’t Here Anymore
Said It All
How Deep Is Your Love
Back For Good
Get Ready For It
Relight My Fire with Lulu
Rule The World
6pm – Doors open
7.25pm – Rick Astley
8.30pm – Take That