Take That At Carrow Road – May 30 2019 Review
Following on from a magical two-night residency at Carrow Road in the summer of 2017, Take That’s much-anticipated return to Norwich for their Odyssey Greatest Hits tour confirmed the city’s ability to attract high profile live music events, brilliant news for all of us who live in and around Norwich.
The first five hundred lucky “Thatters” to join the queue had more than a little patience, which paid off as they gained the coveted wristband allowing them exclusive early entry and the chance to get as close to their heroes as possible. As much as I wished I could have been one of the five hundred, I was to witness Gary, Howard and Mark’s performance from the stand this time, as I had my nine-year-old son with me, excited at his first Take That live experience. I was so excited for him!
The fantastic support act was 80’s legend Rick Astley, perhaps better known these days for his internet “Rickrolling” fame. Rick had the daunting task of getting Carrow Road up and dancing, he did not fail. Now at the age of 53, he sounded as good as he did in the 80’s and knew exactly how to work the crowd with his wit and humility. His set included his classic hits as well as some up to date covers for the benefit of the younger listeners. It really felt as if all 31,000 of us inside Carrow Road were up and dancing to Never Gonna Give You Up.
It was soon time for the main event, and in true Take That style we were in suspense for some time before they made their dramatic entrance, through a spherical rotating stage which formed the centrepiece of the stage, opening the show with Greatest Day.
Unlike 2017’s Wonderland show, which was “in the round” with the stage in the centre of the pitch, the Odyssey stage was at one end of the pitch with a smaller B-stage towards the centre of the stadium. The B-stage was accessible via a walkway around which fans were packed, hopeful of the chance to touch the boys as they passed. (Did I ever tell you I once touched Gary Barlow?) However, the Odyssey show also differed from the previous tour in that it was a much simpler show; while there were dancers, there were far fewer elaborate stage displays and spectacles than there had been at Wonderland, and in their place were impressive and colourful graphics and visuals from the stage. Sitting at the back, up in the Regency Stand, we could really appreciate the scale of this and the excitement of the show.
What this meant was that the music took centre stage, and deservedly so. Gary, Mark and Howard rattled through their repertoire with all their usual energy, each song delivered flawlessly. It was soon clear that the set-list was an exact song-by-song performance of their recent Odyssey Greatest Hits album, and although there were no surprises as to what would be played next as a result, it proved how well thought out the order of the tracks on Odyssey is, probably put together with the live shows in mind.
A number of 90’s hits were clustered towards the middle of the show, and it was a pleasure to see the spotlight on Mike Stevens, Take That’s musical director since 1993, as he played saxophone for A Million Love Songs. There was quite a poignant moment when Gary asked if anyone had been present for the first arena tour they’d done (me!) and then if it was anyone’s first Take That gig (my son’s). Later, the more recent hit Cry served to liven the crowd up even more, as the boys headed onto the B-stage, where they stayed for the anthemic Said It All.
As darkness fell, the second half of the set delivered most of the band’s better known and most well-loved songs, including Patience, Back for Good and Pray. For Never Forget, the guys were joined by the lucky members of local choir Invidia Voices, and the spectacle of all 31,000 people in the crowd raising their arms and clapping in unison, which even when you’ve seen Take That as many times as I have is an overwhelming sight. Invidia Voices were also part of the next song, Relight My Fire, along with a certain female vocalist by the name of Lulu, whose arrival was clearly appreciated by the crowd.
It may be a little while until Take That tour again, but this was a great memory to take away until the next time. The now customary finale of Rule The World, illuminated by phone lights and fireworks, brought a tear to the eye. I’m not ashamed to admit that I spent most of the second half of the show crying happy tears. Here’s to at least another ten years, Howard told us. I really hope he’s right, and if so, I suspect that Carrow Road has not seen the last of Take That.
Review By Rebecca Frost.