Last week’s Manchester Arena gig by Gary Barlow was a first for me. Photographing from behind the mixing desk, it was difficult to make out the Frodsham frontman without a telephoto lens. However it was a good opportunity to capture some shots of an impressive stage show (a paper snow storm after only two songs? Now THAT’S confidence).

Gary Barlow at Phone 4u Arena, ManchesterThe crowd was of mixed ages with a large portion of middle-aged women in ‘I LOVE Gary’ t-shirts, but also a large number of young women – obviously fans from his X Factor stint (or perhaps had raided their mothers’ CD collections). It was the loudest crowd I have ever heard. Close on 20,000 screaming voices, screaming every little movement, every gesture, it made my fillings rattle.

Now, I’m not a fan of the guy. I don’t like his politics and, aside from one or two recent Take That numbers, his music tends to leave me a little cold. Despite this, there’s no denying the strength of his voice, the technical assuredness of his songwriting, or his ability to work a crowd. True, this was essentially a home-coming gig and he didn’t have to do much/anything to win the crowd over, but he gave it everything – and blew the roof off the place.

Review and images by Chris Payne


What: Gary Barlow

Where: Phones 4u Arena, Manchester

When: April 2014 and touring

More info:,

Gary Barlow at Phone 4u Arena, Manchester