TAKE That Sheffield! Superstar Gary Barlow certainly had the X Factor at the City Hall - he surprised fans with special guests Peter Kay and Eliot Kennedy, writes Graham Walker.
Not that the best-dressed man in pop, with the greatest self-penned songbook, faultless voice and flawless band needs much help.
But he got it.
Comedy legend Peter stepped up to the mic to perform a duets medley of TV themes, complete with dance routines, including the likes of Home and Away, The Love Boat and Top Cat. Priceless.
Then Sheffield’s own song king Eliot, introduced by the superstar as “my best friend in the world”, was invited up on stage to perform the Take That classic they penned 20-years ago, Everything Changes.
It was the first time they had played it together live on any stage.
SLIDESHOW: Press the play button to watch photographer Glenn Ashley’s slideshow of photographs taken at the concert.
The crowd, which was ninety per cent women - of all ages, shapes and sizes - went wild as Gary went on to deliver hit after hit.
Many of them, now in their middle years, celebrated their two decade affair with him and his boy band as they unashamedly screamed the place down.
“We love you Gary,’’ shouted a forty-something year old, who immediately realised she should have known better.
“I love you too,’’ said Gaz, who sincerely meant it. He even apologised for the steep £55 a head ticket as he thanked fans for coming out to see him on a cold November mid week night.
In returned he gave them a burst of summer - a scorching set of pop classics, featuring 18 Take That chart hits, from his opening. Greatest Day, to A Million Love Songs, The Flood, Patience, Shine and Back For Good.
The 41-year-old cheekily revisited some of the dance steps devised for a much younger Gary Barlow and barely kept a straight face as he performed their early hit, Pray.
As he dusted himself down, he said: “ I’ve still got it.”
He sure has. And then some.
With all the confidence of a man who has sold more than 50 million records, he even threw in a couple of Sinatra style swing numbers, including I’ve Got You Under My Skin and Moondance, then followed up with Candy, the number one he penned for part-time band mate Robbie Williams.
The spellbinding set, with a huge back screen used to revisit Take That music videos and nostalgic live clips, gave an Arena feel to the 2,000 seat intimate venue,as he went on to included Sing, the song he wrote and produced, with Eliot, on a round the world trip for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
He performed a medley of piano-led love songs, a duet with impressive warm-up act Nell Bryden and treated fans to Forever Autumn, his contribution on the new updated album of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds.
In his only reference to The X Factor and the departure of Rylan, Gary mused: “Well, he’s gone then. But Louis is still there!”
This night showed what he does best, as a master showman, and entertainer. Cue manic arm waving for his final goodbyes with show stopper Rule the World and encore, Never Forget.
It was certainly a night this crowd will never forget as their idol promised it won’t be another 13-years before he returns. And when you do, make it a 10-night stay, Gary - then the rest of Sheffield can get a ticket.
Fore Gary Barlow latest news. gallery, concert details and merchandise, visit his official web site at www.garybarlow.com.
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