Take 2 from 5: That’s still a great show

Take That have been in danger of turning into the incredible shrinking band lately, with Robbie Williams sitting out their latest reunion and Jason Orange announcing he wouldn’t be coming back (for good).

That left the core trio of Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, and Howard Donald manning the pumps as the grizzled heart-throbs brought their latest tour to Dublin for the first date of a two-night stand.

Could their thrillingly overblown pop survive this drastic downsizing?

The group — “what’s left of Take That”, Barlow quipped — weren’t taking chances. Compensating for the reduced head-count, their latest jaunt is a full-fat affair, featuring a flying bicycle, bursts of flame, and seven dancers for every band member.

The production didn’t quite hit the ludicrous heights of their 2011 Progress tour — that one saw a giant robot looming over Croke Park — but it undoubtably gave past excesses a run for their money.

Amid so much pomp, ceremony, and fireworks, lesser pop stars might have felt overshadowed. The Willy Wonka-on-steroids backdrop was the perfect springboard for Take That, however, as they strutted and stomped through 20 years of hits.

Their touchy-feelie anthem ‘Greatest Day’ prompted an early sing-along among the sell-out crowd, an outburst of enthusiasm surpassed as they dusted down venerable hits such as ‘Could It Be Magic’ and ‘Relight My Fire’.

All married men in their 40s, it would be a bit ludicrous were Take That to carry on as if still teen pin-ups. To their credit, they seemed comfortable in their role as elder statesmen. There wasn’t much dancing by the principles, whose brightly coloured suits made them look more like refugees from a Hollywood musical than hangovers from the Smash Hits era.

[social=twitter]https://twitter.com/takethat/status/596004015873388544/social]

Across the past decade, Take That were a stadium-only affair, their shows vast open-air spectacles, so the relative intimacy of a 14,000-capacity room was refreshing.

Take That certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves, and play a second show at 3Arena Dublin tonight.

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