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Live Review: Take That – 1st July 2023 – BST Hyde Park, London, UK

9 min read

There really aren’t too many pop acts in the last 30 years that have reached the level of success or status and enjoyed such longevity as Take That. Ok, so they may have lost two members along the way, but you know what I mean.

It’s been relatively quiet on the Take That front for a little while now, with the last tour for the now-trio being the mammoth greatest hits arena tour back in 2019, although that is about to change as front-man Gary Barlow confirmed a 2024 tour is on the horizon. The band have a musical film in theatres at the moment titled The Greatest Day which they made mention of during their Hyde Park set and as part of this year’s incredible line up for BST Hyde Park, they are promising a sold out audience of 65,000 just that.

Opting to skip the daytime festivities of London Pride this year just to see this show, my wary legs have already been warmed up following last night’s lengthy Guns N Roses show but the agony was soon forgotten as the pop adrenaline was flowing and excitement led us right back to Hyde Park for one of the best lineups of the series so far.

Here at Last performs on stage at Day 5 of American Express Presents BST Hyde Park on July 1, 2023 in London, United, Kingdom. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock)

We arrived particularly early – just as gates were opening in fact – to swing backstage to say hello to rising boyband, Here At Last who we interviewed earlier in the week and who were set to perform on the Rainbow Stage. After saying hellos and getting a snap with the lads, we made sure we were front and centre for the groups performance. With boy bands being the central focus of the day thanks to headliners, Take That, it seems only appropriate the start the day with another and Here At Last were the perfect introduction to the days musical entertainment. They ran through a string of single that have been released by the band over the last year including the catchy and instrumentally stripped back Bloodshot, new single God Took His Time and a fantastic performance of All In which was co-written by none other that Danny O’Donoghue of The Script, who were set to perform later in the day on the Great Oak Stage. While the band at times seemed a little nervous, they were in fine vocal form and held down the Rainbow Stage with a not just amazing vocal talent but charismatic stage presence.

Will Young performs on stage at Day 5 of American Express Presents BST Hyde Park on July 1, 2023 in London, United, Kingdom. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock)

Heading over to the Great Oak Stage we managed to catch a few songs by Pop Idol winner Will Young. 20 years on from taking the crown on the TV reality show, he is out on the road promoting songs from that twenty year pop career however it was disappointing to hear so many covers within his brief set. Despite amazing inclusions of Jealousy and signature ballad, Leave Right Now, given he was already throwing in his versions of The Doors’ Light My Fire and Westlife’s Evergreen, starting the show with an awkward performance of Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer – a track that, in my opinion only sounds good as a recording as it is, and a mid-set throw in of Love to Love You Baby seemed almost redundant and could have easily been replaced by some of his own recordings.

Keeping ourselves at the Great Oak Stage and attempting to position ourselves closer and closer to the stage, we were incredibly excited for the next act. Returning to touring as the original lineup, Sugababes blew the crowd away with a steller set of nostalgia and new hits from their impressive garage-laced pop catalogue. Most of the big hits were played during their 45 minute set including the opening Freak Like Me, more recent hit Flatline, early classics like Overload and the infectious Push The Button as well as a gritty version of Hole in the Head; the girls effortlessly dominating the stage and in my opinion, being more suited to headlining a BST Hyde Park show than supporting. During Round Round mic stands were pulled out to recreate dance moves from the music video of the hit.

The Sugababes (L-R) Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan and Siobhán Donaghy, perform on stage on Day 5 of American Express Presents BST Hyde Park on July 1, 2023 in London, United, Kingdom. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock)

The girls looked incredible with Siobhan wearing a sparkly top with metal hearts, Mutya opting for a full camouflage number and Kiesha sporting a black jacket and cargo pants and as tight as ever as they had the who audience singing back to them during Love Actually ballad, Too Lost In You while one of the groups final hits, About You Now had everyone bouncing along to the punchy set closer. With vocals as tight and perfectly harmonised as they come, Sugababes were one of the highlights of the BST Hyde Park series and with a show penciled in at the O2 in September, a group we can’t wait to see again.

Afraid to lose our position for Take That we decided to stay put and with some of the crowd opting for a toilet break, we managed to edge ourselves a little closer to the stage before Irish outfit, The Script took the reins, crashing onto the stage with Superhero. Paying homage to fallen bandmate Mark Sheehan who died in April, images of the guitarist with his bandmates during their career appeared as a montage on the giant stage screens during the bands performance of If You Could See Me Now; frontman Danny O’Donoghue thanking the audience for their support over the last few months.

