8 reasons why you win if you're seeing Take That at the 3Arena tonight
A slimmed-down Take That arrive in Dublin today for a brace of shows at 3Arena. And no, that isn't a joke about Gary Barlow's historically fluctuating waist-line.
Rather, we refer to the fact that the evergreen pop franchise is now a trio, with Robbie Williams opting out of another reunion and Jason Orange deciding he'd rather not see out his middle years waggling his torso in the direction of hysterical members of the public.
Two men down from their last tour, it was predicted that Take That would be a much diminished force – too much Barlow sentimentally, not enough Robbie/Jason irascibility.
However, the band have blindsided detractors, latest album III proving surprisingly smart and catchy and the follow- up tour delivering impressive quantities of eye-popping spectacle.
To whet the appetite of fans going to 3Arena tonight here, then, are eight reasons Take That remain one of the most potent brands in pop.
1: Their best songs are still fantastic
Twenty years on, it's clear that Pray, Back For Good and their version of Relight My Fire are peerless pop gems. Who nowadays can bear to listen to a 'classic' Westlife or Spice Girls track?
Exactly - nobody. Take That's finest moments, in contrast, have weathered the decades unscathed.
2: The new stuff isn't bad either
Rock reunions are usually horrendously cynical. But when Take That returned in 2005, they were determined not to go through the motions and duly gifted fans with some of their most accomplished material yet, including Greatest Day and Shine.
3: They Can Laugh at Themselves
Few things are sadder than a pop group unable to acknowledge the onward march of time. Take That are fully aware they are no longer the golden-haired pretty boys of their youth.
Summoning a very agreeable wryness, Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald go about the business of being pop stars with charming detachment.
They understand how ridiculous they must seem on stage – how can you laugh at men already more than capable of chuckling at themselves?
4: They're Up Close And Personal
It's 10 years since Take That played a venue as 'intimate' as the 3rena in Ireland. Their previous shows were at Croke Park and while these were spectacular, with their animatronic elephants and Robbie Williams flying about on a high-wire, witnessing the ensemble at relatively close quarters promises to be an enormous novelty.
5: But the New Show Is Still Spectacular
The musical equivalent of kids unleashed in a candy emporium, Take That have always embraced the silly side of stadium pop. The new production features Barlow, Owen and Donald whizzing around on a 'flying' bike, plus 18 dancers and a seven- piece band. That's a lot of oomph for your dollar.
6: Gary Barlow is a Disarming Frontman
Anyone who witnessed Barlow's concert at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin several years ago will know that the singer does an irresistible line in patter.
Expect lots of zingers tonight – including 'he got there first' quips about 'what's left of Take That'.
7: The Other Guys Aren't Bad Either
Usually a boy band will consist of one vaguely talented front person, plus an assortment of market tested hunks/ pretty boys.
Take That, however, have always been a charmingly polyglot bunch. Robbie Williams is a pop star who seemed to think he was born to be in Oasis; Mark Owen is custodian of a sweet voice and winningly vulnerable stage presence.
Robbie's gone but Owen is still there, the perfect foil to Barlow's more hammy persona.
8: They Are Masters at the Art of the Setlist
At 3Arena Take That will lead fans on a breathless overview of their career, early smashes Relight My Fire and Could It Be Magic juxtaposed with the more recent Shine and Rule The World.
And, if you're lukewarm on the latest record don't fret - just a handful of new tunes make the cut.