Take That: Opening Night

Take That exclusive rehearsals

The 60 ft mechanical man which Take That have nicknamed 'OM'

Take That lived up to the hype surrounding their reunion with Robbie Williams as they kicked off their sell-out tour. The show - staged at Sunderland's Stadium Of Light football ground - was the group's first full concert as a five-piece since 1995.

There had been some speculation ahead of the gig over whether Robbie's nerves would hold out. He has openly talked about suffering from stage fright and his dislike of touring. And the 37-year-old looked emotional as they finally appeared together to perform their hit The Flood.

Many fans felt he was the highlight of the night as he performed his own hits - Rock DJ and Angels - to a huge sing-along. Williams rejoined for last year's Progress album after quitting the line-up in 1995, paving the way for years of acrimony. He held off rejoining when the band reformed for a series of shows in 2006, instead concentrating on his solo career. But they eventually buried the hatchet and secretly entered a recording studio in 2009.

The group teased the audience of 55,000 as they opened as a four-piece without Williams and performed Rule The World. As the rain came so did the hits Greatest Day, Patience and Shine. Chants for Robbie echoed around the stadium before he flew out of the screen behind the stage on a high-wire to the biggest scream of the night. He belted out Let Me Entertain You before shouting: "You look beautiful Sunderland."

He went on to joke about celebrity gagging orders and was pulled across the stage in a chariot by scantily-clad dancers. At one point, Jason Orange said "It's been 16 years since Robbie left the band." Williams replied: "I didn't leave. I was sacked!"

Take That's previous Circus Tour in 2009 was the fastest selling in UK history. This tour has smashed that record. The concert was the first of 29 dates which will see the band perform to 1.75 million fans in the UK and Ireland.

(c) Sky News 2011

More about the Progress Live tour on Robbie's official website

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