FANS might have waited for a decade-and-a-half to see the country’s biggest “manband” tour once more as a five-piece.

And with a huge robot as the backdrop, ticker tape, dancers wielding flaming torches, a giant caterpillar, roller-skating bees and a wall of water — from the off it was obvious this was not simply a concert, but a music spectacular.

The “boys” burst on to the stage at the City of Manchester Stadium on Saturday night as a four-piece.

The rain could not dampen the mood — even the band joked about how nice it was to be “home” with the obligatory bad weather.

Robbie might not have been with them, but his presence was certainly felt, with quips from Gary about how they were being joined by “someone else” later.

Then, pulled out on a glass chariot, Take That's wayward son was back on stage and into the hearts of the fans.

He performed some of his biggest hits — and there was barely a dry eye in the house when he belted out Angels.

Robbie also displayed his typical cheeky banter before being joined on stage by his bandmates for what could possibly be both the lowest key and most spectacular moment of the night — a group hug.

Progress Live did lack some of the fun and spectacle of 2009’s Circus tour.

But gigantic robots — even if there was a technical hitch which left Howard and Mark trapped in the arms of the giant Om — pyrotechnics and the sheer energy of the show meant it was still out of this world.

And if the City of Manchester Stadium had a roof, it would certainly have been blown off when Gary, Jason, Howard, Mark and Robbie performed the anthemic Never Forget.

Fans’ 15 years of Patience was well rewarded.