Thanks to Emos for his contribution all be it slightly provocative.
There are things that you admit to and things that you don’t. This is one that I shouldn’t but I will any way.
I went to Take That on Friday night (Hampden 24/6/2011), “it was brill” is one take on it. There is as you might appreciate another perception. Take That were rubbish.
First off it was not a voluntary act, but in all fairness despite protestation there was a little bit that thought the return to the fold of Mr Williams might bring a little edge to the proceedings and certainly the Pet Shop Boys providing the support added a level of credence to the night.
I had heard that the Take That crowd was “the biggest hen party in town”, I would probably add the caveat that the hen had quite obviously been married before and really really should have known better. The crowd certainly were women of an age, although kudos to the young lad behind us who stood out like a beacon in the mist with his ripped Biffy Clyro T-shirt.
The Pet Shop Boys took to the stage for a short set that provided a quality that previous support acts had not (yes I have been before and yes The Saturdays were awful). A surprisingly decent stage show added to by the greatest hits was well received by the crowd.It has to be noted that Neil Tennant did look as if he was morphing into Iain Hislop but that added to the show and highlighted the fact that the Pet Shop Boys have been on the go for a while.
The stage for the main act was a another multi level, complex affair that promised much in addition to the well used small stage, near the seated area. A head and arms poking out of Hampden, in a sculptured futuristic look was joined to a smaller version of a man, all very futuristic but no robotic walking elephant this time, major loss.
The stage show as a whole was no where near as coherent as previous ones and in particular Circus Tour. The futuristic theme was occasionally abandoned for set pieces such as the “candid” sing along of older hits or the eastern flavoured martial arts dance a-thon (yip it was that bad). However dancing and stunts merged together to create impressive looking events (especially the abseiling against a waterfall during Flood).A special word to the camera men and editing team, who quite clearly had been given the night off and replaced by well I am not sure, but shakey-cam and dodgy editing were rife, resulting in at times an un-watchable mess.
The act was split in three (without Robbie, Robbie on his own, then the boys together (not boys, not really men, kind of meys) although in actuality it was four as a retrospective greatest hits section finished the set.I had been unaware of the splitting of the act and so was somewhat surprised by the setup, here is me thinking that Take That would be er Take That. So the four of them came to the stage sand a quartet from the Beautiful World and enticed me to dawdle off to sleep. There seemed to be a blandness and routine, that I suspect other acts that I have seen have been able to not portray as obviously. They were almost hymn like, with the congregation singing along desperately trying to keep the faith. When the music stopped for Gary to talk to the audience it did feel like he was going to tell us that there would be tea and cake served after the service. Something needed to happen, Take That left the stage.
Robbie burst onto the scene, bursting through a TV screen and flying down from high. Let Entertain You, yes please Robbie anything was better than what it preceded. Flames flew from the stages and a bit of zip was well and truly added to the proceeding. Robbie is a showman, no doubts, engaging with the audience and the flashing woman (why oh why). His voice did seem particularly croaky initially but this did subside. There is a real contrast in the images that both parties have and the edge that Robbie has is more than welcome.
It reminded me that actually Robbie has spent more time apart from Take That, than with them, how would Robbie and the meys actually come together. In a word, badly. Progress, I think not. The songs themselves were not inspirational or memorable, but some would ask do they need to be? The interactions between them all were clearly rehearsed and I wonder if we were simply to think that this was the first time they had talked about the split, or the “hilarious” moment where a laugh was forced out about Robbie and Mark’s addiction issues.
All the special effects in the world are not going to hide the the weakness of the new collaborations, nor is any jingoistic singing of Flower of Scotland or 500 miles. It was at this point that whatever hope was left had gone, then it started raining, great. There was no fireworks at the end, echoing the tempered playing out of the last track, more petering out than the more conventional anthem.
For a Take That fan to admit that the night was a flop would be a bit like saying to a mother your baby does look a bit ugly. The fact that you don’t say it, doesn’t make it any less true.
Take That has been a great franchise but the reality is that, that’s all it is, a way of making money, you can’t help but leaving the performance feeling cynical and a little bit dirty, but not in a good way.
Ps thanks for all those that expressed concern for my well being.