Review: Take That kick off their Wonderland tour in Birmingham

take that

After months of anticipation, Take That finally kicked off their Wonderland tour last night (May 5) in Birmingham’s Genting Arena. Armed with high expectations, we joined the Thatters for the opening night, but what exactly would Gary, Howard and Mark deliver this time round?

For the first time ever, the tour was “in the round”, meaning that the stage was in the middle of the arena, rather than the band’s usual B-stage set up. Dedicated fans had camped out for up to two days in order to bag a spot along the barrier, and the floor area was already fairly full by the time we arrived. Studying the whole set up from our seats set our minds racing, and we were fully prepared to be taken to Wonderland.

Prior to our favourite man band gracing the stage, we were treated to a bit of nostalgia thanks to 90s girlband All Saints. When we first heard that Shaznay, Natalie, Nicole and Mel would be supporting TT, we have to admit that we were a little underwhelmed. However, we were wrong to be. The girls delivered an incredibly slick performance which made you forget that they were just the support act.

In fact, we’d also forgotten how many incredible songs All Saints had released, including ‘I Know Where It’s At’, ‘Black Coffee’, and ‘Bootie Call’. During their set, the foursome served some beautiful harmonies and even added some dance moves to their performance. They had a great connection with each other and also interacted well with the crowd, making full use of the stage.

Highlights of their performance included ‘Never Ever’ and ‘Pure Shores’, which were probably the biggest singalong songs during their set. We also loved that they performed ‘One Strike’, one of their most recent offerings, although we were surprised that they didn’t take the opportunity to perform more of their newer material. However, the crowd seemed to fully enjoy their trip down memory lane with All Saints’ classic songs.

Despite being at the height of their fame in the 90s, All Saints are just as relevant now. The girls looked incredible, they’re full of timeless hits and also have some strong new material under their belts. It’s time they reclaim their title as one of the UK’s hottest girlbands.

All Saints Setlist

‘I Know Where It’s At’
‘Black Coffee’
‘Bootie Call’
‘Lady Marmalade’/’Push It’
‘Under The Bridge’
‘Never Ever’
‘One Strike’
‘Pure Shores’

After a thirty minute interlude, it was time for the main men to take to the stage.

IF YOU WISH TO AVOID SPOILERS THEN WE SUGGEST YOU STOP READING NOW…!

Kicking off with a stunning visual display on the screens, we knew that we were in for a breathtaking show from the off. As we’d anticipated, ‘Wonderland’ was the opening song and it set the tone for the evening perfectly. We also had the first glimpse of Gary’s newly dyed blonde ‘do (we think the Captain looks superb!), which gave us a whole load of old school feels. As Take That introduced their band during the instrumental, we were well and truly on our way to Wonderland.

Next up was fan favourite ‘Greatest Day’. It’s one of those iconic songs in which every fan knows what they should be doing with their arms during different parts of the song, therefore it’s always quite a spectacle to witness. From this, TT went straight into ‘Get Ready For It’ from their 2014 album III. We will never get sick of the sight of Howard jumping in the air whilst banging the drum! We were then brought back to the present day with a performance of their recent single ‘Giants’. We loved the use of the screens throughout, which added to their performance.

Howard Donald

In terms of the setlist, the show then took an unexpected turn. With the dancers gathered on stage as if they were preparing for a battle, a strong beat echoed across the arena which transpired to be ‘Kidz’ from their 2010 album Progress. It’s one of our favourite songs from the Progress era, so this was a pleasant surprise as we definitely didn’t expect to be hearing it on this tour. From this point on, we prepared ourselves to expect the unexpected, as they launched into ‘Underground Machine’, another song from Progress. It was great to see Howard taking charge on this song, both vocally and physically, as he led everyone around the stage before being hoisted from the ceiling.

The stage was then cleared, before a few dancers appeared with flames. As the stage was lit up with fire, we knew that it was time for ‘Relight My Fire’, one of the most iconic Take That songs of all time. We’re so glad that it still makes the setlist to this day – it will be a sad occasion if they ever decide to remove this party anthem. As usual, the crowd went wild for the song and you could see a sea of arms moving up and down during the famous “Strong enough to walk on through the night” line.

Next we returned to the present day with some more songs from Wonderland. Prior to the concert, ‘Superstar’ was one of our “must hear live” songs, and we were not left disappointed. ‘Superstar’ was every bit as euphoric as we expected – the instrumental, in particular, gave us goosebumps. Prepare to be blown away by this song live – the band’s roar will leave you feeling empowered, and we really hope that the song gets more credit in the future. It deserves to be a staple part of any TT show after this tour comes to an end.

Gary Barlow

‘Hope’ came next, and not only was it a great song to hear live, but the band accompanied it with a stunning visual. When we reviewed Wonderland back in March, we deemed ‘Hope’ as the album’s equivalent of ‘Flaws’ from III, and that we could imagine some dramatic choreography should they sing it on tour. Take That did not disappoint, although this time, they let their dancers take centre stage as they performed a beautifully captivating display of acrobatics.

