Review: Gary Barlow, SSE Hydro

Jill Castle's verdict: four stars

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  • Pictures: Mark Mainz
    Pictures: Mark Mainz

He may be embarking on a solo tour but as Gary Barlow prepares to take to the Hydro stage it's clear that he's here to give fans what they want instead of what's expected.

As a video of him discussing his original disastrous attempt as a solo artist and the resurrection of Take That begins it's apparent that tonight is about putting demons to rest and celebrating his return as a guiding light in pop.

After opening with the title track from his new record, Since I Saw You Last, the former X Factor judge's solo material takes a backseat to make way for grown-up versions of Take That's greatest hits.

Rousing renditions of Greatest Day, Shine, performed as a duet with Eliza Doolittle, and a swing version of Could it be Magic really get the crowd going, while an uptempo cover of Robbie Williams' hit Candy, co-written by Barlow, shows the feud with his former bandmate is well and truly over.

There's even a cheeky nod to past critics who mocked his dancing abilities as he attempts to perform the routine for Take That's first hit Pray.

There are quieter moments where Barlow really gets the chance to show off his vocal and piano skills.

A stripped down version of Back for Good proves to be a particular highlight, demonstrating why it's one of their most enduring tracks, while a rendition of A Million Love Songs sung to a fan plucked from the audience is another favourite with the crowd.

It may seem strange to focus so heavily on Take That tracks during a solo show but let's not forget that most of these songs were written by Barlow and they show exactly why he is thought of as one of the best pop songwriters of his generation.

They may occasionally lack a certain something without his Take That bandmates but they are an integral part of the story that he is trying to tell with this tour.

However, it's not just the classics that the fans are interested in. Solo songs Requiem, Lie to Me, Shame and Face to Face, performed with Elton John on video screen, prove to be just as popular, while Relight my Fire, Rule the World and Never Forget end the night on a definite high.

It may have been an unexpected solo set but Barlow definitely knows how to put on a show and next time he promises he'll bring the rest of his band and not just their hits.

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