Take That review – trio settle smoothly into life after Jason

Take That

There’s a feel of late-period Bee Gees to the newly streamlined group, who turn out classics and solo numbers with unfeigned verve

It’s been a while since Take That played a venue as compact as this, and dozens of hardcore fans have responded as hardcore fans must: by sleeping in front of the venue overnight. They’re rewarded with Take That’s first gig – this one for the charity War Child – since Jason Orange departed last year. Surprisingly, though, a sign in the box-office window announces that tickets are still available, which suggests Jason had more fans than anyone imagined.

Inside, however, it looks full enough, with nearly every seat occupied well before support act Ella Henderson sprints through half a dozen songs. Nominated for two Brit awards, she’s one of the strongest vocalists The X Factor has produced, but she hasn’t shed her reality-pop mannerisms, belting with the throaty gusto of someone sitting an exam in divadom.

The Take That brand has been tarnished recently by tax-avoidance allegations against Gary Barlow and the other remaining members, Mark Owen and Howard Donald, but tonight that seems to be water off a light entertainer’s back. The trio have done some mental adapting, settling so smoothly into life as a mature threesome that they’re closer in feel to the late-period Bee Gees than their rascally boyband selves.

The avuncular Barlow is still very much top dog, bagging the centre spot between Owen and Donald during the dad-dance routines, and singing two tracks from his solo albums, while the others get just one apiece. Still, the trio do the heavy lifting together, turning out classics such as Back for Good with apparently unfeigned verve. Patience, introduced as the song that launched their comeback, lushly ripples past, and Relight My Fire generates hysterical throbbing under disco spotlights. Robbie and Jason who?

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Caroline Sullivan, for The Guardian on Tuesday 24th February 2015 13.02 Europe/London

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