October 30, 9pm. Dubai Media City Amphitheatre.
There’s something about going to see a ’90s band that everyone loves – maybe we can just Never Forget those glory days (pun fully intended) and when it comes to old-school boy bands, it doesn’t get much better than British (man band) Take That.
Their music creates a feeling of nostalgia for many – from classic tracks Pray and Relight My Fire to the romantic pop tune Back for Good – the thoughtful lyrics are a nod to many-a-thirty-somethings’ teenage years. So it was of little surprise that the band managed to attract a 10,000-strong crowd to their first show in the UAE at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre (the second took place at Hard Rock Café in Dubai Festival City the next night). From middle-aged men and women to teenagers and kids, young and old showed up to dance and sing along to the chart-topping pop band’s feel-good music.
From the moment Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Gary Barlow stepped on stage, fans were on a high. Opening with the melodic Greatest Day from their 2008 album The Circus and Could it be Magic? – it just might have been – the band captivated the crowd. Over the next 90 minutes, the three-piece belted out classic tracks and performed a fairly cheesy but hysterical dance routine to Pray (this saw the men perform original dance moves from their 1993 music video for the song that turned them into teenage heart-throbs) and judging by the screeching from females in the audience, the handsome trio still have what it takes to win over the ladies. One showed her devotion to Barlow with a home-made sign declaring her love for the singer, which rather comically featured a picture of her and her husband on their wedding day.
For many bands that reunite after their glory days, a set list comprising classic number one hits would be a fail-safe option, but Take That played a mix of old tunes and newer material released post their 2006 reunion. In a nod to Barlow’s X Factor judging days and in an attempt to prove that there are no “main members” of the band, each of the lads took to the stage alone to perform a series of solo numbers (which saw Owen play a folksy song on an acoustic guitar) proving their musical expertise.
The set list also included anthem A Million Love Songs, with Barlow taking to the piano – cue swaying crowds, phone flashlights aloft. Everyone in the audience seemed to be having a good time, with more unsuspecting members dancing along – mostly burly gentlemen who we suspect dream of being the new fourth and fifth members of the band.
Everything from the vocals and cheesy dance moves to the stage production was on point. The concert set-up was ideal too, die-hard fans could get up close to the action with fan-pit tickets while those who preferred to sit could, on a high stand at the back of the venue with unspoilt views. Service at the bar, however, was painfully slow, with never-ending queues. Staff appeared overwhelmed, leaving customers waiting for up to 40 minutes for drinks. But all things considered, the night was a success, with many from the crowd flocking to the after-party at the nearby Media One Hotel.
The band’s second gig at the Hard Rock Café was more intimate, with a capacity for 400 people, which allowed for Owen to really show off his personality – accepting props from the audience and walking through the crowd. Both concerts came to an end with the band performing Shine and Rule the World and an encore of Never Forget. With the crowds still singing on their way out, we don’t think the city will ever forget the night Take That ruled the world. Or Dubai, at least.
The bottom line A show-stopping gig from start to finish, and a trip down memory lane.