Gary Barlow @ Symphony Hall, 14 June 2018

Gary Barlow @ Symphony Hall, 14 June 2018Gary Barlow @ Symphony Hall, 14 June 2018Gary Barlow @ Symphony Hall, 14 June 2018Gary Barlow @ Symphony Hall, 14 June 2018Gary Barlow @ Symphony Hall, 14 June 2018Gary Barlow @ Symphony Hall, 14 June 2018Gary Barlow @ Symphony Hall, 14 June 2018Gary Barlow @ Symphony Hall, 14 June 2018

“Tonight we’ve gotta live for these days!” An evening with Gary Barlow at the Birmingham Symphony Hall definitely sounds like “These Days.” A brave man called the show a “Theatre show” as it was quickly shattered by the constant onslaught of confetti cannons. Little was left to the imagination as the set list was posted online before tonight. If you were hoping for a jovial evening of hits and quips then you’d better leave your “I love you Gary” poster at home. The 49 show tour had reached Birmingham and for those that hoped to remain seated tonight were cajoled into action by the jet blonde firecracker Gary B.

“These Days” ricocheted through the Symphony Hall sound system, then the curtain dropped and that Mike Stevens (Take That Director) bounced on stage, followed by his spirited 6 piece band and not forgetting his “mate” Gary Barlow. “They took my voice, erased my past” but thankfully haven’t stopped Gary Barlow performing in every venue known to man. It was more like a Take That splinter group than a solo tour. A miscellaneous collection of well-known tracks without the use of a giant elephant or dodgy haircuts. Saying that at only two songs in we were covered in confetti for “Greatest Day.” “Live those years again” really got the band moving as it took a wry look at Take That’s younger days “My appetite for singing slowly dies, replaced by an appetite for pies.”

It was the 21st anniversary of “Open Road” which sounded great with just piano and drums.Gary lost his inhibitions and got a groove on to “Pray” and sticking with the boy band theme searched the crowd for an eligible lady to sing to. Unsurprising the lady with the “I gave birth to three of my babies to your music” was swiftly avoided and a very flamboyant lady was invited to sit next to the piano. A “Million Love Songs” started well with a blazing saxophone solo from Mike Stevens but ended with lots of petting.

“Something about this night” gladly deviated from the raucous activities we had just been forced to witness. The centre song from “Finding Neverland” had a Billy Joel soft rock sound and the tinkerbell light was a nice touch. “Dare” really came alive with the very talented backing singers and sweeping piano. It was apparent the night was getting really deep which gave the backing musicians a chance to go and have a breather. “Love Aint here anymore” was a slow burner but quickly forgot about for “Sure.” A real highlight of the night, the track oozed charm and charisma and showed off the talent of the other instrumentalists on stage.

“Everything Changes” proved popular and very smoothly led into “Could It be Magic.” I was really enjoying this swing theme but there are some pop songs you can’t do in that format so it was fun while it lasted. Then all the lights went out, everyone left the stage, Gary vanished but soon reappeared for a very stripped back version of “Shine” “Said It All” started off softly and ended with a rousing finish as the band returned one by one to the stage.

After a brief costume change “Back For Good” was played and sung for what must be the 1000th time. But “It takes Patience to relight a fire” and unleashed a side to Barlow I’d never seen before. The moves had changed from dodgy 90s PJ and Duncan side steps to two stepping and raving. The very talented backing singers took centre stage for “Relight My Fire” and a song featured on the Wonderland album “Cry” which showed that Gary Barlow is still the talented versatile song writer he was 20 years ago. “Never Forget ” was the encore and signed off the night with an acapella sing along.

Reviewer: John Kirby

Photographer: Stephanie Colledge

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