Danny O’Donoghue of The Script performs on stage on Day 5 of American Express Presents BST Hyde Park on July 1, 2023 in London, United, Kingdom. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock)

The set delivered by The Script was as close to stadium pop as you could get. Massive hits like Rain, For The First Time and Nothing were met with a rapturous applause while O’Donoghue paced the lengthy stage that extended out to the audience to get up close and personal with fans; grabbing the phone of a female fan in the crowd to call her ex and perform break-up song Nothing to a humorous response from the crowd. Hall of Fame ended the set while Danny requested the crowd to pressure BST Hyde Park organisers to the right of the stage for the Dublin band to headline next years BST Hyde Park – a wish I’m sure will come true after the outfits incredible and engaging set.

With not many in the crowd making the risky decision to head to the toilets or the bar between sets at this point, the crowd was getting tighter and tighter with the occasional punter being carried out by security due to either the heat or claustrophobic conditions. At a little before 8.30 the iconic trio appeared on stage, standing at the top of a lit up staircase, opening the show with The Flood and introducing us to a dance troupe of some 40+ professional and extremely agile dancers that would accompany much of the bands set and transform a pop concert into a orchestra of moving bodies and music.

(L-R) Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen of Take That perform on stage during Day 5 of American Express Presents BST Hyde Park on July 1, 2023 in London, United, Kingdom. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock)

Drawing attention to a series of banners that were being held up by the audience, Howard pointed out a female fan holding a sign that read “Today is my greatest day, I made it through cancer” with the giant screens showing her wiping away tears as the band dedicated their performance of The Garden to her.

While Howard, who was dressed in an eye-catching orange suite with flared pants, may have been through some of his own controversy recently, having apologized online for liking homophobic and transphobic tweets and being pulled form the line-up of Nottingham Pride as a swift result, fellow band member Mark Owen gave 3 mentions to London Pride as many fans in the crowd held rainbow flags or donned rainbow cowboy hats that were being sold on the streets of London in time for the famous parade.

(L-R) Howard Donald, Gary Barlow and Mark Owen of Take That perform on stage during Day 5 of American Express Presents BST Hyde Park on July 1, 2023 in London, United, Kingdom. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock)

Owen’s performance of Shine was a highlight as the petite singer sported a white suit and matching white top hat for the number as a 1920’s style backdrop complimented the performance. Frontman and key songwriter Gary Barlow was in fine form as he delivered some of the key Take That songs of the night; a spectacular acoustic version of Back For Good with Owen on guitar and Barlow on piano was a particularly nostalgic moment for us and had the entire crowd singing along with the superstars while their famous covers of Bee Gee’s hit How Deep Is Your Love and Barry Manilow’s Could It Be Magic also made an appearance.

(L-R) Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald of Take That perform on stage during Day 5 of American Express Presents BST Hyde Park on July 1, 2023 in London, United, Kingdom. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock)

Having not performed a show for 4 years, the band made their return to the stage a special one by adding a couple of surprise guests to the night. For their performance of Greatest Day they invited the talented (and gorgeous) Callum Scott to perform the track alongside them before making their way to the end of the extended stage to allow Scott to enjoy the moment by performing his cover of Dancing On My Own, the song that made him a household name, as Barlow provided a piano backbone; Scotts voice as perfect as ever flowing over the crowd.

For their performance of Relight My Fire, the trip appeared on stage in white fur coats and a series of fire cannons erupting; a disco vibe taking over the 65,000 strong crowd for the retro hit and welcoming the original singles guest, Lulu on stage for a phenomenal duet.

Take That perform on Day 5 of American Express Presents BST Hyde Park on July 1, 2023 in London, United, Kingdom. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock)

These Days and Take That classic, Pray were an explosion of energy; the latter injecting a heavy dose of pop nostalgia to the set, while Barlow gave a nod to Said It All mentioning it being a particularly special one for him to sing live.

As the band delivered exceptional performances of Never Forget and Rule The World, fans danced, sang and screamed so loud to the bands effortless delivery of career notables that our ears were still ringing several hours later. From start to end the show was a symphony of colour, movement, nostalgia and truly remarkable songwriting by a pop group that has dominated the pop world for over 30 years and despite losing two band members along the way, seemed as tight of a unit as ever as the hugged each other several times throughout the show and were in total sync with each other as they showed off famous dance moves and delivered flawless vocals together. An absolutely mind-blowing performance by one of the UK’s most cherish and celebrated pop acts and a very warm welcome back from a crowd that lapped up every single minute.

(L-R) Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen of Take That perform on stage during Day 5 of American Express Presents BST Hyde Park on July 1, 2023 in London, United, Kingdom. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock)

Setlist:
The Flood
These Days
Could It Be Magic (Barry Manilow cover)
Greatest Day (with Calum Scott)
Play Video
Dancing on My Own (Robyn cover) (with Calum Scott)
How Deep Is Your Love? (Bee Gees cover)
A Million Love Songs
Shine
The Garden
Patience
Pray
Said It All
Back for Good
Cry (Sigma cover)
Relight My Fire (Dan Hartman cover) (with Lulu)

Encore:
Hold Up a Light
Never Forget
Rule the World