Concert review: Take That make triumphant return to Singapore

Take That members  Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen performing in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 3, 2016.
Take That members Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen performing in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 3, 2016. PHOTO: TWITTER/ MARK OWEN

British group Take That made a triumphant return to Singapore more than 20 years after their first concert here at the Indoor Stadium in 1995, this time on a driving range at the Sentosa Golf Club on Saturday (March 5) as part of the HSBC Women's Champions.

Now a three-piece - sans Robbie Williams and Jason Orange - Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald held the fort, seamlessly going through classic after classic from their almost 25 year tenure as pop stars.

Starting promptly at 7.30pm, the trio played a one-off show for 90 minutes, kicking off with the jaunty, Mark Owen-lead number, Shine.

Barlow, who usually takes on lead vocal duties in the band, sounded faultless, especially delivering on tracks that built to a euphoric high such as Greatest Day and Rule The World.

Despite the unique venue on a golf course, there were no issues with the sound throughout the night.

The band tapped into their mega smash hits early on in the set with Pray (1993) and Patience (2006), which Gary introduced as "the song that brought the band back together", referring to Take That's 10-year hiatus after their 1996 split.

Barlow and Owen even threw in material from their solo projects, with Barlow performing 2013 single Let Me Go and Owen throwing it back to 2003 with Four Minute Warning.

But the loudest cheers were saved for their popular cover songs, including Dan Hartman's Relight My Fire, Barry Manilow's Could It Be Magic, and The Bee Gees' How Deep Is Your Love. All three were big hits for the band in the 90s.

The cheers also came whenever the band, now all in their mid-forties, decided to bust a move to choreographed routines.

Straining in the stifling humidity, Barlow, ever the showman, gamely danced during Pray. The other two were far more natural dancers, but it was a commendable effort on Barlow's part.

The "dad dancing" showed up again on other songs, but it was clear that the frontman was the most comfortable behind the piano. He shone once again during a brief piano medley of Million Love Songs and Babe.

Unlike their UK or European arena tours, there were no dancers, lavish sets or moving props. The only gimmick was Owen attempting to speak to the crowd in an approximation of Mandarin, reading off a bit of paper and badly mispronouncing "xie xie" as "shay shay" after every other song.

That gimmick should have probably been left in the 90s, but the band's performance was otherwise sincere. Donald even took the microphone just before the encore of Never Forget, breathily thanking the Singapore crowd for giving them "nothing but a beautiful welcome" since they arrived on Friday afternoon.

Perhaps the band realised they were away from Singapore 20 years too long.

anjalir@sph.com.sg