THESE days you’re more likely to see him on the telly, bickering with fellow judge Tulisa Contostavlos on the X Factor.
But Gary Barlow will be back to his ‘normal job’ when he performs a rare solo gig at the Edinburgh Playhouse on Wednesday night.
Life has never been busier for the Take That singer, who has had his most successful year, earning an OBE for masterminding the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert, performing at the Olympics closing ceremony and starting his second series as an X Factor judge.
Barlow’s visit to the Capital is part of a 16-date solo tour - his first for 13 years - and will see him singing songs spanning his lengthy music career, from his Take That days and beyond.
“I’m really excited about these dates,” says the 41-year-old. “Playing live is my favourite thing and I haven’t played a solo show for over a year now.
“Last year playing two London shows was brilliant, we all had such a good time, so I thought, right, let’s get out and see the rest of the country.”
Undoubtedly one of pop’s most successful singer/songwriters, in his 20-year career Barlow has sold over 50 million albums, enjoyed eight No 1 albums, 14 No 1 singles and won six Ivor Novello Awards.
But while the father of three is a heartthrob to millions of women, he insists that he has never considered himself to be ‘cool’. “As a kid, as a teenager, as an adult, I have never, ever been cool,” says the singer.
“I’ve never bought stuff because it’s cool. I’ve never looked at art because it’s cool. I’ve never been interested in it and... I’ve never been fooled by it.
“I think it’s because I’ve got quite a cynical view of the industry,” he continues. “I know how the cool bands spend more time in the dressing room than we do. I know how it works. So when I see someone spouting off, I just think k***head.”
These days Barlow is as famous for being a talent show judge as he is for being a pop idol, but he says that it took him a very long time to get used to his role on the X Factor.
“All of a sudden you’re not a singer,” he says. “You’re just you, talking, on telly... some weeks people love you and some weeks they hate you.
‘I was worried about being myself. I’ve always been criticised, in a way, for being myself. People
said I’m boring and all the rest of it and that was sort of playing on my mind.”
Despite the constant rumours that he’s about to quit the X Factor after numerous spats with his fellow judges over their controversial decisions, Barlow seems to be enjoying his role on TV’s biggest show.
That said, you get the impression that he wouldn’t be fazed if his involvement in the show was to come to an end.
“My view is that actually this is my hobby job,” he says. “My real job is I’m in Take That and if ITV or whoever decide that I’m not good enough then I’ll go back to my normal job.”
Gary Barlow, The Edinburgh Playhouse, Greenside Place, Wednesday, 7pm, £35-£55, 0844-871 3014