GARY BARLOW has revealed Take That will return in 2023 – and hit the road for a series of live dates.
The currently solo singer says: “I am desperate to get back into the band.
“By the time Christmas comes, it will be the end of a big chapter for me. I’ll have toured two albums and it’ll be the end of this solo chapter for me and I’ll be getting ready for the next wave of Take That.”
Take That last performed, to sell-out crowds, two years ago as part of their Odyssey: Greatest Hits Live tour.
Gary, who turned 50 in January, adds: “It’s been a while since 2019. I’m ready to get back to my day job now. That’s my thing, being in the group.
“We’ll have a nice planning year in 2022. I don’t think we’ll release anything or tour but the following year, 2023, will be a big year for Take That.”
Despite his excitement, Gary concedes with some sadness he has been unable to persuade bandmate Jason Orange to return.
Jason, 51, went off radar in 2014 when he stepped back from the band for good, along with Robbie Williams.
While Robbie has returned at points, joining the band on stage on The X Factor when he was a judge in 2018 and performing alongside them during a virtual gig in May last year, Jason has cut ties with the group.
At the time Jason said he was quitting because he felt his time in the group had come to an end, and he stepped out of the spotlight completely.
Gary said this year he believed Take That could return as a five-piece. But Jason now lives a quiet life in the Cotswolds and Gary admits all efforts to get him back on board have failed.
So the comeback will feature just Gary, Mark Owen, 49, and Howard Donald, 53. Gary says: “Jason isn’t coming back. Take That is Mark, Howard and me for the next few years.
"When we’re out there, it feels right. Our audience supports us and we always feel strong.” Take That have sold 45million albums worldwide, eight of which have gone to No1 here. They have also had 12 No1 singles and won eight Brit Awards.
Away from the band, Gary has also carved out a hugely successful solo career. He has three No1 albums to his name and could be looking at a fourth with The Dream Of Christmas, which he releases on Friday.
‘IT’S MARK, HOWARD AND ME FOR NOW’
The record features brand new, original songs as well as Christmas classics — and includes a collab with Bafta-winning actress Sheridan Smith, called How Christmas Is Supposed To Be. The pair met by chance backstage at the Royal Variety Performance last year.
Ten months later, in October this year, Gary asked Sheridan to sing with him as part of his hugely popular Crooner Sessions which saw him live-stream duets with the likes of Sir Elton John, Queen’s Brian May and even Robbie.
Cheshire-born Gary is thrilled to be teaming up with TV sitcoms favourite Sheridan, 40, star of The Royle Family, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Gavin & Stacey, and Benidorm.
He says: “Everyone loves Sheridan, don’t they? She’s a great ball of energy and a great laugh. She’s just wonderful — and is a great actress and singer.
“We met in the wings of the Blackpool Opera House last year, while waiting to go on for the Royal Variety Performance. She just said: ‘I’m a big fan, will you take my number and keep in touch?’
“So we swapped numbers and then when I wrote How Christmas Is Supposed To Be last year, I just thought of her immediately.
I think everyone loves Sheridan, don’t they? She’s a ball of energy and a great laugh
“The song is about a couple who have a falling-out, they can’t do things right, it looks like they might split up.
“The video needed a bit of acting so I thought Sheridan would be great. She had a listen to it then she was on the phone saying, ‘Yes, let’s do it’.”
The song is out today, along with the video which shows Gary and Sheridan dancing together and having fun.
While their schedules have made it difficult to get together since recording this, Gary also reveals Sheridan will be joining him on his All The Hits tour which begins on Saturday in Belfast.
He will play 16 dates across the UK, taking in 14 cities including London, Newcastle, Aberdeen and Cardiff. He will be joined by The X Factor 2006 winner Leona Lewis, 36, on the tour but reveals Sheridan will also be making a one-off appearance.
He says: “Sheridan will be joining us on tour but only for one night. You’ll have to wait and see which one.
“’I’d love to have her with us for the whole tour but that’s just not possible at the moment. She’s just so busy filming, so I’ll be grabbing her for a night when I can. It’ll be a lot of fun.”
After spending much of the past 20 months at home, Gary is ready and raring to get back on the road.
He last toured in 2019, with Take That to celebrate their 30th anniversary. The band played 53 shows across the UK to thousands of screaming fans.
But leaving behind wife Dawn Andrews and their children Daniel, 21, Emily 19, and Daisy, 12, will not be easy for Gary.
He says: “At the moment it feels weird even going away for a night. I went to California for a couple of weeks in October and that felt so strange.
Jason isn’t coming back. Take That is Mark, Howard and me for the next few years. When we’re out there, it feels right.
Jason isn’t coming back. Take That is Mark, Howard and me for the next few years. When we’re out there, it feels right. We feel strong
“It’s something I wouldn’t have thought twice about in the past but it feels very odd now. It’s a mixture of wanting to be at home and generally wanting to do better for the world around us (by flying less).
“But we’re not on tour for long and then we’ll all be together again for the full swing of Christmas.” After festivities were cancelled for so many families last year because of the pandemic, Gary says he will be going all out on stage this party season.
He says with a laugh: “We’ve gone really big. There’ll be a sleigh, a big tree, presents — the stage will be filled with the spirit of Christmas. It’s a big part of the show and I’m really excited to do something so festive.
“I hope it will make everyone feel festive all the way through December. We really deserve it this year. I never tour at Christmas, I always tour in spring — so this time we are ticking the Christmas box.”
But while he will be going to excess with his Christmas spirit on the tour, Gary will not be mirror-ing that in his lifestyle.
The singer previously piled on weight and ballooned to 18st after eating junk food and crisps — something he says is now firmly in the past.
'DESERVE THIS YEAR'
And although life on the road can make it difficult to always be healthy, Gary says he’s determined to stay on track. Aside from maybe a glass of two of his own plonk from his new range of wines.
He says: “My rider is actually quite balanced. I’m someone who really looks after themselves for 80 per cent of the week.
“I do all the right things, I’m mindful around food. But if I’ve had a long day, I get in and would like to have a glass of wine.
“For me, it’s about treading the balance. So my rider has every-thing from almond butter, buck-wheat crackers and sparkling water to red wine.
“Will it have Gary Barlow’s Organic Red Wine? Of course – is there any other choice?” Cheers to that, Gary.
- How Christmas Is Supposed To Be is out today ahead of Gary’s new album, The Dream Of Christmas, on Friday, and his All The Hits tour which begins on Saturday.
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