Concert Review with PHOTOS: Take That

Photos by Leah Victoria

Photos by Leah Victoria

By Leah Victoria

Artist: Take That

Date / Venue: Wednesday November 22nd, 2017 - Trusts Arena, Auckland

I must begin with a little history of my love affair with the 90’s British boy band phenomenon. I am the original die hard Take That fan girl.

From the moment I first laid eyes on them in 1991 on their first ever UK TV appearance on The Ozone, debuting “Promises” in a photography studio set complete with backflips, baggy jeans and bomber jackets, I was in love.

Coming from a large family of siblings, the budget unfortunately never stretched to a trip to Wembley arena. Instead I made do with my monthly subscription to Smash Hits magazine, and religiously collected any poster, sticker or article I could find on them and spent many hours going square eyed in front of the TV’s music channels.

By the time that devastating press conference was aired on 13th February 1996 announcing their decision to split, there was no wallpaper or ceiling visible in my bedroom! Even my bed was made up with the duvet cover and pillow case of the Everything Changes album cover and my Mark Owen “Barbie doll” taking pride of place on the shelf. It can only be described as nothing other than a shrine.

Take That were my first true love, and my first ever experience of heartbreak! 

Formed in 1990 in Manchester UK, the original 5 piece “manufactured” boy band was born. Auditions were held in Manchester UK to find a handful of fit, handsome and talented young men with the marketing intention of driving girls all over the world wild.

Gary Barlow was cast as lead vocals and piano instrumentals. Mark Owen & Robbie Williams provided the backing vocals and harmonies while Jason Orange & Howard Donald served mostly as hunky eye candy and dancers. 

Over the space of 5 years the group dominated the world charts with 28 top 40 Singles, 12 of which reached the Number 1 top spot in the UK alone, and produced 7 Number 1 studio albums. Conquering the entirety of Europe, Australasia and Asia, they toured the world tirelessly leaving a trail of quivering lipped teary-eyed girls in their wake. They were by far the biggest selling boy band of the 90’s and a merchandisers dream.

Last night they stepped onto the stage in Auckland for the first time ever in front of a 3000 strong crowd of mostly ex pat Brits ready to re live the nostalgia of their teenage years. Not quite as large a crowd as we would have seen circa 1994 but the energy contained inside The Trusts Arena was as electric as ever!

Standing in the photo pit, armed with my camera and wearing my Junkies Baddie Powder t-shirt (thanks Mum!) in honour of my first ever boy crush, I stood at the foot of the stage and waited while trying my hardest to keep my inner 13 year olds excitement contained and play the part of professional (“grown-up”) photographer. Who am I kidding, that didn’t happen! As soon as Mark, Gary and Howard hit the stage I was one of those quivering lipped teary eyed girls all over again! 

Backed by a 5 piece live band (6 piece if you include Gary on the piano), they greeted their NZ fans with Shine, from the freshly reformed threesome’s comeback album Beautiful World, released in 2006. 

Their showmanship was as strong as ever and I could tell they were slightly surprised by the great appreciation they received from their far away fans, noting that they couldn’t believe that they’ve never visited New Zealand before now, and would love to come back! 

We were treated to a myriad of fresher sounds from their most recent years album’s such as Beautiful World, The Circus and the latest tours namesake Wonderland,before the live band left the stage and gave us some much needed alone time with our boys! It was then that Gary returned to his piano and Mark blew us away with a couple of verses from the only track he sang solo during the 90’s “Babe”. The crowd went wild! Although he left out the scandal containing final verse, was he struggling to reach those high notes these days?! Mark you were wonderful! From there on it was Skool Disco time. Allocated seating meant nothing as everyone piled forward to get a closer glimpse. We did Could It be Magic, Back For Good, Relight My Fire, Pray, A Million Love Songs, Everything Changes... all the faves from back in the day. The crowd still know all the lyrics, and the guys still rock the original dance moves. It was intense! 

I was so enthralled and totally taken aback by their presence that I completely immersed myself in the atmosphere and danced like no one was watching. I don’t do that often! No one in the audience was watching the show through their smart phone screen as is often the case at concerts these days, everyone in the room was fully present in the moment. 

Take That have still got it 26 years on, and although we ultimately would have preferred to experience all five guys onstage together, we don’t give up the hope that it might one day happen! Thanks to TEG and Blackout for bringing the guys over for us! Mark, Gary, Howard, you made dreams come true last night! Safe travels, I look forward to the next one!