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”.
This concert, on 14th December 1986, before eleven thousand people in the Sydney Entertainment Centre, was the last in a series of twenty seven performances covering all of Australia… You are joining the concert after the interval, just as the eighty eight-piece Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is heard and seen for the first time on this, the last night of the tour…
There are absolutely no overdubs on this album.
Taken from the liner notes of the album, released in 1987.
Those words give this performance quite a build-up, don’t they? Twenty seven performances covering all of Australia, an eight eight-piece orchestra behind him, the last night of the tour. It was reportedly the first time anything like this had been attempted by a pop or rock artist and it took months and months of rehearsal, Elton himself paid a heavy price for this performance. During the tour, which began in in Brisbane on November 5th, specialists discovered nodules on his vocal cords, and he would go for surgery on them within a month of leaving this stage. Elton has since said that there was a very real fear that the last song he sang that night in December ’86, would be his last ever; Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me was then, a rather fitting choice.
Maybe it’s just me but it seems in fashion right now to completely record an album, hate it, bin it and start again. The Scissor Sisters’ ‘Night Work’ owes much to the fact that Jake did one to Berlin when the original recording sessions didn’t provide the sounds that the band wanted.
Coming, as this album does, after a three year break during which Bruce had been written off as ‘yesterday’s man’, you would expect some difference between Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge of Town but the differences are major and they served as a sharp signal of where future Springsteen material would go. Gone are the romantic ideas of “getting to that place where we wanna go” and walking in the sun. In there place a harsher, more realistic tone. We are left in no doubt that running away is not the answer. The characters on Darkness are staying in town and working through their own personal darkness.Continue reading