It’s been 25 years since British boy band Take That formed and a lot has changed since then. Gone are the dodgy haircuts (yes, Gary Barlow we mean you… blonde peroxide, really?), the sleeveless tank tops have been replaced by dapper shirts and its five members have become three. The boys have become men – which means they’re really more of a man-band now than a boy band – but their cheeky charm, infectious pop and ability to fill stadium seats in their tens of thousands remains. The group have had their fair share of ups and downs over the years, too, with Robbie Williams leaving in 1995, before coming back in 2010 and calling it quits again last year along with Jason Orange, who also threw in the towel. And so it’s been left to Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald to continue the Take That legacy.
When we catch up with the trio, they are almost at the end of their European tour, following which they’ll be performing in Dubai on Friday October 30 at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre and Hard Rock Café on Saturday October 31. Ever the joker, 43-year-old Owen answers the phone saying, “Hello, Take That,” pretending to be a secretary before “patching us through” and coming on the line as himself, followed by the group’s trouble-maker, Donald, then the ever-cool Barlow, who Donald calls the “main member of the band”, to which Barlow cheekily replies, “In the words of the great Vanessa Williams, they’ve saved the best ’til last.”
After half an hour of passing the phone back and forth, and Donald showing Owen inappropriate pictures, here’s what we learn about the boys…
Barlow wants to turn back time…
“I’d like to relive the ’90s. I’d do it without worrying so much, I felt like I worried all the way through our sort of first career. I never once stopped to appreciate where we were and how well we were doing and how lucky we were. I look back and it’s like a blur now.”
…But he’s grateful the fans are still there
“After 24 years they’re still coming to watch us. I feel like I never stopped to think the first time around. I try and appreciate these moments now and to go ‘Wow, we are in the middle of Germany and there’s 10,000 people coming to see us’.”
The screaming teenage fans are now mums with kids
“In the early days, fans used to sing outside our house and shove their hands through the letterbox to try and take pictures,” says Donald. “Nowadays, they still hang outside the hotel but they are grown up with kids. They aren’t screaming, but they are very appreciative and loud.”
They are happy as a trio
“I think we’ve settled into it now,” Owen says. “If you had asked us a year ago, it was all quite strange and a little bit weird, but it feels normal now. Obviously we still miss Jason, but we know he’s happy. We are feeling very ambitious as a band, probably the most we have done in years really.”
The show will be better than Barlow’s solo Dubai gig
“I know Gazza has been to Dubai but we are much better than him on his own,” laughs Owen before Barlow interrupts, “It’s an entirely different experience. We have a great band and a great set list [which includes old favourite Could it Be Magic and newer hits Never Forget and Rule the World].”
Dhs350-1,500, October 30, Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. Dhs2,000, October 31, Hard Rock Café, Dubai Festival City, www.doneevents.com.
Gary “main member” Barlow
On his icon
Sir Elton John makes him speechless
I’m lost for words around Elton. He’s just amazing and he’s a bit of a dying breed really. I don’t know who replaces people like him.
Children make him cry
I love their naivety. It brings tears to my eyes when I see them in the audience and they are going mad. I just love seeing kids displaying emotion.
On that car
A Fiat 500 was His dumbest purchase
I bought a tiny Fiat 500 – it’s as old as me, 44 years old. My plan was to drive it around London, but it would break down every time I’d try.