Dec 3, 2008

Entertainment - Take That album party rocks paris

Rebecca Thomas
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Take That launched their new album The Circus in spectacular style with a lavish themed party in a hip Paris nightclub.

In the depths of the swanky VIP Room, international media gathered with lucky competition-winning fans to witness a show fully in keeping with the album's title.

Stilt-walkers, trapeze artists, jugglers and aerial acrobats were laid on to delight the audience ahead of the main event, a six-song set of new and less new material by the foursome.

The Circus, the group's second comeback album, looks set to top its best-selling predecessor Beautiful World, with an estimated 50,000 copies sold purely on pre-order ahead of the 1 December release.

On top of that, Greatest Day - the first single from the new album - went straight in at number one this past weekend.

'Still nervous'

Yet despite Take That's seemingly untarnishable Midas touch, they clearly still feel the need to go hell for leather on promotion.

The party was just the culmination of day of media and fan courting that began at St Pancras station on Monday morning and continued on the Eurostar to Paris.

And though mobbed by screaming fans at the Gare du Nord - reminiscent of their 90s heyday - the group maintain an endearing unwillingness to take their success for granted.

"We're still nervous about everything we do and still feel the need to give everything we've got," said Mark Owen ahead of the Paris gig.

Owen also explained why the group went with The Circus as the title of their new work, even though Britney Spears was to release an album of the same name - and on the same day.

"We wanted to make something that was big and extravagant which would relay to the live shows quite easily.

"And we've always said that it's like a circus coming to town when we tour. Last time we had 36 trucks.

"There are many ways of looking at it but for me it's more about entertainment than celebrity, to cheer people up."

Toffee apples

And cheer up the crowd at the VIP Room they certainly did.

Yes, the boys were fashionably late on stage but there was candy floss, popcorn and toffee apples in free supply plus the Moulin Rougesque performers.

This rather bizarrely included a woman clad in a giant wedding dress raised some 20ft from the stage and singing an opera version of Could It Be Magic.

Just when the audience seemed to be getting tetchy, Take That made their entrance onto the tiny stage, all slickly clad in black and Owen sporting the trilby that now seems never to leave his head.

"Are you ready for the greatest day right here and now?" boomed the master of ceremonies. Of course, they were.

Cameras and mobiles aloft (check out You Tube today), the crowd let out their pent-up excitement in a deafening united scream as the guys launched into Greatest Day.

Whipped up into a frenzy, the crowd sang at such a level the stars on stage could barely be heard.

New direction

But with the last chorus fading, Owen stepped forward to announce the first of what turned out to be three songs fronted by him on the night.

"It's the first time we've been in Paris in 12 years and it's an absolute pleasure to be here. And this next song is for all you guys," he said as he dived into the Ivor Novello-winning Shine from Beautiful World (and the Morrisons ads!).

Owen has always been the most exuberant of the foursome and tonight he seemed to be truly revelling in his lead status in front of an adoring crowd.

But if Owen gains a more prominent place on the new album, then so do Jason Orange and Howard Donald. Both get to sing leads, Orange on one track and Donald on two.

And overall The Circus marks a new direction for Take That, for whom Barlow has traditionally been the driving force in the song-writing and vocals.

This time the process was a fully collaborative effort, and one the group took a lot of time over compared with the relatively fast turn around of Beautiful World.

Orange, for whom celebrity still does not appear to sit comfortably on his shoulders, almost cowers on stage next to his more vivacious group mates.


So when he stepped out of the shadows the reception was rapturous.

"Thank you so much for coming," he said. "This is a big, big day. It's been long and arduous [writing the album] but we're proud of it. It's very special.

"It's amazing you all know the words when it's only out today. And those of you who don't know them, why not? Go out and buy it."

The other songs of the night were the sweeping We Can Rule The World and emotional Patience, throughout which the guys' camaraderie and united status as a group were obviously still very much intact.

As the final song ended, confetti rained down upon the delighted fans, all of whom seemed to have had a ball.

"It was brilliant," said Emma Lonsdale from Gainsborough. "I've been so excited for days but this was definitely worth all the waiting. I am so happy."

No comments: