The year was 1993 and I was 12 years old. I was obsessed with Take That and one day I was absolutely, most definitely, 100% going to marry Robbie Williams. I went to see them for the very first time on Friday, 23rd July 1993 and it really was just the beginning.
If you had said to me then that 25 years later I would be watching a musical filled with all of the songs of my teenage years I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told me I would be sat, reliving the memories of growing up with and living for a boy band, I wouldn’t believe you. But this week I did just that. ‘The Band’ Musical is, without doubt, the best musical I have ever seen.
Quite simply put. If you’ve ever grown up with a boy band, you will just ‘get it’. I’m not quite sure how else to explain it. You will be transported back to that time when you woke up in the morning and you started your day with them. You get to school and they’re in your locker and on the cover of your homework diary. You’re bored in lessons and you’re scribbling I ? Robbie on any available paper you can find. You get home and you count down the minutes until they’re on Top Of The Pops. ‘The Band’ takes you back to a time where nothing was more important.
Written so brilliantly and immaculately put together by Tim Firth, ‘The Band’ tells the story of a group of teenage girlfriends who have a mutual love for their boy band. Making a pact to always be friends and to never lose touch and to always have the band as their connection. Fast forward 25 years and The Band brings them together again but this time as 40-something women, to go on more adventures, to try and meet their beloved boys and above all learn some important lessons. All this against a backdrop of Take That songs.
There were laughs, there were tears (yes, real tears!) there was singing and there was dancing. How is it possible to get all of that into two hours? All of this filled with the best music from (in my opinion) the best boy band to ever have graced the planet.
The show features an incredible cast, including the five members that were discovered on ‘Let It Shine’, the Saturday night prime time TV competition. When I watched Gary Barlow introduce the show on TV way back when I never anticipated the musical being something that would impact on me so much.
Those days as a teenager, loving a band so much, are important days. They are the coming of age and discovery years. They aren’t times you forget and they stay with you. I hadn’t realised just how much until I watched the show.
25 years ago I was a proud Take That fan. At 12 years old I knew something good when I saw it. I stand by this all this time later. As a 36-year-old Mum of one I still know a good thing when I see it and tonight I saw something amazing.
If you go and see one show this year it has to be ‘The Band’ Musical. It just has to be. If you’ve ever loved a boy band you will be drawn in and instantly transported back. You will laugh, and you will cry. You will have the time of your life.
A huge thanks must go to the wonderful cast for their amazing performances. For reenacting thousands of childhoods. For helping us relive our youth. You were incredible.
And the biggest thank you of all needs to go to the Take That boys themselves. As a teenager, you gave me some of the best years and the best memories. Thank you for that. No one can ever take them away. And thank you for bringing it all back to life again in this wonderful musical. Life changes and we all grow up, move on and have families, but we will always have the memories and the music.
There is one thing that remains true all these years later. Everything Changes but you. And thank goodness for that.
Photography: Matt Crockett
Huge thanks go to the Birmingham Hippodrome for inviting me to see this wonderful show.