December 7, 2008 / 3:43 AM / 11 years ago

"Circus" comes to town for Take That

LONDON (Billboard) - Former boy band Take That is delivering some very grown-up sales figures.

Britain's Take That (L-R) Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Jason Orange and Howard Donald arrive at the Brit Awards at Earls Court in London February 20, 2008. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The act — a U.K. sales phenomenon since original members Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Jason Orange and Howard Donald re-formed in 2005 — posted the biggest first-day U.K. album sale of the year on December 1.

Its new album “The Circus” sold 133,000 copies, according to the Official Charts Co. (OCC), 8,000 ahead of Coldplay’s summer release “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends.”

“There’s a huge amount of love out there for the band,” says Rudy Osorio, head of music at market-leading retailer HMV. “And they have such broad appeal. It makes the album the perfect family gift.”

The band also smashed U.K. box-office records in October when 600,000 tickets for its 2009 stadium tour sold out in less than five hours. The group added more dates and has now sold a total of 700,000 tickets for its 14 stadium shows, kicking off June 5 in Sunderland. The first single from the album, “Greatest Day,” debuted at No. 1 last month. It’s the group’s 11th No. 1, a tally topped only by the Beatles (17) and Irish boy band Westlife (14).

The original incarnation, featuring Robbie Williams, split in 1996. Universal Music U.K. chairman/CEO David Joseph, who signed the re-formed act to the company’s Polydor label, attributes Take That’s success to its desire not to just rehash its old sound.

On its previous album 2006’s “Beautiful World,” “the whole approach was to make them sound like they would if the band had been making records for the previous 10 years,” he says. “Now they can afford to take a creative risk knowing that they look and sound like a supergroup.”

“Beautiful World” went on to outsell all of the band’s previous albums in the United Kingdom, providing 2.5 million of a career sales total of 6.1 million units. However, the rest of the world remains largely immune to its charms.

“The Circus” has been released worldwide, except in France where it hits stores in February and in the United States. Only the original lineup’s swan song album, 1995’s “Nobody Else,” received an official U.S. release, with sales to date of 287,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Joseph said a decision on a U.S. release for “The Circus” will be made “in the next few months.”

In the meantime, the band is concentrating on boosting its U.K. sales, with a primetime TV special airing on Sunday. The act also stars in mass merchant Marks & Spencer’s current Christmas ad campaign.

“All the key indicators are there, and we’re looking at a very healthy first-week number,” Joseph says. “We’ve got a few really great parts of the campaign to unveil in the next two weeks so it’s not all front-loaded — it could lock in at No. 1 for the rest of the year.”


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