10 years ago I was seventeen and now I’m twenty-seven (for anyone atrocious at maths). 10 years ago I was in my last year of school studying for my final exams and now I work full time in retail.10 years ago I was living in a country I didn’t want to live in and now I live in a city I adore. 10 years ago, I was single, now I still am. 10 years ago I saw my favourite band live for the first time and now I’ve seen them live forty-seven times.
This a band called Take That. Surprise, I quite like them, ok I love them more than about a handful of people in my life. Take That, the Mancunian man band who’ve been around as long as I’ve been alive(I was born 4 days before they formed). The band who have given me friendships and memories and the best times of my life. The band who sometimes just give me an anchor on which to tether myself when times are low. This day ten years ago I was on my way to The 02 in London to see them live for the very first time. I thought I loved Take That back then. And I did, I loved them the way teenage girls love anything, ferociously and passionately, with my whole heart and soul. I loved them with delirium and screams and mania. The love teenage girls have could power the world with it’s energy.
I loved them back then but there’s a different love once you’ve seen them live. And a different love once you’ve met them. And a different love when seeing them all the time becomes your regular life. I love Take That, but in a different way now I loved them back then. I love them now with candour, dedication and uncomplicated adoration. I adore them, everybody knows I adore them but I wouldn’t be as frenzied about it now, I’d like to think.
I got into Take That back in 2006, I was 15, in school, hating it for the most part. I love learning but it took the internet and emigrating for me to find more than a handful of people I would consider friends.
Back when I was 17, I was hysterical. I got banned for watching them whilst eating cos I choked like twice when they were on the telly. My Ultimate Tour DVD was watched constantly, I listened to them all the time. I was young and stuck in a country where no one I knew cared about Take That.
My mum got us tickets to see them on the Beautiful World tour in London and Manchester(at the time I asked why would we go twice, oh past me you had no idea). I couldn’t believe I was going to be in the same room as them. As Take That! As dirty and witty Howard, as philosophical Jason, as the captain of the ship Gary. As foot stomping, hat wearing, Shine singing, the most adorable and my favourite member then and now Mark.
When I turned up to the arena and saw their picture outside I let out such a noise my mum said she didn’t think it was possible for humans to scream that loud. We were in the gods, Block 416, Row R but I barely cared. I’m not sure I would have managed front row off the bat to be quite honest. Every single one of my pictures from that night is blurry. Two weeks later in Manchester, I was excited that I could see their shoes clearly from my seat(block 214 in the MEN, going up in the world).
And then the next ten years happened, ten years that seventeen year old me could never imagine. Meeting Jason on a bench, meeting the rest of them at a signing. Thanking Mark for making my whole life better and him going ‘Oh bless you’. Meeting Gary three times and the reassurance of his bearhugs. Having Mark’s water bottle sitting on my bookshelf (he threw it to me at a show, I don’t just have it). Gary having read my blog and DMing me saying it was beautiful. Seeing them live in 9 different cities and 15 different venues. Countless front rows, barrier runs, the solo tours and the tv shows.
Watching Howard DJ and then running through Manchester trying to get to the Lowry before he did, going to a football match just to see Mark. Seeing them at Jonathan Ross and singing Happy Birthday to Gary, seeing them at the Royal Albert Hall, watching the recording of ‘An Evening with Take That’ and witnessing Mark ask an entire row of people what they liked on their chips.
Endless queues, standing in the cold, sitting in the cold, burning in the sun, drowning in the rain, freezing in the snow. Gripping onto barrier with your mates all around you, singing your heart out, and feeling happier than anywhere else. Ticker tape and clapping and dancing and laughing and smiling so much your face hurts. Because look, it’s them, they’re right in front of you, singing the songs that make your heart beat with reverence. And oh look, they’re interacting with you. And you’re weeping and grinning because this is your happy place and they’ve just made it even more joyous.
Within ten years we’ve had lasers and pole-dancing, elephants and aerialists, robots and puppets, flying cars and human carousels. Yet the best feeling is doing the Never Forget claps or hearing 80,000 people singing Rule the World. The boys love the spectacle, we love the spectacle but more than anything we love that deep down joy of feeling at home and being surrounded by love and awe.
10 years on, being front row is the norm, grabbing their hands is the norm. I still die if any of them sing at me or wave at me or interact with me in any way during a show. People say ‘they must know you’ and I know they have no idea, that people have met them countless times and they know them. But I like to think in amongst a crowd the boys would recognise me as a familiar face.
I’ve been called all sorts in the last ten years, crazy about summing it up. We all have but I don’t care, I know none of us do. Because those boys make us happy and surely being happy is the most important thing of all?
10 years on, I’ve moved country all alone, I’ve had three jobs and lived in seven different houses. My life has taken many a twist and turn but the boys have been my constant. Take That have saved my life in more ways than they’ll ever know.
Seventeen year old me would be ecstatic with my life now. Maybe not the single thing, but the whole living in London and seeing Take That all the time thing, yes. Ten years ago I was really just started on my Thatter journey and here I am ten years later, so grateful for it all and so looking forward to all the joy and fun and love and memories the future holds.