In the early 90s, crumpled posters from the centre of Smash Hits featuring greasy-haired, manicured members of Take That were a teenage-girl bedroom staple. At the time, there was no bigger pop band than the euphorically sappy Mancunians, a self-described reaction to the memorable local dirge of the likes of The Smiths and Joy Division that’s instead centred on colour and joy. And boy, did they do it well.

Then the five-piece were a shining, pre-cursor to the world of X-Factor only with better songs and better voices, complete with a deep cheddar-factor and a transportive emotional effect. For three records, they were on a massive high. What’s most impressive is that a quarter of a century or so later, it feels nothing like as ‘past their moment’ as you might expect. Of course, there’s been plenty of evolution along the way, and with massive staging and the air of a ‘show’ as much as a gig, the remaining three members have found a way to continue delivering on their legacy.

Tonight’s show features flames and massive gusts of confetti, snow, water and choreographed stair-climbing. It’s like a 90s pop video come to life, but backed, thankfully, by radio-friendly sing-alongs that have largely stood the test of time. ‘Everything Changes’, for example, is delivered by Howard alongside a soaring sax solo, sounding every bit like the loved up teenage disco it once soundtracked.

‘Shine’ delivers the band in their maximalist modern-day form, and while there are lesser tracks dotted around, like ‘Windows’ and Giants’ early on, there’s plenty of euphoria to go around. The ‘This Life’ tour is structured in part as the story of Take That. A few songs in, a mini studio and Mancunian 80s décor are shone on the side of the massive mobile staircases that are the stage’s main prop, and Gary, Howard and Mark take us back through the years.

There’s Barlow at a battered piano delivering a near-solo version of gorgeous early hit ‘A Million Love Songs’, an almost blasé moment with relatively minimalist staging, but superbly performed. There’s snippets of the breakthrough early days, before a Top of the Pops referencing run through of massive breakout song ‘Pray’, and then there’s the split, and a dive into each of the three remaining members solo hits.

Of course, while Robbie Williams went on to be a massive solo star in his own right, the three members on stage tonight had relatively modest solo success, and their individual solo renditions feel like it, too. They’re a low ebb of the set, lacking energy, and Owens’ voice on his solo track ‘Clementine’ in particular doesn’t sit quite right. Still, the ‘This Life’ theme is a nice one: euphoric as the set as a whole (uplifting romance is kind of Take That’s thing), it’s not just about self-reflection, but also about firing a message into the crowd about living life, making the most of it.

When we get to the section around reunion, which eventually leads to the current three-piece, we’re treated to modern-day hits ‘Patience’ and ‘The Flood’, both of which are powerfully prime examples of the band’s continued songwriting ability. As the set progresses, there’s an increasingly manic feel to the audience, who during the hits are delivering back every word at a volume that quickly overwhelms the band in the chorus.

In between tours of the front row and countless costume changes, more indifferent songs from the more recent records are slipped in, but the entire place knows we’re heading for a monster finale. The staging once again shines: there’s a Take That logo dropped from the roof in rain drops, the band are pursued up staircases by licks of flame, and a circus that looks a little like our own Olympia Theatre passes through all the seasons of the year with flowers and snow behind the band as they perform ‘Hold Up A Light’.

The big finale, though, is in a genuinely moving rendition of ‘Never Forget’, during which more than 10,000 people yell back the chorus, and a rousing ‘Rule The World’ performed in front of a massive spinning globe. A show of the heft of the pop icons is perhaps the tracks that are left out: iconic moments like twin covers ‘Could It Be Magic’, and ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ are notably left on the cutting room floor.

In short, Take That are everything you’d hope they would be. Intensely uplifting, heavy on the hits, and not afraid of embracing their cheesy side. There are weaknesses in the band as a three-piece, and their modern-day material isn’t the band at their peak. But as a 90s nostalgia night that connects like a glitter-encased mug of hot chocolate served up in front of a still-thriving Top Of the Pops, this is bang on the mark: exceptionally well presented and wonderfully good fun.