Hot on the heels of Gary Barlow’s solo gigs, the next best thing took to the stage at Sunderland Empire last night.
Ten years after performing their first ever gig at the Roker Hotel, Re-Take That played to a crowd of hundreds at the Empire.
It was a special homecoming for the Sunderland lads who’ve taken their act around the world, and have even been watched by former Take That member Jason Orange, but had never played their home city’s biggest stage - until now.
Before they took us on a trip down boyband memory lane, the show opened with a Greatest Showman-themed performance by young performers from Inspire Stage School, based at Castle View Academy. The budding stage stars put in an enthusiastic and creative re-imagining of the hit film’s score, which featured some great solo performances - especially the leopard print-clad contortionist.
From Greatest Showman to Greatest Day - it only took a minute for Re-Take That to turn up the tempo with flames and confetti as they emerged as a three-piece, minus Jason.
Brothers Paul Waite (Gary) and Peter Waite (Howard), who are joined by Dave Cross as Mark are a slick tribute act who’ve mastered the group’s mannerisms and North West accents, as well as the hits. As the real deal flashed up on the screen behind them, their doppelgängers worked their way through hits old and new, from Back for Good and Patience through to the more recent These Days and Wonderland.
They were supported by a tight group of musicians and some polished dancers with some well-choreographed routines - I particularly liked the synchronised swimming-inspired moves to The Flood.
It’s an attention to detail that flowed throughout the night, whether it be Mark’s top hat and tails for Shine or them recreating the Take That formation dance moves from the good old days.
Teenage Katy has never quite forgiven Robbie for leaving Take That, but Ross Petty who performs as Robbie Live did a sterling job of winning me round.
While the real Robbie performed at the opening ceremony of the World Cup, Sunderland’s very own Robbie put in a lively, kilt-lifting performance of some of the showman’s solo hits, from Let Me Entertain You to the anthemic Angels which was a real iPhones in the air moment.
He ditched the kilt for dungarees as he reappeared to perform with the rest of the band to take it back to where it all began with a medley of Babe, Pray, It Only Takes a Minute, Everything Changes and Promises.
For Relight My Fire they needed some girl power, which came in the form of Gemma Waite, who teaches at Inspire, who almost lifted the roof off the Empire with her powerful Lulu vocal. If only Take That songs had more female solos so we could see more of her!
For the final numbers, the lads were joined by the Inspire Stage School youngsters who provided some sweet backing vocals to Never Forget which was met by a sea of out-stretched arms doing the moves. Close your eyes and they could have been the real deal.