Gary Barlow @ St John At Hackney 19th November 2012

Each year I attend The Little Noise Sessions. Ticket prices may be a bit costly but the money goes straight to Mencap. These series of gigs are curated by Jo Whiley and it hosts big artists playing in an intimate venue. This was the 2nd year of being at St John Of Hackney. In all honesty it is not my favourite venue (I preferred its predecessor the Union Chapel). Now why I say it is not my favourite venue is mainly down to the over ground train services getting home (trains to Highbury & Islington were every 30 minutes). When all the sessions were confirmed there were 3 that appealed to me and one of them being Gary Barlow. This was the one session I was uneasy about as I could tell it was going to be tough to get a ticket. In the end I was successful so a huge weight had been lifted (trying for tickets for any major artist is a rather stressful time). Once I had secured it thoughts then turned to when I was going to start queuing. Now I had never witnessed Gary before so I didn’t know what the fan base was like. All I had to go on was when I saw Take That on the Progress tour last year. The day before I had decided I wanted to be at the venue early in the morning. Just the thought of a massive queue is gut wrenching. I arrived at 9.30am to find there were already around 20 people outside (the first few had camped out 9pm the day before!!!!). Fast forward to 7pm and the doors opened 30 minutes later. I was surprised I didn’t die from the cold. Once inside the front row had filled up (there was the barrier right in front of the speakers but who want that). I then found the smallest girl who was on the barrier and stood behind her. This proved to be a wise choice because I had the perfect view from the 2nd row. After supports from Laura Mvula, Josephine and Nell Bryden it was then onto the main act.

Taking to the stage at 9.40 was Gary “The Captain” Barlow who delivered an epic set which pleased everyone. There was an introduction by Jo Whiley who mentioned she sent Barlow an email and he responded 30 seconds later saying he would do it. When the band then Gary came onto the stage the atmosphere was both deafening and electric. What opened up the night was Greatest Day. This song just makes you feel happy inside the tempo was both smooth and entrancing. Everyone sang along to this wonderful tune. This truly was the greatest night of our lives. “Oh my god, what a crowd. Thank you so much. What a place to play this is. On the balcony up there, on the side. Should of paid more for your tickets. Lovely to see everybody, a few familiar faces in the crowd. They said to me play half an hour, I’m not playing half an hour. I going to play longer than that. Let’s hit them with a bit of solo stuff” Barlow then said by his piano before launching into Open Road. This tune featured on the debut album of the same time way back in 1997. It was the 4th single and it is viewed as his last successful single (before Shame which he sang with Robbie Williams). I have never been a follower of Barlow’s solo material but I must admit this was one incredible song which had been superbly written. “Playing behind me I have an amazing band everybody. When artists play shows they always introduce the band at the end of the show. I think it’s weird. It’s like having a dinner party and introducing all the guests at the end” Gary said before introducing the band. There was then a saxophone player on the stage. “So listen, If you look to my left there’s an instrument that’s joined the stage. It can only mean one number this one. Yes it’s Careless Whisper everybody” Barlow then joked before A Million Love Songs. This was a beautiful piano ballad which sounded ever so soft and beautiful. Pray was next and this song was delivered to perfection along with the stunning dance moves. This song was a real crowd pleaser and everyone went crazy for the dance moves. “I reckon that’s the first time Little Noise has seen a dance routine. What do you reckon? Been watching X Factor anyone? What I’m serious. What are we going to do about Rylan? I might have to be honest on Saturday night and go Rylan, I thought that was absolute shite. Onto nicer things, now about I think in July or August I was driving my car. I always have a problem when I’m driving. I listen to the radio and a song came on, it’s happened to me many times before. A song came on, I had to pull the car over to listen to this track, Shazam it, download it and all the rest of it. I got it and it was this incredible song called Sirens” Gary then said before introducing Nell Bryden back to the stage for Like I’ve Never Loved You At All. This was a mellowing duet which I found to be rather soothing and it worked well with 2 people singing it.

“I’m left on me own with a piano again. I thought it would be nice tonight as we’re in such a beautiful venue. I don’t think I’ve ever played, well I have done once. I’ve played once in church before. I thought it would be nice, with the piano and yourselves out there, and do a few songs from the past and the present and this is a little medley. Not a mash up. I don’t do mash ups” Barlow then said before performing Medley consisting of both Take That and Gary tunes. These being I’d Wait For Life, The Circus, Love Ain’t Here Anymore, Lie To Me, Why Can’t I Wake Up With You, Forever Love. The way each song was infused to one another was completely flawless. What I especially liked was the fact I had never heard these songs performed live before (well on the Progress tour). Also the two Gary solo songs in this medley were audience pleasers. It was the last solo songs to feature throughout the set and with what had been showcased I am a fan of the solo stuff. “OK this is a song that brought us back after all those years” Gary then said to the audience before going straight into Patience. This was a slow paced song which was Take That’s comeback single which saw them as a reunited 4 piece. This was sung faultlessly and the audience sang along to parts of it. “We’re going back to 1995 now for this next one. Please join in” Barlow then said before the cheers when Back For Good started up. This was a formidable piano ballad which everyone sang along to. Back For Good was an arm swaying song and had beautiful lyrics. I really liked the middle 8 where the melody of the song changed. “What a brilliant crowd. This is my most recent record everybody” Gary then said to the audience before his own take on Candy. This being the song he wrote with Robbie Williams. Now I loved this song for starters it is infectious and secondly Barlow sang perfectly with his tambourine. Now I enjoy both versions of this song. Whereas Gary sings this perfectly, Robbie also delivers a startling performance. Once over there were plenty of cheers. “It’s come to the last song of the night. But if you cheer loud enough we’ve really rehearsed one more” Barlow said to plenty of jeers. No one wanted this magical night to end. Things ended with Shine a song that has Mark Owen on main vocals. Gary’s version sounded spectacular. This was very upbeat and everyone was singing along. Once over they left the stage only to return moments later to a rapturous applause. “Thank you all so much. I know the tickets are expensive but we know it’s going to a great cause. But thank you so much everybody for taking time out of your lives and come down here tonight. What an amazing audience you’ve been. Jo, any time, any time. If you can promise me a crowd like this any time I’ll do it. I’m going to sing a song now. I was lucky enough to perform this at the closing of the Olympics which was absolutely amazing” Barlow said before ending with Rule The World. This was an amazing tune to end on. It’s vocals were startling and everyone sang to the chorus.

SET LIST

Greatest Day
Open Road
A Million Love Songs
Pray
Like I’ve Never Loved You At All
Medley
Patience
Back For Good
Candy
Shine

ENCORE

Rule The World

OVERALL: This was a magical night and I was extremely pleased that I was one of the lucky ones to purchase a ticket to this incredible event. I may not relish early starts and queuing in the freezing cold but in the end it was well worth it.

Gary was simply stunning. I thoroughly enjoyed every single song which was performed especially the solo material.

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