So here’s the thing, I love Take That. More than pretty much everything besides books. I first got into them in 2006 when I was on a forum for another fandom and a few people were talking about going to their tour. They were going three times, I wondered and asked them why they would go three times. Oh I had no idea.
Fast forward eleven years, I’m still friends with these people, none of them see Take That anymore and I have seen them live 28 times. 30 including tv shows. I’ve met all of Take That, I even met one of them on a bench. And now I get asked the questions that I asked all those years ago. ‘Why do you go so often? Do you not get bored? Do you not have better things to do with your money?’ People are baffled by it.
Thing is people who aren’t in fandoms don’t understand them. They don’t get that it isn’t just a band. It’s the friends you’ve made, the memories you’ve had, the long hard slog of life that they’ve helped you through. I don’t know one singular person in any fandom who doesn’t have it to thank for at least one close friend in their life.
About 90% of my friends I know off the internet, or I’ve met them in a queue or at a barrier. I have the internet and fandom to thank for my whole life. I have Take That to thank for some of the best days of my existence.
I don’t spend my money on much. I live in London so rent is a lot and I need to eat obviously. But aside from that and books, there’s not a lot. I don’t smoke, I rarely drink, I don’t gamble, I don’t go clubbing. My friends are nerds, we spend our time in museums and bookshops and cafes, an occasional pub. My social life is relatively cheap. Except for the tours.
For those who don’t know anything about Take That shows, they don’t just stand there and sing. They put on a show, a full on lights and fire and water and throw the entire kitchen sink and three truck loads of ticker tape at it type show. They’ve had flying cars and inflatable elephants and a huge robot named Om.
Not every show is the same. The boys aren’t machines who can press rewind and repeat the night before. They make jokes and talk to us and have jokes with each other. The little in-jokes and tiny moments that build as the tour goes on is part of what makes it so special.
You go to one show and you feel dazed by the end of it. You forget half of it. You feel lit up inside, as if by magic. Their shows are magic. They’re happiness. They’re standing at that barrier surrounded by your friends, with your favourite band right in front of you. Your band are singing, they keep grinning at each other and at you, and you sing those songs so loud and you dance and you jump and you have the best time. You watch the spectacle, you laugh and sing and scream and before you know it, it’s like you’ve clicked your fingers and the show is over. And you want to go again.
There is stuff you can hardly believe, aerialists and never ending bubbles, waterfalls and fire. But then there is the simplicity, the bits that mean the most to any fans, the band banter, the cheeky smiles and grins, 60,000 people all doing the Never Forget claps at the same time.
Take away the show, the entire event and you’d still have the most awe-inspiring bit, the bit which everyone loves the most. They don’t need spectacle, Take That, it’s not about that, it’s about the basic, pure, raw feeling. That bit which sings in your heart more than anything else. That makes you ache for more, that makes you love it so much.
So people made think we’re crazy for sitting in queues for hours on end, for going over and over again, for spending so much money and time on them and their tours. But once you’re on that barrier, none of it matters. Everything else fades away, during those two hours, you’re transported to another world, and you don’t want to be anywhere else.Why would you only go once? Why experience joy like that just one time when you could do it over and over again? Why wouldn’t I spend my money on the thing I love doing most? Take That can take all my money and time, I give it to them gladly and I know I’m not the only one. And knowing you’re not the only one may be the best bit of it all.