Take That shine at the AO Arena in an over-the-top spectacle of a show that we’ll never forget

Every pun intended, every costume change and mad bit of production enjoyed.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 8th May 2024

Iconic 90s boy band and homegrown heroes Take That played the first of their five-night run at the AO Arena this Tuesday night and boy do these lads know how to put on a show.

I’m going to start this off by admitting I wasn’t necessarily the biggest Take That fan going in – the hordes of huns, mums and tipsy grans firmly won that – but I did walk out with my headphones full blast listening back to all the greatest hits I’d just had brought to life in front of me in glorious technicolour.

At one point, it looked like they might not get to play their truly massive Manc arena shows after the drama with Co-op Live’s ‘opening’ fortnight was derailed but, fortunately, the AO Arena were there to rescue this week’s performances and put together the frankly barmy production in just a few days.

So, first of all, big props have to go to them and they rightly did on the night; the venue helped keep lots of people’s dream gig alive, with both the headliners themselves and support act Olly Murs encouraging a huge round of applause from the packed-out 23,000 cap arena.

‘Olly olly’ opening (yes, he did chant get the entire crowd to chant that)

Speaking of Olly, again, I can’t pretend to be the biggest Murs fan but two things are true, I knew most of the words to his biggest hits (he played a medley of his career from start to finish), and the man has bundles of energy.


He cut a George Michael and almost Harry Styles-esque figure at times (even if a few years older, sure), sprinting from one side of the stage to another, cycling through the whole roster of dance moves and giving the crowd exactly what they wanted: that cheeky chappy vibe that got him where he is.

While the 2010s UK chart-topper was a deeply unserious performer for the most part, simply having fun and pratting about as he wished – he even had a fun little stunt where people could call his number on stage – we’re not mad at it because make no mistake, he showed everyone a good time.


And it wasn’t all just playing forgotten pop tunes to his main and admittedly adoring demographic, he he paid a touching tribute to his late friend Caroline Flack with a slower ballad and gave plaudits to his live band who helped bring plenty more. And then these three other lads emerged through the fog…

Non-stop shenanigans and we loved every second of it

Quite literally, we mean: Take That’s entrance felt like some kind of weird second coming and, to be fair, it looked to be a biblical experience for the die-hards who began to scream at pitches we’ve rarely heard as they walked out to ‘Keep Your Head Up’, the opener from their last year’s album.

An obvious way to start their Manc tour dates off, we had some idea of the shenanigans about to happen after spotting a few videos on social media but in no way we’re prepared for the thematic whiplash that was about to take place. Or how much we were going to enjoy it.


We’re not joking when we say we lost track of how many costume changes there were, how many times the set design shifted from a set of stairs (think of a Vegas-style cabaret show, only at one point they were on fire) to a walkway descending from the ceiling and so much more madness.

The overarching narrative, in short, was a slightly sardonic twist on a Take That TV show, with Gary, Mark and Howard introducing and flicking through all the big moments down the years. It reminded us of The 1975 stage production at times, only a little less artsy and a bit more wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

If we had to give you a top-line summary of the show overall, it’s intentionally camp, over-the-top and often silly by design, but all with plenty of self-awareness underpinned by the lads who, just like Olly did beforehand, did nothing but have a laugh on stage. Oh, and yes, Gary did ‘the thing’, don’t you worry.

Be it marching up and down stairs in synchronicity before running out of breath when they remember they’re 50, to delivering dance routines galore and getting the rest of the band to come and sway side-to-side with everyone sitting round a sofa, they pull out of the stops when it comes to pageantry.

It also has to be said that no matter how big a Take That fan you are, hearing a full AO Arena belting out ‘Patience’, ‘The Greatest Day’, ‘Never Forget’; ‘Rule The World’, ‘Back For Good’, ‘Relight My Fire’ and oh my they really do have a shed load of absolute bangers, don’t they?…


I mean, just look at this:

Probably the best moment of the night – even if they were wearing strange, Daft Punk-type space helmets.

Read more:

Back for good? We certainly hope so

To cut a long story short, while Take That obviously wished “all the best” to the Co-op Live for when it hopefully opens next week, it felt rather fitting for them to return once again to the venue that first started playing decades ago and still how the record for having played the most shows at.

Better still, the whole bells and whistle spectacle did add something to the experience and it wasn’t as gratuitous as it perhaps looks in some of the clips that have been memed up online. Still daft, don’t get us wrong, but they know it is and it made moments when the vocals were front and centre memorable.

It doesn’t matter how many years on they are, Take That’s latest show proves exactly why your mum, grandma, auntie and probably your uncle loved them in their heyday, why it was such a big deal when they came back in the noughties and why they’re still selling out arenas to this day.

They’ve been doing this for years and they’re absolute pros – we don’t see them going away again any time soon. Roll on the next few nights!


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Featured Images: RHM Productions