Take That star Gary Barlow thanks Sunderland for four ‘magical nights’

Gary Barlow pictured at the Stadium of Light by Echo reader Clair Knox.
Gary Barlow pictured at the Stadium of Light by Echo reader Clair Knox.
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SUNDERLAND is a smash hit with chart superstars Take That.

The five-piece played the last of four massive gigs at the Stadium of Light last night, with nearly 250,000 people packing into the venue since the Progress Live tour kicked off on Friday.

Take That star Gary Barlow said: “We have had four magical nights at the Stadium of Light. It’s been brilliant to be here.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone for being so nice to us while we’ve been here in the North East.

“Everybody we’ve met has been great.”

The Take That concerts – and a visit by America rockers Kings of Leon later this month – have pumped millions of pounds into the region’s economy.

And Rob Ballantine, of promoters SJM Concerts, promised there would be more to come.

This is the third year in succession the Stadium of Light has hosted shows – after Take That and Oasis in 2009 and Pink last year – and Rob said this summer’s gigs had cemented Sunderland’s reputation as a fixture on the concert circuit.

“The North East has once again provided Take That with the perfect start to their European Tour,” he said.

“Four sold-out stadium shows in Sunderland is a phenomenon unique to Take That and, as the shows’ promoters, we would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to the hundreds of people in Sunderland that played their part in delivering the Progress Live tour’s opening shows.

“We look forward to returning to the Stadium of Light in a couple of weeks with the Kings of Leon and again in future summers for more of the same.”

He had special praise for the close partnership between key players on Wearside such as Sunderland AFC, city council, Sunderland University, the emergency services and transport operators.

“The entire North East embraced the concerts and with the huge joined-up approach by all agencies and commercial partners I believe the audience were looked after on every aspect, resulting in the phenomenal atmosphere each night inside the stadium,” he said.

“The Stadium of Light is a phenomenal venue for concerts, providing a great experience for both the audience and the artiste. Whilst the infrastructure is first-class, the staff behind the scenes make the experience world class.”

Ken Scott, who chairs the city council’s Safety Advisory Group (SAG), said: “We are obviously delighted that over 200,000 people visited the stadium.

“It is very pleasing the huge effort and planning put in by all the agencies have proved to be successful and that will be the foundation that we can all build on for the next event – Kings of Leon.”

Northumbria Police’s Supt Bruce Storey added: “I must express my gratitude to those who attended right across the four performances. They were in terrific spirits and were very well behaved which meant there were very few issues from a policing perspective,” he said.

GET TONIGHT’S SUNDERLAND ECHO FOR A FOUR-PAGE PICTURE SPECIAL FROM THE TAKE THAT CONCERTS