My friends and I had a day at the Bord Gais Energy theatre on a Saturday in early November to see The Band of which I knew little.
To say I reacted to its story is an understatement. I was sucker punched by flashback. We all were. The saga of four nineties teenage girls in England smacked of reality and nostalgia too often to be ignored. As time travelled onwards by twenty five years between scenes, myself, my friends (and the majority of the audience it appeared) didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the emotions ignited though a potion of reality, much loved tunes and belly laughs. Take That was one of my favourite live concerts in the last ten years- it was a great show. And now, through musical theatre format, we got to see ourselves in retrospect, and how we reacted to teenage awe back in the day. Smash Hits, Big, Top of the Pops, baggy trousers, waistcoat and floppy velveteen hats- we saw it all.
I expected a fluffy but fun exercise in pop band best of. The story did not allow that. It is tragic and the theme is long lasting throughout the show. I ugly cried and looked for my nearest exit for fear of panic attack induced by tear duct attack.
I was not alone. Audience members all around me wiped their tears.
Too many moments are too true to life in this story for it to be solely a pop band tribute piece. Loyalty in friendships. The marking of such loyalty in friendship bracelets, pacts and writing. The breakdown of said friendships. The reality of life swinging in like a wrecking ball at the wrong time when all should be fun and easy.
The girls reunite for a trip to Prague. Having been to Prague with my friends, we were attacked by memories again. Unlike the show, we avoided the police station thankfully. Like the show, we retained memories of a European chocolate box world straight from a Grimm tale. Just another example of the laughs being in the luggage.
The show opens with a Ceefax image, and immediately we reminisce. We are then shown the boys in all their white linen glory singing tracks to get the Take That juices flowing and the audience members of 35 plus are suddenly fourteen and screeching like time has not past.
One friend grabs my arm- It’s Ballygar- It’s Boyzone! I am yelling back, I know, I know! –because we had seen it before. Five boys in white crooning and shaping, atop a raised platform on a stage. Last time was in a tent in Ballygar town dated approximately 1995. I was wearing my new Man Utd jersey- the grey one. (Fans will recall the disaster of the unlucky jersey). Boyzone were becoming the next big thing and this was probably their last tour in local fields at fairs. Twenty three years later and we were still together watching five white suit cladded Milky bar ad men in a much more age appropriate setting yet craving the irresponsible freedom of being fifteen.
The story reminds us. It is not The Band that really matters. It was the friendship symbolised by the band that all of us possessed that it is all about. We may not wear plastic brackets anymore to show who our mates are but we all know.
A wonderful show. Go if you were a nineties teen. A lover of boybands. A fan of Take That. An admirer of a good tale. A sucker for nostalgia and all the feels.
Bring tissues. There is something wrong with you if this show cannot make you shed a salty tear.