Take That set the Great Oak Stage stage alight at American Express presents BST Hyde Park tonight with a spectacular extravaganza of pop music, leading a fantastic supporting line-up including The Script, Sugababes and Will Young.
Band members Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald performed to a sold out 65,000-strong audience at Hyde Park, dishing out track after track from their 33-year career. Kicking off the set with a crowd favourite, The Flood, the trio played hit after hit with These Days, Could It Be Magic and Shine all featuring on the setlist.
“Good evening, Hyde Park!” Gary Barlow announced to the crowd. “If you know the words, sing along. If you know the dance moves, dance along.”
A few songs in and the band were joined on stage by Calum Scott for their most recent release, a remake of Greatest Day – followed by a piano-led rendition of Scott’s track, Dancing On My Own.
“This is our first proper show since 2019,” Mark Owen added. “Four years!”
Pop anthems, old and new, followed. Armed with just a piano and Musical Director, Mike Stevens, on the saxophone, the band played A Million Love Songs at the end of the walkway, before returning to the main stage for the likes of Pray – dance moves included – Back For Good and Said It All.
As darkness fell on Hyde Park, a cover of the Sigma joie de vivre, Cry, introduced the true power of the 40 dancers who joined the band on stage. Then, the 1993 classic, Relight My Fire, with ‘60s pop icon Lulu appearing right on cue for her iconic sing-your-heart-out appearance.
The night ended with Never Forget and Rule The World, with an array of fireworks as a backdrop. A truly magical performance.
Earlier in the evening The Script took the audience by storm, giving the music hungry crowd the opportunity to sing along to some of long-term favourites, including The Man Who Can’t Be Moved, Rain and Nothing.
It was the band’s first festival show since the sad passing of band member Mark Sheehan in April. In tribute to the Script co-founder and guitarist, frontman Danny O’Donohue expressed his sadness at Mark not being present to experience this memorable moment.
He said: “We want to take some time out right now to say thank you to the Script family who have been there for us for the past few months. For those of you who don’t know we lost our brother and our guitarist Mark Sheehan – we lost him a few months ago and it’s been some of the toughest months that we’ve had. I just want to take this time to say thank you to everybody for your messages, your support, your prayers. We wouldn’t be able to get through these few months if it wasn’t for you guys.”
They went on to dedicate the song If You Could See Me Now to Mark, in a very poignant moment.
Sugababes lit up the stage, pushing out 10 back-to-back tracks to warm up the crowd nicely. Starting with number one hit Freak Like Me, they pulled out song after song, each one a classic in its own right, such as Hole In The Head, Overload and, from the soundtrack of Love Actually, Too Lost In You. A highlight was a cover of Flowers (Sweet Female Attitude) and their comeback single, Flatline.
“Look at the weather! The sun’s come out. It’s an absolute joy to be here supporting Take That today,” Keisha announced.
“We all love Take That,” Mutya agreed.
The set concluded with the epic Push The Button and Without You Now.
Saturday’s show began on the Rainbow Stage presented by British Airways with Chloe Adams, a 25-year old songstress from the UK, who covered the Black Eyed Peas track Where Is The Love? She was followed by new pop sensation Here At Last, a five-piece boy band taking the TikTok world by storm with their new single Lovesick. Californian pop rock duo, Aly & AJ – a.k.a sisters Aly and AJ Michalka – expertly led the line-up.
Finally, it was wonderful Will Young who opened the Great Oak Stage. Making his entrance with Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel cover), Will continued with a selection of Joy, Light My Fire and Changes.
“Thank you for coming out everybody, we are going to play you as many songs as possible in the allotted time,” he declared, before wrapping his arms around the Great Oak. “I really want to hug that tree!”
A wonderfully pop-fuelled day of live music for the fourth day of American Express presents BST Hyde Park 2023.
Photo credit: Dave Hogan