Take That’s GARY BARLOW on relighting his fire in lockdown

God, I miss playing music on stage. For me, and for a million other artists as well as everyone who loves live performance, the pandemic has locked away one of life’s greatest joys.

My wife Dawn says: ‘What you miss is people clapping and screaming at you.’ All right, there’s some truth in that, I’ll admit.

But there’s another side to the story, and it’s something every musician will understand. I’m only completely me when I’m playing music for an audience.

It’s what I’ve done, since I was a teenager gigging in social clubs in the 1980s and trying to keep in time with the bass and the drums.

Nobody was screaming at me then — or if they were, it wasn’t printable.

So through successive lockdowns, I’ve been finding ways to keep making live music. On Friday you can sample it for yourself when my supergroup special, I’m With The Band, airs on BBC One.

It features some people who are genuinely good mates as well as superb musicians, including Jamie Cullum, Mica Paris, Tom Fletcher and James Bay. We’re playing a bunch of songs for the sheer fun of it.