IT'S one hell of a (Take That and) party.

Southampton has been graced with the final week of the UK tour of The Band, which became the fastest selling musical in history when it was announced, promising a show based on all the hits of the world's most famous man band.

I've now seen the full show three times and it's lost none of its spectacular sparkle, even if there was no finale curtain call from the boys themselves this time.

Audiences later in the week may have more luck. But the cast were met with a reaction bordering on hysteria even without the appearance of Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald, who have co-produced the show with the backing of Robbie Williams and Jason Orange.

The rapturous reception for the finale saw the crowd on their feet and the dress circle actually shaking to the sounds of Shine, Hold Up a Light and The Flood.

I loved every minute of two and a half hours of back to back boyband belters all wrapped around a five star show with lots of nods to the 90s, an era that was very special to me.

I am just about as close to The Band's target audience as you can get, but you don't need to be a late 30s or early 40s Thatter to appreciate an utterly brilliant piece of theatre.

It's a joyous, heart-warming, tear-jerking look at the lives of five teenage girls for whom the band means everything.

We meet them 25 years on, learning their back story of love and loss to the soundtrack of smash hits like Relight My Fire, Rule The World and A Million Love Songs.

The Band is not the story of Take That. Surprisingly, given the high profile BBC talent show responsible for casting this musical’s five male singers and dancers, nor is it even the tale of the boyband who weave in and out of its narrative. It's the story of how pop music defines our lives.

From the pen of Calendar Girls creator Tim Firth, The Band is at times poignant yet hysterically funny play, at times top notch musical and at times raucous pop concert.

The cast are universally brilliant, particularly Rachel Lumberg who displays sadness and joy so brilliantly. But this is an ensemble piece at heart.

From the moment I revealed myself as a huge Take That fan during a very early rehearsal workshop with the cast by throwing some shapes at the side of the stage, through the world and Southern premieres in Manchester and Southampton and three heart-stopping encounters with Gary Barlow et al, I've loved every minute of seeing this uplifting theatrical treat become a huge success.

I sincerely hope The Band will be back. But either way, I will Never Forget it.