Take That gig reviewed by our north of England reporter…

As a weekend music special, we asked our north of England roving reporter,  "Duty Driver", to provide us a review of the mega Take That concert last week at the Sunderland football ground, the Stadium of Light. He seems to have got a bit confused as to whether he's covering a gig or a match however; but we've decided to run his report anyway for your enjoyment!

Take That, supported by the Pets Shop Boys, launched their Progress tour last Friday night at the Stadium of Light football stadium.  Sadly for a confirmed Middlesbrough fan this wasn’t Benfica in sunny Lisbon, but Sunderland in the grey cold wasteland that is Tyne & Wear.  Still the accents are just as unintelligible and your reviewer not alone this deep into “enemy territory”.  The “Black Cats bar” contained many men aged 35-50 who were similarly out of place, sober and the nominated driver for the evening.  Christmas, Birthday, Valentine and Anniversary presents were the order of the day as ladies of many different ages swooned over the stars of the show.  Their men folk showed the full range of Northern emotions from studied indifference right up to mild amusement.

56,000 fans saw the support act kicking off at 7:00 into a swirling breeze that necessitated the use of an unusual 1-2-4-1 formation.  The team sheet for the night was:

  • Keeper – “OM”, the 60 foot Robot , who didn’t have much to do until the second half
  • Back two - The Pet Shop Boys, who like the Neville brothers are less mobile than they were
  • Midfield -  Take That as a 4 piece showed pretty, neat inter-passing but without much bite
  • Lone Striker -  Robbie Williams who did very definitely entertain us
  • Take That as a 5 piece substituted in the second half and launched into almost the full “Progress” repertoire.  This was a very different style of play that made them Champions in the early 1990’s and they were a more combative and heavy weight team.  For those who like more rock n roll to the play this was preferable to the first half performance and much more Norman Hunter than Glen Hoddle.

Before full time at 11pm, all the expected chants came from the terraces, and while it wasn’t a dirty game, several members of the audience saw the physio’s bench before half time due to the sheer excitement of it all.   The referee’s whistle was all but inaudible for the complete game due to the sheer quality and volume of the play.  There were few yellow cards and no sendings off as would be expected from a testimonial match which cost £15m to stage.  The player ratings (out of 10) were:

  • OM (6) a big immobile stopper but very impressive, needs to work on its agility next season
  • Pet Shop Boys (8) excellent to see the old masters on form
  • Take That (as a four piece) (7) limited opportunities across the midfield to sparkle
  • Robbie Williams (9) the star of the show, the non drivers in the audience loved  “Angles”
  • Take That (as a five piece) (8) “The Flood” and “SOS” were surprisingly very good.

The stadium was up to the task, although the pitch didn’t take a long stud (or stiletto).  The seating was a worry as it started to shake rather uncomfortably as the crowd responded to the team.  Perhaps the audience needs to take its pre-season training more seriously next year; there were more bulges than was seemly in the tight fitting replica kits worn by the crowd.   Oh the passage of time.

Duty Driver

PS It was a Christmas present! Honest....

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