Earlier this year - or possibly last year; time flies by so quickly I completely lose track of days, weeks, years, so easily (someone told me it's just because I'm "getting old" .. hmmmm :) ) Anyway, whenever it was I got a message from a friend saying "I have a ticket for The Band and it's got your name on it". She's great like that. We tend to only hook up on nights out at gigs (Take That, Duran Duran - she forgot me for Adam Ant but I forgive her.. hahaha) and we always have a great time. Often there are 3/4 of us, all of whom have similar humour and like the same things (which is always a good start).
I'd heard about The Band, had even seen a couple of episodes on TV where they had a contest set up to try and find singers/actors, to play the parts. However, I assumed (wrongly) that it was going to be the 5 boys who'd been picked, singing Take That songs, so it wasn't something I really fancied spending time watching (I love the real thing - Take That - much more than anyone pretending to be them). I almost said "ta for the offer; not my thing, have a great night". Then I thought about it. It's a night out, with great people, and at the time I didn't have massive vet bills to pay, so I said "Fabulous; thank you" promptly transferring the money from my account to hers to cover the cost of my ticket.
Now, the friend and I come from different cities - competing cities - cities with a history of not getting on. We support out local football teams, so there is rivallry; the show being in her city wasn't lost on me :) It's somewhere I try to avoid visiting, but that's not an easy thing to do when so many of the things I want to see are on in their theatre and my very own Ugly Kid Joe, always play a gig in their city, so I've found myself there way too many times in the past 5 years :)
As it transpired, my idea of what the show is about, was totally, utterly and completely wrong - I know, me get something wrong! Who'd have thought it? :)
I don't want to give away the story, for any of you who may be going, but it's not just 5 lads singing Take That songs. In fact, it's along the same lines of Mamma Mia in that the songs/music make up the backdrop to a story - a really good story. A story about a group of friends who bond over their love of a boy band back when they are teenagers. Part of the story is their younger years; the rest when The Band reform years later. They're older, their lives have changed, their love for The Band hasn't.
One thing I'd definitely not expected was to find it so emotional. Within the first scenes I found myself crying. Now, in my defence, it wasn't the story which made me cry; it was the situation. You see, my best friend and I bonded one drunken, pot smoking (yes, back in the day I smoked weed now-and-again; a really long way back-in-the-day I'd like to add) evening. Take That and Party had just been released, alongside a video of the songs and interviews with them. Someone had loaned her the video, so for something to do, we put it on. We never uttered a word to each other the whole time we watched it. That night our 5 year on-off friendship moved to a whole new level. We became inseparable; we knew the only thing which would break our bond would be the death of one of us - I wish her's hadn't come about as soon as it did. We were going to race each other along the seafront as 90 year old's - of course, we'd have rigged each other's zimmer frames to give ourselves an advantage. Many men came and went during our friendship (her having more than I :) ) Each of them tried their best to break up our friendship (along with many other people). Those people failed. Our friendship was based on respect, trust and an awful lot of piss-taking of each other. That's where the part in the show got my tears flowing.
She was a Gary Barlow fan; I loved Mark Owen. When the video for Pray came out, there is this one section where Mark drops to the sand, shirt open, his little white (boy child really) chest exposed, he writhes and holds up a mirror. Donna (my best friend for those of you don't know me) ripped it out of me over that one move right up until the time she died. However, in the very same video there is a section where they are all dancing, except for Gary, who holds his arms out and basically looks just like a scarecrow; I ripped it out of her for that section. Would you believe The Band show, starts with both of these moments. Of ALL the videos' they've made. Of all the things they've done in their 25 year career, of all the bits they could have chosen, they chose those 2, right at the very start. It was at that moment it struck me that she should have been sitting there next to me watching it. She would have loved it. Rather than me crying at that point, me and her would have laughed - a lot. A friendship like ours comes around only once in a lifetime; I miss her so much every day. I am so grateful she left behind her amazing younglings. They are growing into fabulous human beings. I'm gutted she never got to meet her granddaughter (who has a sense of humour just like her). IF you have a friendship like the one we had, treasure it, enjoy it and make the most of every second of it. You never know when it may be over.
That's what this show is about. Friendship - a friendship like ours. The actresses/actors (it is a female dominated cast) are not polished, they're not groomed to within an inch of their lives. What they are is natural, real, people you can relate to. People you automatically feel a kinship too. There are points during it where you will laugh out loud, there are also points when it will be hard to hold back the tears (even a couple of hardened types guys sitting in front of us wiped away a tear or 2 at times).
The Band themselves? They take a very background role. They appear in pretty much every scene, yet they are never at the forefront of any of the action. They are there, purely to create the atmosphere, to explain the story, to give a visual representation of what the girls are experiencing.
Most of the shows left you could book for are "oop north" - to be expected I guess - but if you can get yourself along to one of the venues, and can afford the tickets, I think you will find you have a great night out and enjoy it more than you might think you will :)
Tickets can be found by Clicking Here.