SLIDESHOW GALLERY: Gary Barlow at the Opera House - Review

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GARY Barlow has magic powers.

Whenever he starts singing - and it doesn’t matter which song - 3,000 women instinctively raise both hands in the air and sway wildly from side to side.

Gary Barlow concert at the Opera House

Gary Barlow concert at the Opera House

It’s like a giant aerobics class, but slightly sweatier and with a lot more screaming.

Say what you want about Barlow but the 41-year-old knows how to play an audience as well as he can write a tune.

It is easy to be cynical about someone who performs songs more middle of the road than white lines, an unashamed Royalist and who appeared as a judge on a Simon Cowell programme accused of ruining proper music, but any mickey-taking would be doing him a disservice.

For starters, I don’t care what your musical taste is - it is hard to deny that Patience, which signalled Take That’s second coming, is the complete pop song. Rule The World, Back For Good and Shine aren’t far behind.

Rarely can Blackpool’s Opera House have greeted a performer with such rapture. So loud were the screams, they almost drowned out the opener, Greatest Day.

It was funny to watch the few men in the audience caught between an urge to enjoy themselves and an acute awareness they really shouldn’t been seen enjoying themselves.

What Barlow did well was make sure it wasn’t just about the singing. He told gags, put himself down, made himself seem more one of us.

“Did you enjoy Christmas, Blackpool?” he shouted, clutching his belly before adding “everything’s just that little bit tighter”.

He introduced one song as being “from my second solo album, the one that sold 37 copies. I’ve got a load in my garage if you want one.”

Inviting top comedian Peter Kay on to stage for a 10 minute love-in (the pair singing the theme to hit cartoon Top Cat together) added to the light-hearted feeling.

But it was more about the music after the break, Barlow reeling off hit after hit, ending with a rousing Never Forget.

As he waved to the crowd one last time, you could almost hear the women in the audience swooning.

He and his music might be not everyone’s cup of tea but credit where it’s due – the bloke is superb at what he does and delivered a terrific show.

How good, too, to see one of the nation’s biggest stars in Blackpool. “What a beautiful venue,” he said, surveying the Opera House. “I’m so glad I came to Blackpool, I’ve wanted to play here for years.”

And there are plenty of folk hoping he’ll be back to play it again soon.