Well, it rained, it poured, then it rained a bit more! We had queued in it for 6 hours, along with the hail stones, the thunder and the lightning. And now they were about to open the gates and let us into the City of Manchester Stadium to watch the tour everyone was talking about – Take That’s “Progress”.
The excitement grew amongst the fans as our bags were searched and our tickets were checked, then one by one we were let through the turnstiles into the stadium. All we could hear were screams and shouts of excitement as we quickly walked onto the pitch, being careful not to trip and break any bones on the incredibly slippery floor!
And there we were – standing at the barrier, at the side of the B stage – the very spot we had longed to get to! The sun had come out and we were just a few hours away from seeing Gary, Mark, Howard, Jason and Robbie.
More rain followed as the Pet Shop boys did a fantastic warm up set. Soon after, the 'History Man' (as I have heard other people call him) switched on a giant computer and we all counted down the final two minutes before Take That were to come on stage. The moment was finally here, Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason greeted us with their lovely voices as they sang Rule the World… and it really did seem like Take That ruled the world that night – they were incredible.
More excitement built up as the four boys made their way towards us, down the walkway and onto the B stage. There they sang Greatest Day, where huge confetti canons fired thousands of little pieces of ticker tape high up into the air (and into my hair!), Hold Up A Light, with dancers spinning balls filled with fire (incidentally, one of the dancers was on my course at Uni... am I jealous? Yes, of course I am!), Patience and then Shine. The most colourful track of the evening, Shine was filled with the most surreal spectacles – dancing bumble bees, a familiar looking Rob-sized rabbit, and a giant pink caterpillar which carried Mark back down the walkway to the main stage. The boys disappeared into the screen where they met Robbie. Now it was his turn to entertain us!
“Let Me Entertain You” sang Robbie, and boy did he do that! The cheeky member of the band was back and he did not disappoint. He rocked us with Rock DJ and charmed us with his cheeky banter, before hailing a ‘taxi’ to ride above the crowd as he sang Feel. Of course, there was one song he could not leave out of his solo set – the incredible Angels. Whether you were a Robbie fan or not, I didn’t see a single person not singing along to this with their arms in the air.
What followed was an amazing acrobatic show on a wall of water, where the dancers recreated the picture on the Progress album cover. All five members of Take That were reunited on the highest point of the stage to sing The Flood. Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason each came down to the stage in their own mini lifts, while the showman Robbie dived onto the stage suspended by cables, Knebworth style! There they sang SOS while ‘Om’, a huge robot, was revealed and stayed seated at the back of the stage as the boys sang Underground Machine.
Back on the B stage was a life sized game of chess and a dance off between Howard and Jason as they sang Kidz with a bit of Rudebox thrown into the mix! It sounded great, it looked great, and if I was able to dance like that when I’m the other side of 40, well, I’d be very happy indeed! Back on the main stage, Gary and Robbie were lifted up on Om’s hands as they sang Pretty Things. The beautiful ballerina, Cindy, danced from the B stage and all the way up the walkway, making dancing ‘en Pointe’ in slippery conditions look so easy and so graceful!
A piano medley of the classics followed, including Million Love Songs, Babe, Everything Changes (which Robbie dedicated to his ‘new wife’ Lola – Howard’s daughter!), and ironically Back for Good – in the pouring rain – what an amazing moment! They chatted and laughed together and commented how performing back in Manchester was like performing in their own living rooms. After a group hug, the crowd went crazy as all five boys did the original dance routine to Pray – I never thought I’d see the day!!
Next, Om carried the band out onto the walkway as they sang the new single, Love Love. Om (who has had a few technical hitches in the past) was behaving himself tonight and let all five boys down to the ground without any problems…. But fair play to Om, if I had a member of Take That in my hand I wouldn’t want to put him down either!!!
We could tell the show was coming to an end when we heard the intro to Never Forget. It was a lovely acoustic sounding intro to the song, and as the song went on we saw Om rise above the crowd to a standing position, towering above the band, with his arms outstretched as if he was joining in with the routine. Wow. I felt so tiny in comparison! All five boys joined together to sing Robbie’s No Regrets, which was a very touching moment. Relight My Fire followed, with all the usual dancing, flames and fun, the twist was Robbie singing Lulu’s part, which he did a very good job of!
The final track of the show was here (sob!), but for me it was the highlight of the evening, as Howard and Jason walked down the steps from the B stage towards us and shook our hands. Gary was singing Eight Letters, a song which was written about the band, as they walked back to the main stage, thanking everyone along the way. They thanked the audience once more from the main stage and said their goodbyes. What an amazing show lads, thank you! I just have one question…. Can we do it all again next year please?!