Take That - Cardiff Millenium Stadium
I wouldn’t class myself as an early adopter but I first crossed paths with Take That way back in 1991 when they performed an HMV instore at Marble Arch. Scouring the place for a copy of My Bloody Valentine’s Tremelo EP I became aware that I was surrounded entirely by pre- pubescent girls and safety barriers. Take That appeared and I was locked in. Time has eased my pain, and while both HMV and MBV are emitting ghostly death rattles, Take That are going from strength to strength. Biggest tour in UK and Irish history you say? 1.7M punters rattling the turnstiles? Those pre-pubescent girls are back in pink, and this time they’ve brought their kids with them. I guess that’s Progress.
It’s been a considerable stretch since Gary, Howard, Jason, Mark and Robbie broke a nation’s hearts and simultaneously brought Childline’s telephone system to its knees. 1995. It doesn’t seem that long ago does it? Well, Fred West was public enemy #1, Richey Edwards was busy writing for the next Manics album and Eric Cantona was handing out Kung-Fu lessons to Crystal Palace fans. You’re older than you think sunshine. Believe it people, Take That, all five of them, are back onstage together for the first time in an age. Count ‘em. Er, hang on, there’s only four… what’s that all about?
Yes folks, you may have ponied up the best part of £80 plus booking fees to commune with the famous five but it doesn’t take Steven Hawking to do the math and notice that the band that’s performing opening number 'Rule The World' is missing the unpredictable Robbie Williams. Not that any one of tonight’s capacity crowd seems unduly perturbed, they even humour Mark Owen and give him a bit of the Welsh National Anthem, although by the time the roller skating bees swarm onto the stage during fifth song 'Shine' and there’s still no sign of Robbie then we’re into squeaky bum time.
All irrational fears are exploded into dust as Robbie bursts onto the stage to reclaim his territory with a monumental rendition of 'Let Me Entertain You', which sees him split his trousers with excitement. The less said about his impromptu Ryan Giggs song the better, but it’s followed by a barrage of classics which threaten to eclipse the efforts of his bandmates. Ah yes, bandmates, let’s not let the pomp and majesty of Williams rampaging towards the radiance of 'Angels' in a war chariot allow us to forget why we’re here. I’ve seen some teases in my time but we’re ten songs in before, finally, finally, all five are reunited onstage and 'The Flood' brings forth a wave (You’re fired – Ed) of emotion. So where do they go from there? Iron Maiden eat your hearts out, forget Eddie and meet OM, a gargantuan mechanical man that emerges from the gloom to bear forth the band. Cue some giant flames on the centre circle, hell yeah!
From here on in the show is a blizzard of epic set pieces and perfect pop nostalgia. Could they be Back for Good? Babe, only the most cynical heart could fail to be unmoved by the mesmerizing climactic performance of ' Never Forget' as OM towers above an adoring Welsh public. No Regrets? Fred West doesn’t know what he’s missing.