Now relocated from the original shows at the ill-fated Manchester Co-Op Live Arena (something Gary Barlow cheekily referenced during their set), the Take That ‘This Life’ tour has set up home at the rival AO Arena for what the pop sensations later revealed was not only the 50th time they’ve played the venue but the only band to have done so.

Already midway through the UK portion of the tour which runs from arenas and stadiums into mid-June, the tour sees the group joined by British pop favourite Olly Murs. Murs himself has had an eventful few weeks having become a father for the first time prior to the tour arriving in Leeds. In his usual playful mood, Murs admitted it was an honour to be sharing a stage with the group before joking that most of the crowd were wondering how long it would be before he finished and the headliners came on.

All jokes aside, the Essex pop star looked out to a sold-out arena many of whom were up and out of their seats as he encouraged the Saturday night Manchester crowd to “Dance With Me Tonight” before dropping in cheeky covers of “Let’s Twist Again” and “Shout”. Elsewhere a medley of tracks made up the middle of the set before “It Only Takes A Minute” and a glorious “Troublemaker” wrapped up this forty-minutes of “Olly!Olly!Olly!” branded fun!

Having set-up base for a run of sold-out shows in their home city, fans didn’t have to wait long before Gary, Mark and Howard appeared on stage opening with a dramatic rendition of “Keep Your Head Up” from their 2023 hit album ‘This Life’. The opener lead into “Windows” and “Giants” rounding out the first three numbers.

A career-spanning set, ‘This Life’ took Take That right back to the beginning of their careers with Gary Barlow performing a stunning version of hit single “A Million Love Songs”. Taking their fans through that journey, every segment of the show saw the group talking through the particular period, both the good and the tough times, interspersed with a huge set list of old and new cuts like “Sure”, “Pray”, and “The Flood”.

Despite it being a more stripped-back version of previous tours, it was no less of the big production that Take That fans are accustomed to. A colossal set saw everything from Bellagio style fountains to TV studio set-ups to a huge walkway descending from the roof which took the group out to the B-Stage during “Greatest Day” bringing the group up close to fans in the back of the arena.

Midway through the first half of the show, each individual member took it in turns to perform a solo track. First up was Gary Barlow performing “Forever Love” followed by Mark with “Clementine” with Howard and his unreleased single “Speak Without Words” wrapping up this portion of the show.

Heading into the home straight of this two hour extravaganza, having already been whipped up by a plethora of huge hitting pop anthems like “Patience” and “Shine”, the Manchester superstars sent the crowd home to a hatful of their biggest hits. A pyrotechnic-drenched “Relight My Fire” ramps up the heat with “Back For Good”, “Never Forget” and “Rule The World” bringing the curtain down on a night and a show that, on every level, can only be described as spectacular.

Photo Copyright © Jo Forrest

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