By MANTA KLANGBOONKRONG
TAKE THAT, the most successful boy band in British history, was back in Bangkok last week after a 20-year gap that has seen the quintet break up, reunite and break up again, finally reforming as a trio featuring Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen.
Organised by new concert promoter Contango, “Take That Live in Bangkok 2016” was staged last Thursday at Impact Arena Exhibition Hall 3, Muang Thong Thani. Promptly at 8.30pm, Donald, Owen and Barlow appeared on stage in front of a decidedly modest crowd in the compact hall and belted out “Shine” from their 2007 “Beautiful World” album to loud cheers from the crowd.
“Thailand! Let me see your hands! Owen shouted and the fans were quick to raise their arms and wave them around from side to side.
Not wasting time, the “boys” – now in their mid 40s – continued their set with numbers from the early noughties that included “Greatest Day” and “Hold Up a Light”. Owen picking the latter to come down from stage to “say hi” to the fans then climbed back up to take a selfie with his band mates with the fans in the background.
The group delivered another hit, “Patience”, before going back to the ’90s with “Pray”, the first of 12 singles by the band to reach number one on the UK Singles Chart that came out in 1993 – back when the group still had two other members, Jason Orange and Robbie Williams. Fans were treated to a little routine as the boys fell into formation and put on some suave, ’90s boy band moves throughout the songs.
Feel good acoustic tunes “Up All Night” and “Said It All” from 2008’s “The Circus” came on next, followed by “Could It Be Magic”, a cover of Barry Manilow’s hit from 1975.
Owen took centre stage with a guitar in hand, belting out the folk rock ballad “Four Minute Warning” from his 2003 solo album “In Your Own Time”. While not familiar to fans, it was a welcome addition to the set. Barlow then took his turn with “Let Me Go”, an uplifting, catchy song from his 2013 solo album “Since I Saw You Last”.
Take That then took it down a notch with “The Flood” from 2010 “Progress”.
“I think it’s time for us to go simple at this point in this evening.” Barlow said. “Bring the piano out and retend we’re in your front room, singing to you.” The backup musicians disappeared, leaving Barlow on the piano and Donald and Owen beside him. “Let’s see if you remember this one.” Barlow said, as he played the intro to “A Million Love Songs” from their 1992 debut “Take That & Party” on the keys.
“Babe” from 1993’s “Everything Changes” was next followed by “How Deep Is Your Love”, their cover version of the Bee Gees’ hit. They then segued into “Back For Good”, one of the group’s best known hits from 1995. The positive, funky and danceable “These Days” from their 2014 and most recent album “III” got the crowd on their feet clapping and swaying. Take That’s famous cover of Dan Hartman’s disco hit “Relight My Fire” followed, with the fans singing and dancing along throughout the song.
The lads closed out their set with more “Rule The World” and “Never Forget” before bidding fans goodnight and promising they wouldn’t have to wait another 20 years to see them in Bangkok again.
There was a sense of strangeness at seeing Take That as a trio, but vocally and musically the reduction in numbers did nothing to tarnish the integrity of the remaining band. Much credit is due to the fact that the group has evolved and adapted through time to become a new pop group in its own right, one that is undeniably more mature but still charming and fun.