What Happens On Tour: Take That’s Howard on tour riders and pranks

Everyone knows what to expect from a music concert. The lights go down, the audience erupts into a chorus of applause and the idolised superstar arrives on stage, bursting with energy, ready to entertain the throng of their adoring fans for one night only.

It’s pretty spectacular.

But, ever wondered what happens once the curtains close and the lights go up? Are there diva tantrums? Catty fights between dancers? Tour riders demanding vitamin water to bathe pet dogs? Yes Mariah, we might be looking at you for that one, girl.

If you have, you’ve come to the right place as Metro.co.uk will give you an all-access, backstage look into what it really takes to make the tours of your favourite popstars come to life, while also reminiscing on some unique moments that made headline news.

Touring is not only an experience for the performer and the fans – the backing dancers, singers, stylists and others are also very much a part of the process and, perhaps more importantly, the backbone of these mammoth shows.

So grab your backstage pass as we get the inside scoop from Take That’s Howard Donald because, in this case, What Happens On Tour (Doesn’t) Stay On Tour…

In an exclusive backstage look at Take That’s most recent tour, it’s revealed that Gary Barlow’s dressing room is nicknamed ‘the penthouse suite’.

It’s certainly not an exaggerated claim either, judging by the sheer size of his dressing room at London’s O2 Arena, which is undeniably fit for a king.

Of course, Gary’s not really that much of a diva to label his own backstage quarters ‘the penthouse’ but it is a sign of the cheeky banter between the current Take That line-up – Gary, Mark Owen and Howard Donald.

‘It’s not a typical thing that Gary has on his tour rider this lovely penthouse suite,’ Howard told Metro.co.uk.

Still, they’re not always fortunate enough to have sprawling dressing rooms like the O2 Arena, as Howard admits: ‘We took full advantage of the O2 because we saw the size of Gary’s room and he was right next door to the dancers’ dressing room as well, which is always a bonus watching them go in and out.

‘We went to a bunch of places in Europe for instance, and some of the places weren’t as big as the O2. I think we were in Italy and the rooms were literally tiny, I could literally just about lie down in my room and Gary’s was exactly the same.

‘I had just about enough room to be able to do my stretches. And that was about it. It’s not like he has to have the biggest room, it goes round to different people on different times.’

Howard humbly admits to having the messiest dressing room with Mark a close second, but his tour rider is certainly the thriftiest.

During a snoop of his bandmate’s living space at the O2, Gary found… wait for it…

A packet of crisps and chocolate biscuits.

Calm down there Howard, you don’t want to blow the budget.

Addressing his pretty safe tour rider, Howard explained: ‘It’s typical of me to have anything Cadbury’s in my room.

‘I always have sparkling rosemary water, I don’t have any alcohol but there will always be an espresso machine in the room. That’s an essential.’

As for his bandmates, Howard dished: ‘I think Gary has his fridge stocked with a couple of nice bottles of wine in it for after the show.

‘He knows more famous people than we do so if he’s got any guests back he will get them in the room so they don’t get bothered by anybody else, he always has that supply for anyone that does want to have a drink and doesn’t want to mingle with anybody else in the hospitality room.

‘You find that guests who may be in the public eye don’t want to be bothered too much.’

He added: ‘I’d say Gary has the most expensive stuff in his room and Mark always has a machine that pumps moisture into the air like a smoke machine. It puts moisture into the air to make sure it’s good for his voice.

‘He always makes sure the air conditioning is turned off too.’

They’re not always so sensible though as Howard recalled some pretty cheeky pranks over the years, like flashing his Manchester United underwear in a sea of Liverpool fans, or pretending to be caretakers sweeping the floor in the middle of dance routines.

It may seem as though That That are rarely off tour.

Since reforming in 2006, they’ve embarked on six mammoth tours that have taken them around the world – and, of course, earned themselves a pretty penny while fulfilling the dreams of their adoring fans.

Their various formations have seen the likes of Robbie Williams and Jason Orange come and go, but Gary, Mark and Howard are the last three men standing.

With eight studio albums under their belt, it only made sense that the trio celebrate their stellar, unique career and all that they’ve withstood, with a Greatest Hits tour, which saw them host an incredible eight nights at the O2 Arena.

Now that they’re mature family men though, tour life looks a lot different for the trio who aren’t exactly throwing wild parties once the lights go down.

‘My routine of getting back to the hotel – we normally do run straight after the gig, so we don’t usually stay around,’ Howard revealed.

‘Once back at the hotel, I always have a salt bath to try and get rid of any acid from your muscles. If you go to bed without a salt bath, your arms and legs are quite jittery so you need something to bring you down.’

He continued: ‘I know Gary likes a glass of red wine in the bar, I’m not really a drinker and obviously Mark isn’t, so that’s not the sort of thing that would calm me down.

‘That’s my routine as boring as it sounds.’

Are you kidding? A salt bath before bed? Sounds like a dream.

For all the glamour of touring though – and fans desperately trying to sneak into their hotels – Howard says it’s the small things that make the shows memorable.

‘We are like a family and we always say we have as much respect for the dancers as what the dancers [do] for us, because they’re a massive part of the show,’ the singer explained.

‘The best moments are when you’re on your last show, and all the dancers literally come to the front of the stage down into the pit, and they’re all cheering and they’re all clapping singing Never Forget.

‘It’s a real, highly emotional moment. It’s quite a sad moment as well because as much as it’s a celebration, it’s a sad moment that the tour is over because it is the life.

‘You go on tour and as knackered as you are, the shows are very tiring and you’re thinking, you’re not even halfway through yet and you sort of want it to end because you’re physically exhausted.’

Howard continued: ‘But once you’ve gone past halfway, you are actually dreading the end because tour life is the best part of Take That.

‘I miss being on tour, it’s the best bit.’

Ah, all good things have to come to an end, Howard. Much like this backstage pass to life with Take That on the road.

It was sweet while it lasted.

Go beyond the stage with What Happens On Tour every Wednesday.

Take That’s Odyssey: Greatest Hits Live is out on 15 November.

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