There could be a lot worse places to be on a rainy and soggy Sunday afternoon in mid February than in the company of one of the UK’s most successful songwriters and performers – Gary Barlow.

His one man show has been running over six nights at the 420 seated Brindley Theatre in Runcorn – just down the road from his home town of Frodsham.

Naturally the tickets for the shows sold out in minutes – it is a shame though that the majority of the Take That fans will not get to see this gripping, entertaining and emotional life story of their hero.

As he arrived on stage with coffee mug in hand it felt as if you had arrived in his own living room.

After all the elaborate stage sets of the recent Take That tours the stark stage setting of stacks of tour stage cases might have come to a shock to many but this was a show that was not just about his professional career but his life off stage too.

Barlow came across as a witty and entertaining raconteur able to hold his audiences attention as we learn that his first love was music – and pick n’ mix from the sweet counter.

He spoke fondly of his parents and re told how his dad, Colin worked two jobs so he was able to pay for Barlow’s first professional keyboard. One piece of advice his dad gave him – “Never go on stage unrehearsed” has stuck throughout his career – especially when Barlow went on stage at a prestigious American award ceremony to launch his solo career in front of some of the most powerful American record executives and producers on a re-mixed track that he had only heard hours before the performance was due to begin.

Fame and success it seems is not all that it is wrapped up to be as Barlow shared his struggle and secret of being Bulimic and how his love of Chinese buffets and tins of Quality Street saw his weight balloon to 17 ½ stone, not to mention the 40-60 cigarettes along with his tipples of a cola and Jack Daniels he consumed every day.

Naturally there were snippets of the Take That songs performed by Barlow played at the piano though the real surprise came at the end as he wore one of the original Take That outfits from the band’s early days to perform a medley of the bands hits. – much to delight of the Take That army of fans present.

The rivalry between himself and Robbie Williams was detailed though he made light of it, it was when he opened up the darker side of his life such as the death of his father and the tragedy of his stillborn daughter Poppy that it felt the show had become even more personal and moving. The two ladies behind me were in tears when he emotionally talked about the loss of Poppy.

The show appeared to run smoothly, taking stock of his dad’s advice the show was not under rehearsed, instead the two hour show appeared to fly by in minutes with the local lad who made it good. Could the show be tragic? Never, as Barlow single handily re-lit the fire on an emotionally, revealing and entertaining account of his life so far.