There is something hugely touching about the news that Take That (Gary, Jason, Howard, Mark and Robbie) will finally be five again because they are getting back together. They are no longer a boy band. Grizzled hair with streaks of grey, and the lines etched on the faces of all of them, (except maybe Gary Barlow, who unbelievably looks almost the same) testify to the anguish and dark times they have all been through.
After the heady heights of superstardom and massive success, they fell into an abyss. The band was ripped apart. Mercurial Robbie walked out, in a storm of anger and bitter recriminations, furious he was allowed no creative input. He found huge success of his own, but peace eluded him. Demons plagued all of them. Drugs, drink, comfort eating to dull the pain. Women. Loneliness. Despair. Somehow they heaved themselves out of the morass.
When the band reformed without Robbie, it was like the other four had been reborn. On 9 May 2006, Take That came back to the recorded music scene after more than ten years, signing with Polydor Records in a deal reportedly worth 3 million pounds. The band’s comeback album, Beautiful World, entered the UK album chart at no. 1. It is currently the 35th best selling album in UK music history.
In the album Beautiful World, all four members of the band had the opportunity to sing lead vocals. Unlike the band’s earlier works, where the majority of their material was written by Gary Barlow who received a sole credit, all four band members are credited as co-writers, regardless of whether they contributed to the writing process or not. The comeback single, “Patience“, was released on 20 November 2006. On 26 November “Patience” hit number 1 in the UK in its second week of chart entry making it the group’s ninth No. 1 and stayed there for 4 weeks. They had all learnt from past mistakes and were deeply grateful to be given a second change.
Meanwhile, Robbie was watching from the sidelines and his hugely successful solo career had stalled. There was talk of his comeback several times, but it came to nothing. At first it was all too hard. Now it is actually happening, and all five will tour together in 2011.
When Howard, Jason, Mark and Gary Barlow got back together, the old hits sounded just as good, but everything they had all been through gave an added poignancy to the music. Once the news that Robbie was rejoining the group hit the media, it was mayhem. The website has crashed under the weight of demand for their first shows. This is a tale that speaks of tolerance and maturity and of letting go of the past. They have all been big enough to accept how much they need each other, as their fans choke back lumps in their throats. This is a tale of demons fought and conquered, of forgiveness and redemption, and of bright, confident morning once again.