If you’ve read my review of The Band or know me at all then you’ll know that for me Gary Barlow is someone I have been borderline obsessed with since I was about 11! Even when he had the peroxide hair and all through his pie eating phase..
I’ve not missed a Take That tour since 1992 and I’ve never missed a Gary solo tour either. So there I was camped out at stupid o’clock on the day the tickets went on sale for this to make sure I got some decent ones 🙂
I ended up seeing this show twice while he was on his little run of the south coast – I’m hoping to go again when he does Portsmouth in a few weeks. This was the scene of my very first gig and my very first Take That gig so it’d be so nice to see him there on his own 🙂
I was lucky enough to see both of the supports announced for this tour. KT Tunstall in Brighton who was absolutely wonderful. I knew of her, I’d obviously heard her most famous stuff but didn’t realise how much of it I did know. She was brilliant. Really funny and knew how to work a crowd. I’ll be looking for tour dates for her as I’d love to see her do a show of her own. She’s brilliantly entertaining and to be honest I wasn’t overly fussed at watching her. I’m glad I did! (My seats weren’t wonderful for the Brighton show so excuse the rubbish photography)
Bournemouths support was Jason Brock, one of the contestants from Let it Shine. He was actually one of my favourites on the show so I was really looking forward to seeing what he could do.
I have to be honest. He wasn’t my cup of tea. I know he’s been in Thriller Live and the years of being MJ definitely rubbed off on his performance there was a lot of his moves in there and in some of the songs it sounded just like him. Not that it’s a bad thing but I wasn’t hugely impressed. I found him to be quite high pitched, which is great for like a chorus of a song but a bit painful on the ears when it’s a whole song. He’s an incredible vocalist but I think more on a theatrical scale than a ‘pop’ one. Too many ballads as well.
Seeing Gary on his own is a VERY different experience than seeing him with his bandmates. There’s no big stages, no special effects, no huge theatrical productions just one man, his band and his piano.
On paper it doesn’t sound hugely entertaining but he is an incredible musician. I could honestly sit for hours and hours and hours listening to him sing and play the piano.
The show started with an intro from his musical director of god knows how many years (and current member of ELO) Mike Stevens. It was a little cabaret I have to say. Made me feel like I was watching something in Vegas without the glitz.
I’ll be honest it wasn’t the big entrance I was expecting and although its always super exciting when Gary comes on stage it didn’t feel like the past tours.
The show started, as have most of the last years, with the title track of his most recent solo album ‘Since I Saw You Last’, it’s become somewhat of a fan favourite telling the story of what happened between his mostly forgotten about second solo album and this best selling one. I absolutely love this song, it’s up there with one of my favourite Gary songs so I love that he starts with it on every show. Followed by a few Take That classics and then for me the highlight of the show a new song called ‘Live Those Years Again’.
Gary is most definitely a story teller when it comes to writing and as someone that always listens to the lyrics this was always going to be something I loved. It’s a little bit swing – not something I am a big fan of him doing – but it tells the story of Take That from inception to now and with loads of the dry wit we all know and love, especially his little mention of his ‘appetite for pies’… There were a lot of cheers and laughs during this and I expect it to become a bit of an anthem for him. (I’ll post the link to the official video below so you can check it out)
In the last years he’s been involved a lot in musical theatre so it was a given that he’d stick a few of those in there which was nice to hear for us die hard fans but acted as a bar break for those who were just in it for the hits! ‘Something About This Night’ from Finding Neverland is a song I’ve loved for a while so it was so nice to hear that live, it’s so dramatic, almost sounds like Elton John could have written it.
All the Take That classics and a few lesser known album tracks were there including ‘Another Crack in My Heart’ bringing back loads of memories of me as a 14 year old standing in that same venue where they played it live for the first time ever.
Then it went a little bit weird.
Now I love Gary. I’ve said this and generally love everything he does. He’s an incredibly talented man and of course very easy on the eye. I also love swing music. I don’t love it when the 2 mix.
For the past tours he’s always added a swing section, it does go down well with the majority of the audience I have to say, but for me I’m not a fan.
I love the arrangements of the songs he chooses to do, ‘Sure’, ‘Everything Changes’ and ‘Could it be Magic’ but for me it isn’t a style that showcases just what Gary can do. He does a lot of jokes with the audience as well, exactly like the old crooners would and he is an incredible entertainer but I think I’d prefer hearing the songs done in a different way not necessarily like this.
Having seen GB a good few times some of the jokes he did on this tour for me were pretty much exactly the same as the last tour. Hilarious first time round not so much when you’ve heard it a few times.
Gary is great with the audience, he’s historically got people up on stage to sing to. ‘A Million Love Songs’ has featured one lucky lady for the last few tours. Seeing all the banners during this tour was definitely reminiscent of the 90s shows I loved so much. He reads a lot of them out and gets people up for selfies which is always a lovely moment. Sadly I’ve never been picked, although I’d be a rubbish person for him to sing to. I’d either hyperventilate or cry so probably not the best of ideas.
‘Forever Love’ has and always will be my favourite Gary song. I walked down the aisle to it when I got married last year and it never fails to give me goosebumps and make me cry when I hear it live. As always this was one of the highlights of the night for me.
The second half of this show was far stronger than the first. With such an extensive repertoire of music it must be so hard to choose what to put in a set for a show like this. For me I would have liked to hear some of the songs that he rarely plays in amoungst all the Greatest Hits some of the album tracks rather than the singles.
One song I was surprised to hear him sing was ‘Cry’. It’s not what you expect from Gary and out of all the Take That singles even though it is the most recent I would not have picked that as one he would choose to add. I loved it. The crowd went nuts as it’s one you can dance to and it was up there with one of the best bits.
The room was lit up with phones for Rule The World, bit safer than the lighters we used to use and as always the show ended with the mass dance that is ‘Never Forget’
For me this was not the best Gary tour I’ve seen. I’m not sure exactly why but it didn’t seem to ‘flow’ as well as the previous ones. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t come away like I normally do really annoyed that I don’t have tickets for another 2 or 3 shows. The show in Brighton I think was marred by the fact the seats I was told I was in weren’t actually the ones I got and I spent most of the show looking at the back of Garys – very handsome – head. Not really the most enjoyable of shows. It cast a bit of a black cloud over the whole thing.
Bournemouth was way better, I had a fab view and staff at the BIC were wonderful. I’d recommend that as a venue, it’s always brilliant there.
Gary is brilliant. If you haven’t seen him before then you will love this show, all the songs you expect to hear are there. If you have then you’ll love it too but if you’re a bit of a hardcore fan like me I think you’ll agree that there are a few songs in the set that could have been replaced with something way better from the list he has to choose from.