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Take That Concert Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield admires the show but not so much Robbie

Written by . Published on June 6th 2011.

Take That Concert Reviewed

THE PROGRESS tour is a strange one. Spectacular yes, entertaining absolutely, but disjointed.

Strange gig, strange man. Watching him grin like an idiot, smile, tell the audience he loved them over and over, was like watching a weird inversion of Morrissey: a Morrissey who really wants to be loved and doesn't want to offend.

The Pet Shop Boys are up first, proving they can supply pop every bit as good as Take That - and arguably better.

Then it's the four Take That boys without the man-child Robbie Williams. Then you get Williams peacocking the stage with a gig within a gig. Part four features all five original Take That members having a proper love-in - all hugs and smiles and mutual back-slapping. 

There are fireworks, lights, waterfalls, people with boxes on their heads, a strip show, a caterpillar, human chess pieces and a vast and seemingly meaningless robot.

The robot broke down on our evening leaving two of the boys having to be rescued by ladder from its mighty hands. Maybe it was confused as to what it was doing there.

The 'hits' line up and trip over themselves as the girls, women, and even the bewildered ten percent of the audience who are male, dance the night away. There's much singing along, the upper tiers of the stadium vibrate on their cantilevered supports with the energy of the jigging crowd. It's lovely.

From the various parts of the gig - go on you guess which - we get Back for Good, Shine, Re-light my Fire, Pray, Patience, Let Me Entertain You, Go West, Suburbia and the world's most tedious love song, Angels.

Yet for many real Take That fans, the ones who watched them from the start, watched them fade and return, there was a problem.

The problem was Mr R Williams.

Strange gig, strange man. Watching him tell the audience he loved them over and over, was like watching a weird inversion of Morrissey: a Morrissey who really wants to be loved and doesn't want to offend.

He has all Morrissey's apparent discomfort in his own skin yet has none of the latter's serene confidence in what he does. Robbie looks so desperate to entertain there seems nothing else to him beyond the performer. I bet alone in the house he serenades his kettle, lullabyes his slippers, expects applause from the mirror.

"Great show but there was too much Robbie," said Jenny, a long-term fan at the buffet bar at Eastlands, her friends nodding in agreement. "It was better with just the four of them, it's all about him now. Takes over."

Angie Abert over from Germany to watch the gig said, "The others seem to defer to him, seem to disappear into the background when he's on stage. They should fire him and go back to a fourpiece."

Outside The Malmaison as our party went to snaffle a last drink, one of a party of women said, "The last show, the Circus, was better than this Progress tour, more together, told a story. And the boys seemed to be enjoying themselves more. This was brilliant, but not quite as good as last time."

Others who'd been dragged along by partners and friends seemed to appreciate the man-child more. "Stole the show," said Confidential's own Gordo.

But for the fanatics, it appears that the re-arrival of Robbie Williams is a backward step, anything but progress. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield

Special thanks to the Malmaison for inviting us along - to Scott, Alison, Graham, Tracy and Grant. Gordo was there too. I wish Scott had not poured me those two pints of red wine though.

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Paul CJune 6th 2011.

Take crap and party

At the moment you can’t escape the squeals of usually sensible women going on and on about the return of Take That in the same way proper music fans would welcome the Beatles reforming.

For a pop fan like me it is profoundly depressing because they neglect one fact…Take That are utterly crap.
They are rubbish on virtually every level….dreadful songs…boring voices…no star quality…clunky dance moves….the list is pretty much endless.

I would concede that Bad for Good is a decent pop sing, but if you sat a monkey at a keyboard then eventually they would bash out a hit like that. One decent song also doesn’t prove you are any good as - after all - Coldplay managed to write Yellow.

It is worth pointing that their new stuff is even worse than their old material, which was quite bad enough thank you very much. Tuneless dirges churned out by singers wouldn’t get past the first stage of the X Factor, and bought in Tesco by people who think Mick Hucknell is a great soul singer.

I was amazed - as I suspect they were - when they announced comeback gigs that sold out in seconds, but I suppose if you are aiming at daft people who hate music then you will get bums on seats.

