Thursday 22 March 2018

It’s all a matter of give and Take That for army of yummy mummies

Yummy mummies, grinning grannies and bopping hyper-ventilating teens

Take That wowing the crowds at Croke Park
Take That wowing the crowds at Croke Park
Susan Sharkey from Dublin, Rachel Horsthuis and Orla Tynan, from the Isle of Man
Bride-to-be Mary McLoughlin, Buncrana, Donegal, with her hens in Dublin before the gig
Aileen and Michelle McCormack, Tallaght, Dublin

Edel O'Connell

LET'S call it an experiment. Take one venue, two nights, five handsome men and around 150,000 very excited women. Add plenty of cocktails.

The result? Controlled chaos.

There may have been a fair proportion of husbands and boyfriends in the 150,000 crowd, but their presence was overwhelmed by very excited women momentarily taking leave of their senses and threatening to spontaneously combust.

You would certainly fear for the lives of the five handsome men if they fell into this crowd.

Take That were in Croke Park over the weekend -- if you didn't know -- and trailing in their wake was an army of yummy mummies, grinning grannies and hyperventilating teens.

Men locked their doors and windows as trainloads of 30 and 40-somethings poured into the centre of Dublin, spilled out of restaurants and block-booked every hotel room in the city to catch a glimpse of their teenage heartthrobs.

Hen parties arrived by the busload yesterday bursting with outrageously dressed women sporting stensons, intense spray tans and sky scraping heels -- all waiting for the party to start.

Chatting to them it became patently clear there was only one member of the band they were there to see -- the prodigal son himself, Robbie Williams

"My father asked me this morning if I was going to the over-40s' concert," joked Anne O'Brien from Tallaght, sporting a massive pair of pink bunny ears.

"But I told him we were going to see our Robbie. We are all so excited we are wearing these bunny ears especially for him.


"This will be our first time ever seeing the band play and we can't wait," her friend Michelle McCormack chimed in, almost in unison.

Our experiment could also include an element of helping the recession momentarily disappear. Stretch limousines -- what else? -- were the mode of transport of choice last night with dolled-up fans doing their best to look like A-listers.

"We were always going to do it in style tonight, so we went for a limousine. This will be our sixth time seeing them play and we can't wait, it is going to be fantastic," said Wendy Stephenson from Ballybrack, Co Dublin.

Croke Park was transformed into a visual feast on a truly epic scale -- a jaw-dropping 60ft robot towered above the historic stadium, providing the perfect backdrop for what is being dubbed "the greatest show on earth".

The evening kicked off with a warm-up by the iconic Pet Shop Boys, whose scaled-down yet typically polished performance felt slightly incongruous set against the background of a performance by an ageing boyband -- or should that be manband?

When superstars Gary Barlow (40), Mark Owen (38), Jason Orange (40) and Howard Donald (42) burst on to the stage following an Apollo-style countdown they were greeted with a crowd noise like a thousand rockets being launched.

The suited and booted foursome opened with 'Rule the World', and last night you would be forgiven for thinking they did.

This was followed up with 'Hold Up', 'A Light', 'Patience', 'Shine' and 'Greatest Day', but despite the screams and squeals of delight it was obvious the crowd was waiting for its favourite member.

"We've got someone else joining us later," the band suddenly screamed and a huge roar went up.

Not even explosions of ticker tape, glowing stages, dancing trees, roller-skating bees, a towering wall of water or a bizarrely giant caterpillar could top the collective intake of breath when Robbie Williams -- 37 now -- finally appeared.

The ultimate showman belted out his hits 'Let Me Entertain You', 'Feel' and 'Come Undone' while being wheeled around the stage in a chariot pulled by dancers, effortlessly stealing the show.

Then came the moment when 80,000 broken hearts finally came back together -- the quintet stood shoulder to shoulder to perform their classic anthems -- 'Pray', 'Relight My Fire', and 'Back For Good'. But it was difficult to hear them over the screaming.

The previous night Howard Donald and Jason Orange arrived at Dublin's celebrity hangout Lillie's Bordello under garda escort in a fleet of chauffeur-driven cars.

They do like the dramatic entrance.

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