Gary Barlow’s Edinburgh fans had their patience royally rewarded last night at The Playhouse. It had been 13 years since the Take That star had performed in the Capital, and his fans let him know they were happy to see him. Loudly.
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The screams began in earnest as the lights dimmed, heralding his appearance, and they stayed at that eardrum-destroying level throughout the entire show.
If you have the slightest idea who Gary Barlow is, then you know what to expect: sharp clothes, flawless band, wall to wall hits and spot-on performances. All present and correct, then.
From the old – A Million Love Songs and Back For Good – to the newer Candy, Rule The World and The Flood, Barlow’s songwriting inspired adoration and hand-waving from the faithful, but there was more going on than simply that.
During Pray – an early Take That hit – he cheekily revisited some of the choreography intended for a much younger Gary Barlow, barely concealing his amusement at himself. In his only reference to X-Factor, he confided – privately and intimately to the capacity audience – what he really wanted to say to one of the contestants.
Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter Nell Bryden had caught Barlow’s ear, prompting him to sign her up personally as support act for the tour. Her striking beauty and powerful voice captivated the crowd in her own set and while duetting with the star on Like I Never Loved You At All.
Despite opening the show with Greatest Day, it took until the interval for Barlow to bring up his own fairly major bit of news – being given an OBE that very morning at Buckingham Palace. Edinburgh, he suggested, was the best place to celebrate that and the crowd couldn’t have agreed more.
If there was a flaw in the show, it was simply that every song was a show-stopper. Apart from a brief piano medley, everything was turned up to 11. Barlow the X-Factor judge, might have suggested a little more pacing to Barlow the performer.
Barlow the performer ignored that and finished off with a magnificent Never Forget. Loud and proudly.