If there is anyone in music who knows how to put on a mammoth stage spectacle and make it look effortless; it’s Robbie Williams. The once boyband member turned solo superstar has been busy promoting his biggest hits around the world through his latest Let Me Entertain You Tour; a fitting title given his reputation of doing just that for the best part of 25 years as one of the most celebrated and in demand live performers in pop.
Having wowed the crowds around Australia with shows in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne throughout October, Robbie turned his attention to Sydney last night for a stellar performance filled with some of his finest, and some of pop music’s most successful songs.
While it was only 2013 that Williams last delivered a set to Australian fans, his latest tour isn’t one to promote a new release but to celebrate his lengthy and acclaimed career as one of the dominating figures in pop music. It is a reflection on his 25 years as a songwriter, a vocalist and a world renowned stage performer and he has chosen a set to capture many of his key achievements this time around.
The expected hits were out on show at one point or another during the 2 hour performance with staple Robbie chart toppers Let Me Entertain You and Rock DJ providing a full throttle intro and an early opportunity for the sold out Allphones crowd to raise the roof off the venue with unashamed teen-like screams and gushing “woos”; despite the audience being made up of predominantly late twenty through to mid-forty-somethings.
As the up-tempo hits from the William’s catalogue like the cinematic Millennium and Kylie-collaborative pop-rocker Kids provided plenty of opportunities for the Brit popstars fans to get up off their seats and grind along with the bad boy of pop music, the ballads were also offered generously throughout the set.
Come Undone, which Robbie commented “was a bit of a hit here”, found a nesting spot early on in the performance and mid-career notable, Feel lit up the venue with green lasers and a flawless vocal from the leading man. It was the musician’s signature hit Angels however, that pulled everything together and scored the winning goal of the night. As candles appeared behind Williams on the giant video screen, the power-ballad was belted out with conviction and heart; Williams periodically holding his microphone out to the crowd for the audience to participate through providing the hit-maker with a sturdy vocal support.
While the hits were on tap, there were some surprising omissions from last night’s set. Having been lucky enough to catch Robbie at London’s O2 Arena for his Take The Crown tour a number of years ago, the set list of that tour would have been a much more fitting collection to form a greatest hits style set for this Let Me Entertain You tour. Songs like No Regrets, Strong, Let Love Be Your Energy and a handful of successful singles from his Life Thru A Lens debut such as Lazy Days and Old Before I Die where replaced by equally surprising inclusions that, given the tour being about his biggest hits, aren’t widely regarded as greatest Robbie hits; tracks like the horn-section-led and Mexican scented Me and My Monkey, Hot Fudge and Monsoon haven’t exactly been tracks that have helped shape Williams’ commercial success. Robbie also managed to fit in a few covers; spots that could have easily been taken up by more of his own successes.
A key feature to Robbie’s latest road trip is the stage design and visuals that have been put together to accompany and compliment his performance which include a runway leading out into the crowd where he got up close and personal with his fans and an enormous screen which was cast behind the band with changing themes to compliment the mood of each number and were vibrant and colorful and one of the very best we have seen on any tour.
It wouldn’t be a Robbie Williams show without the unscripted banter that came in the bucket load during last night’s performance. From recounting his blunder of hitting on a 15 year old at an earlier show this month, showing his arse more than a handful of times during the set as he pranced around the venue in a leather kilt for covers of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and The Arrows’ I Love Rock n Roll, or claiming writing credits to Oasis’ Wonderwall during a back to back Feel/Angels/Supreme a capella performance, it was all genuine, unedited Robbie from start to end!
An ironic and nostalgic live reading of Life Thru A Lens hidden track and poem, Hello Sir, Remember Me? was also offered to the crowd and was met with a thunderous applause as Robbie ended the poem with a satisfying “Bollocks Sir, kiss my arse…” statement to a teacher who once told the singer that his popstar dreams would remain just that.
Robbie was certainly all about the swagger and unapologetic ballsiness; nothing has changed over the years in that department but the no-holds-barred approach to performing is a feature of Robbie and his live shows that make us love him even more and sets him apart from the average entertainer.
The popular crooner also knows how to work up a crowd – a skill that he has mastered throughout a career that has seen him sell out stadiums the world over for over two decades as both Take That member and solo superstar, going to great lengths to include his fans in the performance.
During Hot Fudge a woman from the crowd was brought up on stage to perform with Robbie in a propped up bed with kinky visuals showing a frisky couple’s headless bodies while the superstar tributed many of his songs to ladies in the audience; some who have been following the singer around the country on his latest tour or those that he was able to use in witty reworded a capella versions of his songs; changing the lyrics to Angels at one point to welcome a fan back from the toilet, but always in the name of fun and always to get a reaction from his audience.
The musician touched on his former boyband glory with a beautiful acoustic performance of his signature Take That hit, Back For Good, which was delivered with the help of support act Lawson following a bouncy rendition of The Road to Mandalay and a dedication to his son Charlie was performed in the form of new penning Motherfucker with Australian musicians Tim and Finn offering their acoustic support. It was Better Man however that pulled at the heartstrings as William’s invited his father Peter Williams on stage to perform the number alongside him, making the show a bit of a family affair and showing off the sensitive side to a star who is as famous for his former bad boy image as he is for his music.
A fitting cover of Frank Sinatra’s My Way; a nod to his ‘other life’ as an acclaimed swing vocalist, closed the show and was a pristine high to cap the night on 2 hours of hits and supreme showmanship from one of the very best in the business.
So what is it about Robbie show that keeps the fans coming back? Is it the numerous hits that have made him one of the most successful acts in music? Is it the cocky swagger that teases and excites us? Is it his chameleon-like showmanship that can switch from ballad crooner to rock juggernaut in a second? Is it expecting the unexpected? With Robbie – you get it all…and then some.
Let Me Entertain You
Me and My Monkey
The Road to Mandalay (With Lawson )
Back for Good (Take That song) with Lawson
Motherfucker (Acoustic with Tim and Finn)
Better Man (with Peter Williams)
Feel / Angels / Wonderwall (claiming writing credits)/ Supreme
We Will Rock You (Queen cover)
I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll (The Arrows cover)
She’s the One (World Party cover)
Robbie performs one final night in Sydney at Allphones Arena on 28th October.
::: RenownedForSound.com’s Editor and Founder –
Interviewing and reviewing the best in new music and globally recognized artists is his passion.
Over the years he has been lucky enough to review thousands of music releases and concerts and interview artists ranging from top selling superstars like 27-time Grammy Award winner Alison Krauss, Boyz II Men, Roxette, Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Loeb and iconic Eagles front man/songwriter, Glenn Frey through to more recent successes including Newton Faulkner, Janelle Monae and Caro Emerald.
Brendon manages and coordinates the amazing team of writers on RenownedForSound.com who are based in the UK, the U.S and Australia.