As we previously mentioned, we didn’t know what to expect from the show, and next up came a medley of hits from through the years, most of which are rarely performed by the band. Songs such as ‘Beautiful World’, ‘Wait’, and ‘Satisfied’ were given a modern day revamp thanks to a sprinkling of sitar. ‘LoveLife’ and ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ completed the medley, which was a treat for any die-hard fan of the band.

As Gary, Howard and Mark went for another costume change, we were entertained by a screen visual which introduced their latest offering ‘New Day’. Huge hits ‘Shine’, ‘Back For Good’, ‘Patience’ and ‘Pray’ followed, with the band taking the time to thank the fans for still being there through the years.

One of the main highlights of the show was ‘It’s All For You’. Whilst it still isn’t one of our favourite songs from Wonderland, the band delivered a breathtaking performance, which we can only describe as a human carousel. This year’s show doesn’t have a huge ‘prop’ moment, like Progress Live’s robot Om, or III’s flying car, however, the human carousel is just jaw dropping. Just imagine Gary floating through the air on a bed! Another stunning moment came from ‘The Flood’, where the band were surrounded by a water show which created different shapes. There’s a lot to be said about these simply stunning visual displays, as they stole the show throughout.

Mark Owen

Next up was ‘Cry’, their dance collaboration with Sigma which truly set the arena alight. Having witnessed the band perform the song at Hyde Park last year, we knew it would be a special moment and it didn’t disappoint. The energy was incredible and proves that the trio are capable of delivering all kinds of songs. They rounded off the ‘end’ of the show with ‘These Days’, which has become an iconic track in their set since its release in 2014. 

Of course, no Take That show is complete without an encore, so the trio came back for two more of their biggest hits. ‘Never Forget’ never fails to be a huge moment, with every person in the arena raising their arms high during the chorus. This is usually a typical song to end the show with, however, the band opted to bring proceedings to an end with ‘Rule The World’, with the audience lighting up the arena with their phones. It resulted in a simple yet stunning end to their Wonderland spectacle.

There is no doubt that Take That are still on top of their game when it comes to stage productions. Whilst the show didn’t have a token big prop ‘wow moment’, we felt that the show in its entirety was a visual treat from start to finish. From the use of the screens, the elevating stage, the dancers, the costumes, the lighting, butterfly confetti and numerous visual props (giant swan anyone?), the whole show was very dream-like and magical. It’s safe to say that no-one puts on a visual extravaganza like Take That!

The setlist was also weirdly wonderful. We had no idea what to expect next, but we loved that it included something for every fan. The choice of songs spanned their entire career and represented all stages of TT up until the present day. Having said that, with such a huge discography, it’s impossible to please everyone with the setlist. Our only complaint is that they missed a trick by not including ‘River’ from latest album Wonderland. In our minds, it should have been a dead cert for the setlist especially as we envisioned a very junglesque performance, which would have fitted in perfectly with the various scenes throughout the night.

The “in the round” stage was a unique experience as Take That are renowned for having a main and B-stage. From our seat, we were able to see a large proportion of the action, including the stage and a huge walkway which went through one side of the crowd. Take That made full use of the stage, making sure that each member gave their attention to all sections of the arena. The “in the round” layout was effective for the human carousel and it was a nice change in terms of what we’re used to, but in the future we hope they’ll revert back to the usual set up.

What we loved the most during the show was the fact that all three members had their chance to shine. Gary is often at the forefront of songs, but both Mark and Howard had plenty of lead vocal opportunities during the evening too which was a joy to witness. The trio also shared many interactions with each other and the crowd, reminding us all why we love them so much. It’s great to see how much Take That still enjoy performing and we hope they’ll continue for many years to come.

Overall, Take That have delivered another incredible spectacle which is definitely worth witnessing (if you can get your hands on some tickets). Wonderland is certainly the place to be for the next few weeks!

Take That Setlist

‘Wonderland’
‘Greatest Day’
‘Get Ready For It’
‘Giants’
‘Kidz’
‘Underground Machine’
‘Relight My Fire’
‘Superstar’
‘Hope’
Medley: ‘Beautiful World’/’Wait’/’Satisfied’/’Love Life’/’How Deep Is Your Love’
‘New Day’
‘Shine’
‘Back For Good’
‘Patience’
‘Pray’
‘It’s All For You’
‘The Flood’
‘Cry’
‘These Days’

Encore

‘Never Forget’
‘Rule the World’

Take That

Did you go to the opening night of Take That’s tour, or are you going to see the show soon? Let us know on Twitter @CelebMix

 

 

 

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Written by Katrina Rees

I'm Katrina, or Kat to pretty much everyone. I'm a writer, charity shop manager, boyband lover and all round music fanatic.
Twitter: @lifeofkatrina
Email: katrinanaomirees@gmail.com