Superfans take their Take That love too far
- Credit: Archant
As a grunge and metal fan during the 1990s, I had a certain image to keep up.
With my long, undercut hair and tie-dye t-shirts, I didn't let on to to many people that I had a guilty secret - I liked Take That.
Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit and Metallica's Enter Sandman were uncomfortable cassette playlist neighbours for Back for Good, Pray and Relight My Fire.
My odd tastes have endured for 25 years, though.
On June 20 I'm going to see Metallica live for the first time. Given the chance, I'd have also gone to the Take That gig at Carrow Road on Thursday.
I get why people like Take That: excellent tunes, impressive shows and genuine talent.
But I really do not understand the superfans.
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I sometimes wonder whether they should see a doctor instead of a concert.
First up, why on earth would you camp overnight and queue for countless hours, risking awful weather and intense boredom, just to get closer to the stage?
It's not like you're camping in order to have a chance of buying a house or being given a loaf of bread, it's arriving ludicrously early for an event that you already have a ticket for - you are guaranteed a place.
In such circumstances, I'd prefer a night in bed and a place a bit further back.
I suppose that's the difference between someone who likes a band and someone who REALLY likes a band: the sort of person who wants to "be at the front to try to touch Gary Barlow", as one fan boasted before the Norwich concert.
If I said the same thing about Kylie while queuing to watch the pint-sized pop princess, I'd be cuffed and made the subject of a restraining order.
There's a fine line between obsession and a darker definition of the same word.
Obsession makes people do strange things - like watching the same musicians over and over again: the same singers, the same songs, the same show, just a different location.
I like life's infinite variety, so try not to go to a holiday location, watch a film or read a book twice. I've certainly got no interest in seeing one of my favourite bands more than two or three times.
The superfans, on the other hand, have seen Take That in concert dozens of times.
Some also have tattoos of the band members, and others even dress up like them.
Remarkably, there are, among the hardcore fans, those who are married. So somewhere out there are husbands (and possibly wives) who have to accept that their other half is having a mental affair with Gary, Howard or Mark.
Maybe there's a shrine in their house and there are occasions when "Gary" is cried out during moments of passion.
Now jealousy is a dark and dangerous thing, but I'd be asking some tough questions if my wife or partner were wearing Take That knickers and spending our money following them around the world.
I had my moments as a football obsessive, following Norwich City far and wide (though never having Robert Fleck on my boxer shorts). But I was single.
And, while football does attract some oddballs, at least every match is different.
On Wednesday, there were Chelsea and Arsenal fans who'd taken eight flights or a 57-hour train journey to get to Baku for the Europa League final. Many would call it madness, but it was a special occasion, not the 25th staging of the same show in a new location.
Maybe it's time for the Take That superfans to take off their Howard pants, deconsecrate their shrines and stop trying to touch the band members.
Oh, and spend some quality time with their husbands.