I first fell in love with Take That when A Million Love Songs played on Top of the Pops. It must have been at the end of 1992 (I looked it up… the track was released in the October of that year) and I would have been 10 years old. That romantic saxophone, the earnest and quite innocent longing in the ballad, all captured my imagination immediately and I was a Take Thatter.
My love for the music and the boys themselves grew in tandem with the mania for the band that swept across the country – apologies to any readers Stateside, as I don’t think the boys ever broke America – with posters, magazines, temporary tattoos, and my beloved cassettes.
Thankfully, I had gone off the band and transferred my love to less clean-cut rockstars by the time Take That split up in 1996. I was spared the heartache, though I remember the playgrounds full of crying teenage girls and the helplines that had to be set up to counsel them. Frankly, I found the whole thing hilarious. I was listening to Britpop – Different Class by Pulp had been released at the end of 1995 and my musical tastes had matured so far beyond my 13 years that I am still discovering lyrics and references in that album that went WAY over my head at the time. I am fairly sure that I was in love with Liam Gallagher from Oasis in early 1996, my interest in clean-cut boybands had changed to guys who probably wouldn’t know soap and a shave if it got up and bit them.
Fast forward to 2006 – I had just started dating the man that I was going to marry, was as close to a grown-up as I was ever going to get, and Take That were back with new material. My natural skepticism towards nostalgia for this mania that I had lived through was swiftly dismissed with the first single, Patience. Whatever your feeling about Take That, whether you caught the first wave or not, whether you have any time for the second wave or not, this is a fantastic song.
My bestie, Kate, and I bonded at university over our childhood love of Take That. We would giggle our way through VHS videos of the band and reminisce about how much we had loved them for a few short years. The Beautiful World tour of 2007 was the first time that either of us had seen the band live and we loved every second of the show so much that we have not missed a tour since.
On Wednesday last week, we went to the O2 for the most recent tour, Wonderland. Each time we see them the show is more of a spectacle than the time before. We were treated to pyrotechnics, aquatechnics (if that is a thing!), and a spinning carousel of brightly coloured characters flying high above our heads with the TT boys. I spent a few hours singing along at the top of my voice, dancing, and standing dumbstruck with my chin on the ground!
I didn’t take photographs because I wanted to enjoy and experience the show in real time, not through my screen. I would like to thank those people in front of me for kindly allowing me to watch sections of the show through their screens.
Put your phones away, dummies.
Today, I would love to bake a cake for the Take That boys, members both past and present, for all of the joy that they have brought to my life over the last 25 years. Having recorded more albums now since 2006 than they did the first time around, I think we can safely assert that Take That are back for good. Their songs are full of hope and optimism and exactly what I needed to hear last week; these big new songs, interspersed with little reminders of my childhood, and peppered with those brightly-coloured pieces of paper that float down from the ceiling and get stuck in your hair and clothes like happy little mementos. What’s not to like?
I love that these shows nod and wink to the 90s without being stuck in them – the boys only do one of their original dance routines and this garners the biggest screams of the evening! The boys (now in their 40s) get fully into the spirit of the Pray routine, clearly finding the experience as deliciously funny as we do. The rest of the show is far from grown-men trying to cling onto their boyhood, but this moment is beloved and precious and we will still be paying to see this routine in another 25 years!
Thanks Take That. Thanks for the music and for all of the fun. I would love to bake you all a cake but would probably embarrass myself in doing so by going back to my 10 year old self, starstruck and all shy. You may get a squeak and a giggle out of me but know that you mean the world to me and I am proud to be a 34 year old boy/manband fan.
I’m willing to bet that you each have a childhood musical love that lingers. Bet yours isn’t a patch on mine though…