The updates have been slow recently due to literally no time at all and a gruelling schedule of fun and excitement!
Thursday last week involved a wake-up call at 4.30am followed by a gentle drive to Bristol Airport to catch the 7.05am flight to Newcastle. Plans went very well apart from a small car accident on the way to the airport with much damage occurring to the car that ran into us and virtually none on the back of the Saab 93 we were in!
We were headed north to witness the ‘pre-show’ event of the massive Take That Progress tour. We were to be guests of Musical Director Mike Stevens at this exclusive and amazing final ‘dress rehearsal’ for the whole show at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland.
Having successfully checked into our hotel, we made our way by taxi to the Stadium. We nervously queued with hundreds of other people slightly uncertain whether we would be actually on the list or not. Our wait was a cold and breezy one but ultimately successful. We were allowed entry and had to promptly hand over to security our mobile phones and my camera gear! We were also asked to sign a Confidentiality Agreement making sure we divulged nothing about the show before it opened and that we took no images or recorded anything. We then made our way up to the Sunderland Hospitality Suite. Beers at £4.10 a pint meant we were in for an expensive evening!
After an hour or so we were asked to make our way down into the Stadium itself. We walked along a short corridor, through some double doors and then up some steps to enter the arena high up and about where the halfway line would normally be. The sight that greeted us was, well… totally awe inspiring. The sheer scale of the stage and set was the first thing that grabbed you. Then the intricacy of the different elements of the whole set-up. Looking at it, taking it all in, you just had a great feeling that this was going to be a special and amazing show.
We made our way down to pitch level and to the 3-400 or so seats that were laid out either side of the large cat-walk jutting out far into the middle of the ‘pitch’. Within minutes the Pet Shop Boys opened their set with all the familiar faves of years gone by. They were slick, well honed and fun to watch and listen to. The show as much a visual one as it was aural. Those of us present all politely applauded and cheered but our noise was mostly lost in the scale of the vast stadium. We felt a little pathetic stood there with an enormous stage, gigantic venue surrounding us and a massive sound but only a very small number of us trying to be heard over the huge silence.
Another hour and the main event started. The four ‘remaining’ members of Take That took to the stage and we all cheered and sang along to their recent hits. Then in flew Robbie! Wow- what a showman and what a mini set. Incredible and jaw dropping. I will not spoil the whole show and experience in any way for any future attendee but we were left thinking after eight or so songs, what on earth can they do to trump this? There was still 3/4 of the show to go! Well, believe you me, they do trump it and they do leave you knowing that you have witnessed something truly, truly special. As I mentioned on my Facebook page “Oh wow! Just wow! Totally utterly amazingly fantastically incredible! I am speechless. Totally speechless. Wow. See it whatever it takes”. And that is it really, just make sure you see it. These things do not happen very often, this is the largest Stadium tour in Europe EVER. You MUST make every effort to go and see this show, you will remember it and it will live with you for a very, very long time. See you at Wembley in a few weeks time.
My evening was made complete by managing to grab a (meaningful) handshake with both Howard and Jason as they made their way off stage at the end of the whole gig.
We hotfooted it away from the Stadium back to the Quay at Newcastle and specifically to an upmarket Hotel to hook up with our host. Mike was fascinating to listen to post the event explaining the whole concept of the show and the way it came about. He was pretty pleased with the sound and the musical side but told us there were a few ‘production’ issues along the way. After all, isn’t that what dress rehearsals are designed to iron out anyway?
At stupid o’clock we made our way back to our hotel and then got up at 4.45am to make sure we caught our (ultimately delayed grrr…) flight back to Bristol. Knackered but delighted and hoping against hope that we get the Press passes for Wembley that we so desire and need for some lovely tasty icing on our Godin project cake!