Take That + Robbie = ?


So it turns out that in between spotting aliens and UFOs – oh, and making his next album craftily entitled Reality Killed The Video Star – Robbie Williams is back in the studio with the Take Thatters, writing with his old buddies once more. Now I’ve been rolling this thought around my brain for a few days now like a lone pea on an Olympic racetrack, pondering what I think. And you know what? My thoughts are stuck in a tepid pool of indifference.
Back in the day I was a HUGE Take That fan – I bought pencil cases, posters, dolls. OK, maybe not dolls but you get the point. I was there when they opened Hanley’s HMV in 1992; I was there for the famous tours where Howard exposed his bum and Gary danced uncomfortably in devil horns; and I was there for the comeback, soaking myself in nostalgia and uplifted because the boys were back. Life was good again. Take That had returned. But then…
But then, and here’s a sentence that I never thought I’d write – then they released The Circus. And honestly, moving on from the initial bluster of “It’s Take That, oh innit brilliant?”, I realised that actually, it really wasn’t. It’s middle-aged, middle-of-the-road dross. Up All Night? Please. The Garden? With Mark singing? Really? The only stand-out bits of quality on the record are when Gary slaps everyone else out of the way and takes the reigns back for himself – on tracks like Greatest Day and The Circus – because let’s face it, he is the talented one. Sure, Jason and Howard can dance and Mark is still cute, but without Gary the That are nothing. The only other member who ever came close to challenging Gary was Robbie the Showman, which was borne out in his subsequent solo career. So while I truly don’t see the point of Robbie rejoining Take That, I do admit to a curious feeling akin to someone asking you if you wouldn’t mind a car crash happening. Go on then, so long as nobody gets hurt.
Take That have gone off the boil musically, even though they have now become National Treasures and celebrity dads. Robbie Williams has become a parody of himself and his new single is laughably bad, but not quite as bad as Mark Owen taking lead vocals on so many of Take That’s recent tracks. So to put the lot of them back together kind of scares me. Will two wrongs make a right? Only time will tell. Who knows, perhaps Robbie and Gary reuniting will inspire both of them to write quality songs again – we know that Gary’s still got it in him. It could go either way but I might cover my eyes and take a deep breath before I listen to the results…

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