Take That returns to S'pore after 20 years
Twenty years on, English boy band returns to Singapore next month
English boy band Take That's 25-year career has been a roller-coaster ride but they remain one of the biggest pop groups to date.
They survived a decade-long break-up in 1996 and the departure of original members Robbie Williams in 1995 and Jason Orange in 2014.
Remaining members Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen, who are in their 40s, continue to soldier on. The trio will headline the music line-up of the HSBC Women's Champions next month. Other performers include US EDM artist Jack Novak and local acts DJ Farz and DJ Li.A.
M caught up with father-of-three Barlow, who was speaking on behalf of Take That - two decades since Take That last performed in Singapore at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in 1995.
What is your fondest memory of Singapore?
I had just got together with my then-girlfriend, now wife Dawn. She flew to Singapore to be with me and we had the most romantic couple of days together.
We split from the band and had a great time wandering around the gorgeous city. My memories are extremely great because it was the start of what has been the most amazing relationship with my wife, so I really have to thank Singapore for that.
What experiences did you have when you were last here?
It has to be the Singapore Sling. Dawn couldn't finish the drink and I foolishly finished it for her. Of course, 20 minutes later, I was slumped in my chair having a four-hour nap.
As for the fans, I remember the concert as loud with a great audience, so I look forward to seeing the fans again.
You once mentioned in an interview that Take That would always be a quintet. Why so?
When we talk about the group, we talk about everybody who started the band.
We were a five-piece in the beginning and over the next 20 years, if we are around to see them, the numbers will continue to change.
People will join, leave and rejoin. That's the kind of excitement I feel because you never know who's leaving or coming back next and that makes it a brand new experience.
There are downsides. We miss Rob and Jay but on the bright side, you feel like you're in a new environment and that keeps things fresh.
How's your relationship with Williams and Orange?
We have a very good relationship with them because they are part of our brand and they obviously have an interest in it.
We always tell them what we're doing because we don't want any surprises for them. They both know the door is always open at any time for them to come back, join us and make great music again.
I spoke to Rob a week ago but I have not spoken to Jason since Christmas.
In general, all members keep up with each other's lives, so that's a great thing. I consider them among some of my closest friends.
For 25 years, (Take That has) been a part of all our lives and we feel very blessed to have been able to do it. Whether we like it or not, we're linked and I think it's a great thing.
There are talks of a Las Vegas residency for Take That. Is this true?
It is still premature and might not be happening until 2017. It's something we're incredibly proud to be asked to do and are very excited about.
We're talking a type of show in Vegas that we won't be doing anywhere else in the world and we'll be doing it for a few years, so we're really looking forward to that.
I think it's a step forward in the band's career by broadening our horizons and going to a new country. We will be doing a bespoke Vegas show and it will be very theatrical.
US boy bands New Kids On The Block and Backstreet Boys teamed up in 2011 for a concert tour together. Can we expect the same for Take That with, say, UK boy bands like Westlife or Boyzone?
I would say 'no' for the time being because our situation feels quite brand new and we're just about to embark on our 25th anniversary, so it will be just Take That for the next few years.
Who knows in the future? I think we are due for a collaboration but I just don't know who that will be with yet. Watch this space.
Have you caught up with those peers from the 90s?
I'm good friends with (Boyzone's) Ronan Keating, he came to one of Take That's shows last year.
Apart from that, I don't know a lot of people who were in boy bands. Maybe I should get out more and meet more boy band members. That sounds good.
WHAT: Take That at HSBC Women's Champions 2016
WHEN: March 5, 7.30pm
WHERE: Sentosa Golf Club, Driving Range
TICKETS: $348 (VIP), $208 (Super Fanzone) and $138 (Standard) from Sistic (www.sistic.com.sg or 6348-5555)