First things first. Confession time.
At 22 years old, I missed the true Take That hysteria experienced by the masses during their early days. Don’t get me wrong, I know (most) of the words to the classics and challenge me to a karaoke sing-off of ‘Patience’ and I’ll give it everything I’ve got (please note, this is not an invitation to do so). As for their earlier songs, my singing skills verge on the dodgier side. Although after seeing The Band musical, written by Tim Firth with the music of Take That, apparently I’m now a Take That superfan.
Here’s the thing though – while the music obviously makes for feel good, lively atmosphere that brings The Band to life in a way that couldn’t be done otherwise, it’s so much more than a Take That tribute show. The storyline follows that of five best friends who, at 16, all have an intense love for ‘The Band’. It’s 1993. Top of the Pops is at its prime, as is the boy band era and anyone who has ever lost their teenage mind over a boy band will be able to heavily relate. Bickering with friends over who would marry which member, existing in an easier world where everything revolved around your love for the band, each song narrating a significant moment in your life – your first kiss, your first love, that frustrating teenage angst that no-one seems to understand.
It’s funny how when watching a show like The Band, you get caught up in the romance of it all. Not in an intimate way but more in terms of the nostalgia it creates, the reflection if evokes and the buzz it leaves you with post-show. The comparisons you make to your own life, seeing the story through the characters’ eyes, where songs narrate your feelings and life feels just like a music video – not far off that dramatic inner dialogue you create for yourself when riding in the back seat during a long car journey, earphones in and rain trickling down the windows, staring into space as your siblings squabble to your left. With The Band, we get to live out that daydream, through the eyes of main character, Rachel. We relive that feeling of pure devotion to your favourite band, the kind of hysteria only a boy band can bring out in both teenage and adult women (and men) alike.
As The Band so carefully demonstrates, the love of this particular band is about so much more than their music. It’s about the strength and complicated nature of true friendship. Those that stay with you throughout life, regardless of distance or time passed since your last conversation, the good, the bad, the ugly, the surprises life throws at you, forever connected by music. Music is more than just entertainment. It creates inexplicable bonds between people, the kind that upon hearing it brings you together, connecting you to one another no matter where you are in the world. As Tim Firth explains, music makes time travellers of us all.
As I sat watching The Band, soaking up the storyline (and the eye candy), I kept thinking about my group of friends from university, the songs that narrated our friendships with one another and key moments in our lives. Like the five best friends in The Band, music plays a big role in our friendship with one song in particular, that when we hear it, we’re instantly brought back together again. These days the connection comes through snapchat, a voice note or drunkenly tagging each other in InstaStories. For these women it’s a trip of lifetime, a competition entered on a whim and a shared love of a boy band from their youth that brings them back together again.
In the words of all of the best promotional brochures, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll never want it to end, except when it comes to The Band it’s more than just marketing buzzwords, it’s the truth.
Impossible to leave the show in a bad mood, you won’t be able to resist singing and dancing along to every song.
The Band continues at the Grand Opera House until 24th November. For more information and to book tickets visit www.goh.co.uk