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Review Gary Barlow: It could have been more magical as star performs at Thetford Forest

PUBLISHED: 10:49 09 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:11 09 June 2018

Gary Barlow at Thetford Forest Live. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

Gary Barlow at Thetford Forest Live. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

LEE BLANCHFLOWER

This is going to be controversial, and I apologise now but I have to say this. I was a little underwhelmed by Gary Barlow’s performance at Thetford Forest last night.

Gary Barlow at Thetford Forest Live. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERGary Barlow at Thetford Forest Live. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

I had high hopes for the concert; I have been a Gary-fanatic since my pre-teen days (before it was even fashionable to love the Take That front man), and for me the Forest Live dates are one the highlights of the summer.

It should have been the perfect recipe for success. But it was missing that secret ingredient.

A stronger warm-up act may have helped liven the atmosphere. Or maybe he was just missing the support of his band mates and the circus that comes with a standard Take That tour?

Either way there was an undulating atmosphere in the glade at High Lodge that only really took off properly during his closing songs.

Gary Barlow at Thetford Forest Live. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERGary Barlow at Thetford Forest Live. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

Barlow launched the night with his solo tracks Since I Saw You Last and Nothing Feels The Same, both great hits which got the mainly female audience up off their folding chairs and picnic rugs and onto their feet.

Next up was These Days, a hit that never fails to get the crowd singing along and it was looking like the night was going to be a success.

But then he launched into a Sinatra-style review of his career, amusing in parts as he mocked his lack of dance skills but a little flat after the upbeat start to the show.

Later in the evening he did some of the classic Take That hits including Sure and Everything Changes and tried to mix it up by giving them a jazz twist but again the audience were unsure how to react to this and it brought the atmosphere crashing back down again.

Gary Barlow at Thetford Forest Live. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERGary Barlow at Thetford Forest Live. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

Barlow is a highly talented musician and midway through he ushered his band off stage for a break and sat down at his beloved piano to sing one of my favourite Take That songs, Shine. It was magical hearing the clarity of his voice as he performed without the backdrop you get when he and the other Take That boys take on the nation’s vast concert venues. This was the Gary Barlow we had come to see.

Sadly, there were just not enough of these moments for me.

The Forest Live series runs until tomorrow night. The Script returned to the forest on Thursday night, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott are performing this evening and Kasabian round-up the weekend on Sunday.

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