Take That - The O2
Live Review

Take That – The O2, London

Last year, when Take That took to the road, there was probably a certain amount of trepidation mixed in with the excitement among some in the audience.

Would four men the wrong side of 30 be able to hack the dance routines? Was the exercise just an attempt to shore up the pension funds of the three non-songwriters? Would they miss the energy and arrogance of Robbie Williams – by far the most famous and successful of the original lineup?

Those shows blew away such questions with a couple of hours of perfectly executed pop theatre. Nostalgia-heavy, certainly, but the boys served up the hits with panache, passion and a certain sense of style, the flawless choreography matched only by the tight live backing band that oozed class.

The question tonight was whether the group could repeat the trick a second time around in support of a – middle-aged if solid – new record without it seeming hackneyed.

In answer to that, they kick off with Beautiful World opener Reach Out and don’t really look back for the rest of the night. Most of the numbers off the new record feature in the first half the set, but most are received as rapturously as the earlier numbers by the crowd – which tonight ranges from hen night lasses who have certainly been there before to younger poseurs learning fast.

With a fair number of older songs in the setlist, Take That have the task of sticking self-consciously mature guitar-based MOR alongside hi-NRG early-90s pop hits. By updating the latter, they manage to pull it off. Relight My Fire takes elements from Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy with backing vocalist Lloyd Wade offering soulful vocals with both passion and pitch. Give Good Feeling sounds less the embarrassing plastic attempt at dance it did way back when, and – with the group all hooded up for the occasion – sounds more than passable as a great example of 00s rave.

Treadmills and a seemingly interactive projected backdrop accompanying the continuingly prescient Never Forget are the most impressive feature of a reportedly £4 million set-up, but what really matters above money is class, and that’s what tonight’s show is dripping with.

Stardust single Rule The World shows that they can keep putting out songs with big enough choruses to fill the O2 for a few years yet, but the best is saved for last, with the group’s first number one single Pray closing the night with one last singalong.

Picture courtesy of BBC.co.uk

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