Take That – Live Review – Sheffield Arena
By Matthew Walker, May 2017
Take That played Sheffield Arena for two nights as part of their ‘Wonderland’ tour, which also marks the 25th anniversary of the band’s debut studio album Take That and Party.
Although many fans had hoped that the milestone might have meant the involvement of former members Jason Orange and Robbie Williams, unfortunately this isn’t the case. Nevertheless, when remaining trio Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald’s opening gambit is ‘Wonderland’, ‘Greatest Day’ and ‘Get Ready For It’, something tells you you’re still in for a bit of a ride.
Being just a week since the horrific terrorist attack in Manchester, the show takes place amidst heightened security at Sheffield Arena. But despite the sombre reason for this, the atmosphere is one of joy and celebration.
Inside the arena, the gathering crowd is simmering with anticipation. With the band performing ‘in the round’, the stage is set for a 360 degrees experience.
“Still have some of the the classic dance magic”
Support comes from special guests All Saints, who warm the crowd up with a trip down memory lane and performances of nostalgic hits like ‘Black Coffee’, ‘Never Ever’ and ‘Pure Shores’.
Back to the main event though, after reinventing themselves as a “man band” in 2006, Take That have become renowned for their live performances, having created some of the most memorable shows in UK music history – with props including a giant elephant on the ‘Circus’ tour and a 70ft robot man for their ‘Progress’ shows.
There are screams aplenty as Gary, Mark and Howard bring the show to the audience right from the off, making use of strategically placed walkways and podiums to whip fans into a frenzy.
The guys are joined on stage by a troupe of backing dancers dressed in all manner of weird and wonderful costumes, and incorporating a range of styles, from a contemporary circus-inspired ‘Kidz’, to tribal warriors for ‘Relight My Fire’, with some ballet (‘Hope’) and casual acrobatics (‘It’s All For You’) thrown in for good measure. The lads also like to show that they’ve still got some of that classic dance magic in ‘Pray’.
“Production value is through the roof”
The visuals don’t stop there. The ‘Wonderland’ show features heavy use of lighting, pyrotechnics and projections screens to showcase a variety of scenes and visual effects, looking particularly impressive during hits like ‘Giants’ and ‘Underground Machine’, but none more impressive than the illuminated rainfall display during ‘The Flood’.
After such an assault on the senses, slower numbers like ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ provide the chance for onlookers to catch a bit of a breather, while big anthems like ‘Shine’, ‘Patience’ and ‘Back For Good’ create spectacles of their own with a sea of swaying arms and the crowd in fine voice.
It’s obviously a shame that the five is still three. But with more milestones coming up, the remaining trio always insist that the door will remain open for Messrs Williams and Orange.
For now though, master artists Barlow, Donald and Owen Rule the World as a threesome. When it comes to their shows, the production value is always through the roof and it’s clearly evident that they love what they do. ‘Wonderland’ is no different, and aside from the costume changes, the fun just doesn’t stop.
After two nights at Sheffield Arena, the tour moves on to Birmingham and London, but wherever Take That go, concert-goers can expect an experience that they will Never Forget.
Photos: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images