There was only one place for Take That to go after The Circus, it almost seems written in their destiny that the group would become whole, it would heal itself, and Robbie Williams would be welcomed back. The story has been told that way because that is how it looked. Beautiful World may have been something of an unknown step but the fact that it was a massive success almost automatically routed Take That’s internal GPS through The Circus and all of the content on that album, back to Robbie. Speaking to James Corden in 2014, Gary Barlow said getting Robbie back involved was something the boys “always knew” would happen. While it was always something the band may have wanted to happen, and there are examples on both previous albums where the boys had worn their hearts on their immaculately well-dressed sleeves, knowing that it would happen is something very different.
The Circus may have been therapeutic on some levels but there was going to have to be serious work done, if the boys were going to make Progress.
Before Beautiful World was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye, they met up to see what would happen if the band got back together. The world certainly found out, If was not just possible, it was magical. In 2009, two months after the four boys had played and dazzled Wembley Stadium on the Circus tour, they met up in New York with Robbie Williams with much the same sense of wonder, and asked themselves the question once again; What would happen if?
In truth a large step forward had already been taken by the time everyone was in that room, because Gary and Robbie had their come to Jesus meeting, during the mixing of The Circus. In an interview given to Radio One and reported in The Daily Mail and The Telegraph (August 2010) they said the pair had a ‘big chat’ and importantly both said sorry to each other. Listening to each other give their own truths and hearing each other say sorry seemed nearly impossible when the five members sat and gave interviews to camera on ‘For The Record’ in 2006. Robbie said at that time that he would be fine in a room with everyone except Gary, doubting that he could find any closure there because Gary “couldn’t see how he was, what he did or how he acted”.
Writing in 2018, Gary said that Robbie’s contempt for him at that stage left him with a bad feeling and certainly a reunion had absolutely “no pulse”.
On November 24th 2008, a year after the UK release of Beautiful World, Take That released the single Greatest Day.
The twelve months preceding this single’s release had seen them ask questions of themselves and their support, questions that were answered emphatically by Beautiful World. Did Take That still have what it takes? Yes, indeed they did, and the proof was on that album. Was there still a space for Take That in the music world? Yes, indeed there was. Beautiful World was a big bold success and songs like Patience and Shine were the dot on the exclamation point.
Greatest Day is the type of single a band releases when they know they have an album coming to equal that quality. Greatest Day showed everyone that the quality was not about to dip, although by this point no-one seriously thought that it would.
Certain things go through your head when you hear that a band is going to reform. Can they still do it? Do they still have it? Does anyone still want it?
It is very important, crucial you may say.
When you hear that a band are going to reunite your mind may find itself relaxing in many varied presumptuous locations.
You may think you know what is going to happen. If said band are reforming on stage, you’ll probably write it off as a smash and grab affair; the band will stand up there, sing the hits maybe in a lower key, bang a few of the songs that weren’t quite as good in a medley in the middle.
This week right here in Manchester I had a return date with five boys from Boston. Longer ago than I care to remember I was in Manchester with thousands upon thousands of screaming girls; New Kids were my first crush band although I didn’t know that at the time. I remember being confused that others were confused; I couldn’t like New Kids? It was a girl thing was it? Well I got all merch’d up and believe me, they deserved every single one of my screams and every single one of my (Dad’s) pounds on souvenirs.
Out yesterday, The Art of Doing Nothing (Polydor), is Mark Owen’s fourth solo release and his first since 2005’s How The Mighty Fall and it deserves success. Mark is not looking to Robbie everyone’s socks off, he’s in a band more than capable of doing that – no, this new material find him seemingly at ease and going in new sound directions because it felt right to him. The lyrics go from personal to universal and its clear this is what he wants to say right now.