Last night I finished watching When Corden Met Barlow on the BBC IPlayer and it took me back in time. I sat up till well in the early hours (a perk of working from home) watching You Tube videos and being transported back to my early teens and the beginning of something I only understand now as an adult. I quite fancy a day reconnecting with my teenage self and remembering when my life was so much simpler, I hope you will indulge my trip down memory lane.
If you haven’t watched the programme its online for another week I think and I would recommend it.
So to the beginning Take That and Party released in 1992 when I was 12 years old and it was the first time I remember being interested in a band. Music was a big part of my childhood. I have happy memories of playing records, singing into hair brushes and dancing with my Mum. We always had music in the house and the car, I had chosen my own music before but Take That was different, because I felt I wanted to know everything about them.
They were good-looking boys at a time when I only thought of boys in terms of friends, I’ve always had male friends. But with Take That I wanted their pictures on my wall.
I spent my pocket-money buying any magazine they were in and cutting out articles and posters. I had reams of magazine cuttings stored in my drawers but in all honesty I rarely ever went back and read any of it, but still you had to keep it.
I remember being excited at opening the Take That and Party video compilation on Christmas morning and being so excited I had to put it straight on the TV. Back in those days I don’t remember having access to music videos like you do now, we saw small bits on the odd kids TV show or music programme but it wasn’t like it is now, we didn’t have Sky TV then. So imagine my surprise when this starts up with my younger sister, Mum and Dad in the room all sitting round opening their presents!
Even now if someone made that video and released it I think questions would be asked, I don’t know how they got away with it! I wanted the ground to swallow me up, I can still see my Dad teasing me about it now. That’s not to say I didn’t pause it a couple of times when I was home alone trying to get a better look!
Looking at the playlist now for Take That and Party there are only 3 songs that I don’t remember. 10 of the songs on the 12 song album were written or co-written by Gary Barlow, A Million Love Songs and Why Can’t I Wake Up With You being particular standouts for me. Listening to songs like A Million Love Songs now as an adult the lyrics mean so much more but back then they were just words I sung along to.
Looking at the Everything Changes playlist there are only 6 of the 13 songs I remember. I haven’t listened to TT&P or Everything Changes for years as I only have the tape versions. EC did however give us Babe and Mark’s first vocal lead which meant it automatically became my favourite. Every time I heard this song live I cried, even now I still do, don’t know why.
I begged my Mum to take me to the Everything Changes tour, the first time I would see live music and I had no idea what to expect. We got to Wembley Arena and went to our seats and I nearly died, we were 3 rows from the front, at my first concert. Take That would be so close I could almost touch them. I remember D:Ream were the support act but since Labour used Things Can Only Get Better I’ve lost my love of that song.
I remember my excitement and developing a love for how good music is live. Mark Owen was my idol, he was the one I had the most photo’s of on my walls. I don’t remember the song but I think it was Babe, I was crying and Mark happened to come over to our side of the stage, right in front of us. He looked down and motioned to me to wipe my tears, that image has stuck with me ever since and cemented my love for him. So thanks Mark, you made a young girl very happy that day!
After that concert Take That became a huge part of my young life. The thought of missing out on their tours was unbearable and luckily I didn’t miss any. They grew in popularity with every album. The song writing got better, the videos got better and received more airplay and my collection of anything Take That related grew. I think I even now I still have some of my collection.
When Nobody Else came out I was cemented as a huge fan. I can remember 4 of the 11 songs one of which is The Day After Tomorrow which is just a beautiful song, another one that reduces me to tears.
I particularly like these lyrics:
‘being loved is a big responsibility, you can never give too much back’
‘my life’s feeling crowded with possessions, am I lucky or sad?’
‘is it time now to turn away and lose everything I’ve ever had’
‘is life never easy or do we make it hard for ourselves?’
‘when it’s all over, you’ll always feel the need to be loved, like she’d always loved you’,
Listen to the song in full and tell me Gary Barlow can’t write a song!
Listening back to that song as an adult I can appreciate what he is trying to say. Love can be a complicated and messy thing and people get hurt along the way but sometimes great music can help.
I saw the Nobody Else tour a couple of times. I remember going to Wembley Arena with my friends, my Mum had made me a long shirt to wear like they wore in the Prey video. I have no idea why now but I remember loads of people came up to me and asked where I got it because they wanted one.
They did a Beatles Medley of songs on a gantry that ran out to the middle of the Arena and we were in line with the end of the gantry where they sung most of the songs. It was nice to be so close again and to share the experience with my friends.
I also went to Earls Court for a couple of shows but I forget now which tour it was, I went twice in a week, once with friends and once with my sister and mum.
