Take That, Wembley Stadium, London

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The Independent Culture

The knotty problem for bands playing a venue as huge as Wembley Stadium is how to make every single one of the 80,000 fans feel a little bit special. For most of the audience, their idols look no bigger than a grain of rice and if a band's not careful, everyone will leave wondering if it was worth the bother.

But Take That know just how lucky they are to fill a stadium. Their loyal fans have been around for two decades, through the wilderness years, and are now responsible for the band selling 600,000 tickets in less than four-and-a-half hours for this, their Circus Tour.

Amid an array of colourful and weird characters that Angela Carter would be proud of, the boys arrive on a central circular stage wearing black military style suits to perform "Greatest Day". From there they are transported to the front stage on top of a 30ft metal elephant, all the while singing the more melancholy number, "The Garden".

The boys then fulfil their rock star fantasies by playing alone on stage as a band, knocking out hits including "Up All Night" and "How Did It Come To This?" After Gary has performed four tracks alone on a grand piano as the sun sets over Wembley stadium, they all come back on in clown outfits to perform a number of the older songs, such as "Do What You Like" and "Take That and Party".

They're so likeable precisely because they aren't afraid to play the fool. They mess around doing silly clown dances during their quite frankly ridiculous, but nonetheless joyful earlier hits and at the end of "It Only Takes a Minute Girl" one by one they unicycle down the path back to the central stage. Howard and Jason whizz down like pros while Mark only stumbles at the end. Then Gary appears on a tricycle with stabilisers, smiling and waving. It's this kind of behaviour that really endears them to their fans.

After another quick costume change, the band arrive back on an inferno of a set for "Relight My Fire" before finishing with "Never Forget" and "Rule the World". The most poignant moment comes as Barlow introduces "Patience" as "the song that brought us back". Back from obscurity and into the spotlight. Truly, a night at the circus to remember.