Gary Barlow at Plymouth Pavilions, review by Helen Pearse
SUPERSTAR Gary Barlow took Plymouth by storm last night as he wowed crowds at his sell-out Pavilions gig.
The 41-year-old Take That star brought the house down with numbers spanning his incredible 20-year career – and city pop fans lapped it up.
Some of the 2,542 faithful fans queued outside the stage door for a glimpse of the star, with one fan waiting there since 10am yesterday.
But Gary was driven to the venue in a vehicle with blacked-out windows, arriving at around 6.15pm and heading straight inside.
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The one-off Plymouth Pavilions gig followed his critically-acclaimed solo shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London last year.
Multi-platinum singer-songwriter Gary was said to have been excited by playing solo for the first time in more than a year – and nobody was disappointed.
Plymouth was just his second date on a full UK and Ireland tour for the singer who has sold more than 50 million records.
He may be appearing weekly on our television screens as a member of the X Factor judging panel, but last night fans saw him do what he does best – entertain.
Impressive Brooklyn-born singer Nell Bryden warmed up the crowd with tracks from her new album Shake the Tree.
But the crowd were ready to burst by the time the main attraction appeared, greeted by screams from the audience – many of whom were there the last time he performed in the city, in 1998. And within seconds of opening number Greatest Day, they were eating out of the palm of his hand.
"Good evening, Janners!", Gary bellowed, before asking "Have I got that right?"
Take That groupies were thrilled with his renditions of chart hits A Million Love Songs and Pray – performed complete with its original dance moves.
The audience was asked to sing along to Take That classics as the singer remarked "Here we are – 22 years on."
Male spectators joined in as Gary ordered a men-only chorus of Love Ain't Here Anymore.
Meanwhile, fans of his solo work cheered for Open Road, Forever Autumn and a duet with Nell Bryden.
And the star's spellbinding set even included a medley of piano-led love songs and a swing section boasting a four-piece brass band.
He ended the first half of the show with Sing, written especially for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
During the interval, Gary tweeted about the "very lively" Pavilions crowd.
Among the fans was Heidi Kennett, a shop manager from Plympton, who said the show was "absolutely amazing". "He's still got it," the 32-year-old gushed.
Jennifer Tabb, a mum-of-five from Stoke, is a huge Gary fan. She said: "It's amazing to see him still so happy on stage all these years on."
John Ainsworth, 47, a project manager from Saltash, added: "He's such a showman that when he sang Sing, I felt I had to. And his cover of Forever Autumn was just excellent." And the highlight of the evening came as the star left the stage and walked through the ecstatic crowd singing and receiving a deluge of kisses from fans.
Marketing officer at Plymouth Pavilions, Robert Maltby said: "To attract this calibre of artist really cements our reputation within the industry."
Gary Barlow at Plymouth Pavilions, review by Helen Pearse
Three words for you, Mr Barlow: Wow, wow and wow!
I think I can safely say that was the verdict from pretty much all 2,542 people at the Plymouth Pavilions last night for his gig.
Before the superstar had even opened his mouth, the crowd had gone wild.
As he started his first set with Take That’s ‘Greatest Day’, the arena was on its feet, arms waving, and mobile phones at the ready. We were in for an awesome night.
“Good evening, Plymouth! What a lovely crowd we have got in tonight,” shouted Gary over the cheers.
“Or should I say, Good Evening Janners!”
After belting out one of his solo successes, ‘Open Road’, and introducing his six piece ban, the audience was taken on a journey back through time to the early Take That days.
“Do I have any old school fans here from back in the day?” Gary asked, before teasing us with lines from “Take That and Party”, and “Do What You Like.”
And yes, I think he had more than a few old school fans in the house. Probably many like me whose bedroom walls throughout their teenage years were covered floor to ceiling with posters of Gary, Robbie, Mark, Howard and Jason.
So the rest of the night was a pure delight, reliving the early Take That days, and right up to the present.
The second the saxophone even touched the musician’s lips, and Gary sat at the piano we knew we were in for a treat with “A Million Love Songs”, and that was followed by “Pray” complete with old school Take That dance moves – which went down an absolute storm with the fans who got the joke. As Gary dusted down his knees, he said: “Yep, I’ve still got it.”
And yes he certainly has.
Straight onto a cover of War of the World’s “Forever Autumn”, he was then joined by support act Nell Bryden for a duet of Take That’s “Like I Never Loved You At All”. Much mutual appreciation between the two performers later, and Gary was back at the piano doing what he does best with a medley (“not a mash-up”) of ballads.
Clips of “I’d Wait For Life”, “The Circus”, “Love Ain’t Here Anymore” (complete with audience participation), “Lie to Me” and “Why Can’t I Wake Up With You”, us girls were putty in his hand, as he continued with his solo single “Forever Love” and a Swing medley with a four piece brass band.
He closed the first half with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee anthem, “Sing”, joking that he was too old to do a full set in one go these days.
Barely leaving us time to calm down, Gary was back with solo singles “Sunday to Saturday” and “Wasting My Time” before the highlight of the show.
Whilst singing “Everything Changes” and feeling ‘too far away’ from the audience, Gary walked throughout the crowd to the back of the arena and around both sides. I don’t know how there weren’t more fainters, as women flung themselves at him, showering him in hugs and kisses – left looking dazed as he moved around the venue. You don’t see many performers do that!
With the atmosphere now at fever pitch following his walkabout, the star then belted out “Flood” and “Patience” before the crowd gave one of the biggest cheers of the night for “Back for Good”.
And Robbie Williams fans were also in for a treat, when Gary sang Robbie’s current number one hit “Candy” which they wrote together.
Cue manic arm waving for the next section of “Shine” and “Rule the World” before Gary said his goodbyes and headed off stage.
Back for the encore in a sparkly black jacket, it could be none other than “Never Forget”, complete timed hand waving and clapping – Take That fans knew how it went. With footage of the band performing over the years, it was as if we were back at Wembley.
“It’s been 11 years since I played here,” said Gary. “But it won’t be that long before I’m back.”
After bringing the house down with that performance, we certainly hope you’re right, Gary.