After the Nobody Else album came out the band had a falling out, Robbie left and all of a sudden you had to pick a side. If you were a Robbie fan you blamed Gary for everything. Things got very difficult as a fan because teenage girls can be vicious and single-minded in their pursuits. Very few people ever experience the deep, blinded love for something that a teenage girl does, it consumes you and you become protective of it. I don’t have the energy now to be that in love with anything than I was over the things I loved in my teens.
Personally I never took it that far. When Robbie left I was sad but I never blamed anyone. I continued to listen to the music as a 4 piece and listened to Robbie’s music too. I remember getting my Dad to buy me the American version of Nobody Else whilst out Christmas shopping because the songs were slightly different and I wanted both editions for my collection, even though at the time it was really expensive.
I went to Earls Court to try to see Take That going in for the Brit Awards that year. I met some fans outside who were hugely into the band and through them I found out about them staying at the Athenaeum Hotel in London. It was the school holidays so I arranged to meet the girls there.
We stood outside all day for the chance to see the band. We were just considering going home when Mark walked out the front door of the hotel and started signing autographs. I laughed because he asked us why we weren’t at school which I always thought was sweet.
Faced with the chance of getting an autograph I fell apart and only managed to get a couple of photos, I couldn’t actually speak to him I was so nervous. When he got in the car and drove off I was shaking with nerves and crying which is a really strange reaction at meeting someone, I blame teenage hormones! I still have those photo’s and my train ticket from that day.
I remember exactly where I was on the 13 February 1996 when Take That announced their split. I was sitting on my own on the floor of the school corridor outside the science lab listening to the radio on my walkman. The press conference started and I heard Gary say ‘as of today, Take That is no more’.
I didn’t know how to react, something that had become such a huge part of my life wasn’t going to be there anymore. At the same time I felt like a weight had been lifted. I was sad but I didn’t cry, I knew that we would see them all again and it wasn’t the end. Going into the next lesson there were hysterical girls everywhere convinced it was the end of the world.
Me and the girls I met decided we had to go to the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party that year as it would be the last performance of Take That in the country, their last ever performance I seem to remember was on a barge in Amsterdam. We decided to go to the Docklands Arena the night before the tickets went on sale and camp out to make sure we got a ticket.
I was told to say there would be security guards there if my parents asked to get them to agree I was only 15/16 at the time. I was actually relieved when I got there and there was security guards, especially when the pubs closed and we had drunk guys chatting us up.
I remember about 3 o’clock in the morning someone appeared with a football and we had a game until it got kicked onto the Docklands Light Railway track above, oops.
The next morning the tickets went on sale, we got them and walked to the station before even daring to look where we would be sitting. Front row! We were all so excited we started screaming.
I got the train home and rang to be picked up the other end. I was so tired by the time my Dad got to the station I was sitting on the floor wrapped in the quilt my Mum packed me off with leaning against the post box asleep. He was really annoyed as he said he looked like he was ‘picking up a tramp’. Ahh the things you get up to when you’re young.
On the day of the concert we weren’t sure how much we would see of Take That as Smash Hits used all the stage. You had one act one side, the next would be in the middle, then the next on the other side. So we were pleased when they set a piano up in front of us. Take That’s last ever UK performance and they ended up being right in front of us. It was the perfect ending to a crush that had taken me through my teens.
I have no recollection of the problems that Gary went through after launching his solo career and him being dropped from his record label. The programme with James Corden reminded me of it but I didn’t even recall the songs they played. In a way I’m glad I don’t remember the flops and only recall the good stuff, Gary deserves to be remembered well.
When they announced the comeback tour there was no question in our house of whether we were going. Me, my Mum and Sister were in complete agreement we were ready to party. I felt like a 14 year old again, dizzy with excitement waiting for Take That to come out on stage. I saw the gantry in the heavens and remembered the Beatles medley which I was sure they were going to do again.
For one night I got to be a teenager again and enjoy the music that meant so much to me in my formative years.
When they did the stadium tour I was adamant I was going. Robbie was coming back and it was not to be missed. The journey I thought ended when I was 16 still rumbles on. I hope in the future there will be more great music and more concerts to remind us of how good things once were.
I don’t listen to many of the newer Take That songs Patience, Greatest Day, Up All Night and Rule the World which I absolutely love are my favourites. Proving that Gary still knows how to write great music that lasts a lifetime.
So thanks Gary, Mark, Robbie, Howard and Jason for being there when I needed something to believe in. For giving me some great experiences and life long memories and thanks for giving me some great music to listen to.
I understand the lyrics now rather than signing along with the words and that makes me love the songs even more.
I hope if we ever meet I’ll be able to hold it together and not become a crying mess, but if not I’ll be in the stands singing and dancing along and pretending I’m 14 again.