Gary Barlow, Royal Albert Hall - review
6 Dec 2011
Some members of Take That may have the dance moves; others the abs and the singing voices, but they only ever had one leader: Gary Barlow. And now, as an obstreperous X Factor judge he's in grave danger of being anointed as a national treasure.
Last night's show, Barlow's second this year, was in aid of the Prince's Trust. For him, his solo career is there to be occasionally rekindled, but this was a spectacular statement of intent which took in a fusillade of Take That hits- a wonderfully arranged Could It Be Magic couldn't have been more magical - some (mostly) choice covers and, as if to remind us that his original solo career was thwarted by bad luck as much as bad songs, his best efforts outside Take That, the punchy Open Road and Forever Love.
None of Barlow's fellow X Factor judges or Take That bandmates were present, but Robbie Williams's name was booed twice ("none of that; it's Christmas", chided a genuinely startled Barlow). Giddy to a woman, they screamed at Barlow, even when he wore the sort of sparkly compere's jacket Paul Daniels might welcome as a Christmas present and when, during Pray, Take Take's least lissom dancer tried a solo boy-band routine all on his own they screamed some more.
When he wandered through the crowd, pressing flesh and making hearts skip beats while singing Everything Changes, women old enough to know better found themselves young enough to be overcome with the vapours.
Apparently Barlow's X Factor protege Marcus Collins was too hoarse for his rumoured guest spot, but instead Lulu and Olly Murs were perfectly fine on Relight My Fine and Shine respectively, but Jason Donovan was electric as he hurtled through his finest moment, Too Many Broken Hearts, as Barlow demonically pounded the piano beside him.
As befits someone who honed his patter on the Working Men's Clubs of the North West before Take That, Barlow was in chatty form, but as ever, he was never slow to self-deprecate, so after reading out some adulatory banners, he added one of his own: "oi knobhead, get off the stage".
A diversion into Robbie Williams-esque swing was as ill-advised on stage as it sounds on paper. He was much more sure-footed when grappling with Van Morrison's Moondance, but the closing Never Forget was stomach-tighteningly magnificent.
Who needs X Factor? Judging this judge was simplicity itself: yes.
Details are correct at the time of publication - please check with venue before booking.
Gary Barlow: showman, singer, composer, first class musician. Someone for this country to be really proud of.
Give him a knighthood or make him a baronet!
- Magpie, a proud Londoner, London, 06/12/2011 15:17
The sad thing is that people booing at Rob's name think they're doing Gaz a pleasure.
I can't help myself but saying these people understood nothing of their relationship and they're TOTALLY unable to understand the meaning of the song texts they read.
Out ot this..
as fans, first of all you have to respect his feelings and his choices. He and Robbie are close again. Stop. It has not to be your choice as fans, it is HIS choice and just his choice. How can you allow yourselves to boo when you know he loves Rob? You can agree or disagree but it is HIS choice. It was so uneducated.
And it hurted Gary. You have to understand it hurts just the one you say you love so much.
How do you feel, when your mother doesn't like one of your friends? When your friends don't like your boy/girlfriend?
I still remember the pain on Gary's face when people booeed Rob at GB40...I will never forget..
Sad that people never learn from their own mistakes.
- EE, world's citizen, 06/12/2011 14:53
I was there last night and can only say that it was THE BEST concert I have ever been to - including all of TT's concerts too! Gary is a consumate pro and a marvellous songwriter. I admit I was one of the ones who booed at the sound of Robbie Williams name - and I stand by what I did as lets face it, he just used the boys to leach off their success and get himself back in the public eye - glad he's gone again, hopefully never to return. Mr Barlow could easily go solo now and I agree with other reviews I have read - he has improved with age enormously! Lets remember that it is Gary who the Queen has asked to be MD of her celebrations next year, so couple that with his generosity to charity events and I think HRH should consider a mention in her honours list for this brilliant 21st century composer. Thanks for a night to remember Gary!!!
- CC, Chichester, 06/12/2011 13:20