It was, of course, a masterstroke to make sure that their stage shows had the very best effects that money can buy. It ensured that their ‘fans’ were distracted from the awful music by loads of lights and loud bangs. This sort of primal distraction technique works for children and fans of Derren Brown.

It also made sure that their ‘fans’ would fork out £50 plus for tickets to watch five mediocre blokes strut their stuff in stadiums up and down the land.

Getting the ‘Fat Dancer’ (well said Noel) to come back was also a clever move. Fat Dancer might be a tedious self promoter, but he is a genuine pop superstar…although reviews suggest his solo slot rather slow the shows down.

Isn’t it interesting though that there isn't a similar slot for Gary Barlow’s risible solo output, which was supposed to make him the new Elton John across the globe. If that limited ambition had actually happened we wouldn’t have to endure this unspeakable crap rising from the grave once more.

I’m sure I’m not alone in appreciating the delicious irony of the Pet Shop Boys supporting Take Crap. Neil and Chris have forgotten more about pop than Gary and Fat Dancer, yet are number two on the bill. Sad beyond belief
Before the death threats start rolling in, I don’t begrudge five middle aged blokes sorting their pension plans out until they are rumbled. But don’t confuse their comeback with having any artistic merit whatsoever.

Now, if pop gods Abba were to announce a comeback tour then that would get me squealing with delight and they wouldn’t need a pathetic blow up robot and a waterfall…just their pop gems played one after another.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 7th 2011.

Sounds like one of these Northern Quarter types who raves about "new" bands until they appear in the Top 40 or have any kind of success with mainstream public, which is when they drop them and say things like "oh I discovered them years ago, their new stuff is cr*p"!

Swallow your pride, or is it jealousy, and admit that they can belt out a classic POP song better than anyone out there.

It's not all about obscure music and artists that nobody has ever heard of; sometimes, the majority is right!

Karen WilsonJune 16th 2011.

Isn't it amazing that nearly all critisism for take that comes from men.
They are 5 talented very handsome men - think it could be jealousy!!! And as for Abba omg!

SquirrelitoJune 6th 2011.

Breathe Nigel, breathe.......

1 Response: Reply To This...
tblzebraJune 6th 2011.


Lorna HooperJune 7th 2011.

Having been to every tour since they reformed I think it was pretty spectacular. Completely different to the Circus tour, but isnt that what people want? It would be a bit boring if it was the same type of concert everytime, which is why fans like myself continue to return everytime they announce a tour. And Paul C, Abba? Really? I'm sure you were amongst the "squeals of usually sensible women going on and on about the return of Mamma Mia! to Manchester"

Lorraine ByrneJune 7th 2011.

Whats wrong with the Robbie Show? He was amazing, the whole concert was fab from start to finish, and even the rain didn't dampen the sprit on Saturday night. I give them love love, love love...

SueJune 7th 2011.

Indeed it was all a spectacle but very enjoyable all the same. TT needed Robbie (to up their game)and Robbie needed TT (to make a comeback) and so they came together in the only way they could. I was one of the 56,000 people who came to see the reunion on Saturday night and I was not disappointed. The format was brilliantly choreographed with just the right amount of new Take That 4, Robbie and then Take That 5. Robbie didnt 'take over Take That', he did what he does best and although he can be a cocky little T*?! he gets away with it because he is the showman, the funny one, the one with the past, the interesting one and whether he stays or whether he goes he should be proud of his performance because it was his songs that made the upper tiers of the stadium vibrate. TT5, I love them all but if there is an XFactor then Robbie's got 'it' whether you like him or not.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 7th 2011.

Here here Sue!! An amazing show. There will always be miseries

Pop TartJune 7th 2011.

I wouldn't open my curtains to see Robbie Williams after the way he left the other boys. TT were mad to have him back.

Chris BamfordJune 10th 2011.

Great party, loved it. Robbie was great to see. I was down there with the hot sweaty mass of swollen hot milfs and nurses, and they loved it as well.

Footnote: Robbie looks seriously stressed, and more in awe of his audience than we were. I want HIM to entertain me! But it was like we were entertaining him... I loved the original confident arrogant Robbie but the stars of this particular show from start to finish are the audience.

I want my money back. ;)

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