HE'S filled football stadiums and sold out arenas; he's written hit musicals and even sung for the Queen but Gary Barlow has never done anything like this before.

In A Different Stage, his two-hour one-man show, Gary shares his life story leaving nothing off the table.

It is very much the full-on theatrical experience and benefits greatly from the input of Gary's regular theatrical partner Tim Firth, writer of Calendar Girls and The Band.

It would have been very easy for the Take That star to have simply plonked himself behind a piano and rattled out the hits or take part in a mock 'interview'. But as he has done throughout his career, Gary has done it properly.

The excitement in the sold-out Quays Theatre at The Lowry was palpable. The majority of the audience were visibly giddy with excitement just seeing a stage set made up of seemingly randomly positioned flight cases with the Take That logo on them.

After funny but a very pointed message that photos and phones were not welcome - would that more artists followed suit - the man himself appeared brew in hand in a red track suit top. You can imagine the roar that went up from the predominantly female audience.

Gary is not an actor but he's most definitely a performer and he carried off what is actually a very demanding show with ease.

We were treated to stories of early family life and his formative years playing the working men's clubs around his home in Frodsham. Multi-million selling superstar he may be but he's retained that down-to-earth touch. The formative years of Take That to world domination, band break ups and reunions were all there.

A Different Stage is a very self-deprecating look at what we tend to forget has been a quite remarkable life. But this was no simple PR stunt.

Our genial host was willing shed light on to some of the darker periods of his life from his battles with bulimia; the tragic death of his baby daughter Poppy and his first attempt to break America as a solo artist.

The show also cleverly covers the departure of Robbie Williams from Take That and even the tax scandal which saw him make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Running through the evening though was the man and his music. Using his original Yamaha organ - bought for him by his dad who traded in all his overtime to buy it for the teenage Gary - and a piano the evening included a veritable greatest hits.

Solo on stage you get the chance to fully appreciate what a great voice he actually has - and just how good a musician he is.

I'm not a Take That fan but even for me - and I suspect many other men in the audience who "been dragged along" as Gary observed - this was a hugely enjoyable and interesting evening.

We laughed a lot, we learned a lot and we were royally entertained.

A Different Stage is a really good theatre show. Even if you'd never heard of Gary Barlow or Take That it would still be a great evening out.

At the end everyone was on their feet, their spirits lifted. It was a brave step for Gary Barlow to take but I for one am so glad he made the effort. Currently the show has a projected limited run.  After his week at The Lowry ends on Sunday Liverpool and Edinburgh are to get it next. Don't be surprised to see it return to theatres in the future. If it does, if you can get a ticket, go along.