Take That: 27, 28, 30, 31 May 2011

Pop superstars Take That took the roof off the Stadium of Light as they kicked off their European tour in emphatic style.

A capacity crowd of more than 55,000 were captivated as the band - reunited as a five-piece for the first time since 1995 - ripped through a 22-song setlist.

Preparations for the concert - the first of four nights at the SoL - were shrouded in secrecy and rightly so as the masses were blown away by some of the most advanced staging ever conceived.

But even the incredible sight of a massive hydraulic man reaching into the heavens late on couldn't take the spotlight off the band, who were evidently emotional at performing as five instead of four once again.

Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Jason Orange and Mark Owen appeared just after 8.30pm to a rapturous reception, immediately launching into 'Rule The World' and other hits including 'Patience' and 'Shine'.

But the biggest cheer of the night was undoubtedly reserved for the returning Robbie Williams when he burst onto the stage from a high wire before launching into a scintillating rendition of 'Let Me Entertain You'.

Williams, boasting a huge stage presence and a typically cocksure attitude, didn't disappoint and led fans through a solo set which included hits such as 'Come Undone' and 'Feel'.

A phalanx of dancers and superb special effects added to the occasion, including a huge torrent of water launched from the back of the stage during 'The Flood', a track from the band's latest album.

The boys, who have sold over 80 million albums between them and notched up 20 BRIT awards, then belted out a stripped-back medley of some of their classics, including 'Everything Changes', with Barlow playing along on piano.

And there was one final surprise as the band rode out into the middle of the audience to perform new single 'Love Love', Williams' 'No Regrets', 'Relight My Fire' and another new track, 'Eight Letters'.

Some fans had queued for days to catch a glimpse of their heroes and they will not have been disappointed on a night when the Stadium of Light more than lived up to its growing reputation as a top-class concert venue capable of hosting performances from the world's biggest bands.

The combination of classic hits, new material, superb choreography and that breathtaking stage made for a night to savour for the thousands in attendance.

Take That will return to the Stadium of Light on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday as part of the Progress tour, which has become the biggest-selling in UK and Irish history.

Much was expected of the pop heavyweights - particularly given the return of Williams - and they delivered to the letter on a fantastic evening of entertainment on Wearside.

Back to top