I have a grudging admiration for Take That. When first album Take That and Party came out in 1992 I was six years old and already listening to Black Sabbath, Nirvana and Alice In Chains.* At that point in my life I hated everything that groups like Take That stood for - though I wouldn't have been able to tell you why - and when they split up I gleefully drew their logo on a piece of A4 paper, tore it in half with the words "Take That, Take This!" written on it, and stuck it over my bed. I was, it's safe to say, Not A Fan.
Of course, when Robbie Williams released Life Through A Lens in 1997, I loved it. Just goes to show how fickle children can be. And now that I'm older, I can fully appreciate the music I hated back in '92, and I'm happy to admit that The Circus is a genuinely good album. The six-year-old inside me still vomits a little every time I admit to that, though.
Anyway. Anybody who hasn't been living under a rock since late last year will know that Take That - complete with a returned Robbie Williams - have just embarked on the biggest arena tour the UK has ever seen. @YvonneMcGruder was rather insistent that we get tickets, so we did, and last Friday I found myself in the City Of Manchester Stadium to watch the group I'd hated with a burning passion nearly 20 years ago.
It's a fantastic show, fully over-the-top with respect to what's going on on stage. It's more like being at the theatre than at a concert, and well worth the £50+ ticket price. The show is split into three parts, with the first few songs being Take That minus Robbie doing songs from The Circus. The second part features Mr. Williams on his own doing a mini-set of his own songs, and then the final part of the show is the whole group together again. There's always something going on on stage, from a massive game of battle-chess played out in the middle of the arena to some impressive abseiling up and down a waterfall and, of course, a giant robot that walks out into the middle of the crowd during 'Never Forget'.
It's very slick and very produced, which you'd expect, but for me that's the downfall of the show (and the reason I don't enjoy big arena gigs as a rule). I like to feel like the people stage care about the music they're making rather than simply performing choreography, and for me the most enjoyable parts of the show were Robbie's solo mini-set - when it was just him and a band on the main stage - and the piano medly of Million Love Songs/Babe/Everything Changes/Back For Good, when there was nothing else going on that demanded attention.
Still, it's a great show, and I'd definitely go again, it's just the kind of thing I derive a huge amount of pleasure from. On Tuesday, though, I'm going to see Trash Talk in Moho Live. A hardcore show in a 750-capacity venue? Much more me.
*In all honesty I was listening almost exclusively to Sabbath at that point. That was the year I found a cassette - remember those? - in my bedroom that contained Live Evil, and I played it so much that the tape snapped. A few years later (1996?) my parents bought me Heaven and Hell on CD. It continues to be one of my favourite albums of all time.