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LIVE: ROBBIE WILLIAMS, Perth – 7 Mar, 2018

| 9 March 2018 | Reply

LIVE: ROBBIE WILLIAMS, Perth – 7 Mar, 2018
With The Bamboos
Perth Arena; Wednesday, 7 March, 2018
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Stuart McKay

The previous night at the same venue Queen with Adam Lambert brought the rock and roll spectacle. Tonight, Robbie Williams adopted a very different tack, taking the name of his Heavy Entertainment Show album hyper-literally and presenting a show more akin to a TV variety special, complete with comedy, a special guest, shed-loads of his cheeky charisma, and giving his ardent fans a night all about holding arms aloft, singing along, and having fun – nothing more or less.

Not that we’re comparing the two shows at all – they are completely different beasts, and whilst Queen was the musical winner, Williams’ fans can rightly argue that to them, he cannot put a foot wrong.

Openers The Bamboos played a strong set of modern soul and r&b with some jazzy flourishes, but there are no doubts who most of the 14,000 people crammed into Perth Arena are here to see.

Williams knows it’s about him, not his very good band – not even the songs, really. Fans buy more into the man and his cheeky grin, adults-only humour (most of it thankfully going over the heads of the smattering of kids in the crowd – unlike his blue language), and resounding charisma. So, for this tour, he eschews most of the bells and whistles for a very simple set that is a cross between an Elvis in Vegas TV special, and a heavyweight boxing event, complete with a clutch of energetic female dancers clad in not much at all.

First though, we’re invited to “be upstanding” for a hilarious (and, yes, cheeky and a bit blue) hymn – God Bless Our Robbie, before the man of the moment takes the stage in prize fighter’s robe and starts Heavy Entertainment Show with his back to the crowd. With a flourish he’s in the face of 14,000 people at once, clad in a kilt or man-skirt, and isn’t afraid of lifting it up to thrust his jocks this way and that.

Let Me Entertain You finds the sound a little muddy, especially his vocals and the guitars – but others around the stadium had no such gripes, so perhaps we were sitting in a rare dead spot. We’ve certainly never complained about the sound at the Arena before.

“Let me re-introduce myself,” says the star of the show. “I am Robbie Williams – that is my band – and this is my cock!,” grabbing a handful of his knickers. The predominantly female crowd go wild – and not for the last time, as their idol toys with them all night like a randy cat with 14,000 mice.

A handful of big hits follow – Monsoon, his version of Cab Calloway’s scat-blues classic Minnie The Moocher, Love My Life, sung perched atop a ludicrous boxing glove swinging over the heads of the crowd, and Millenium.

In between are comic stories – a cover of George Michael’s Freedom ’90 is preceded by Williams admitting, “if God gave me one cock to suck… it’s be my own… if he gave me two… well George – you missed out!”; stories about his kids swearing (and him swearing back) are hilarious; and he is in tune enough with our culture to make a joke about his time with Take That then proudly proclaim himself a “cashed-up bogan.”

A lengthy section where Williams sang a line sans band from huge hits including Living On A Prayer, You’re The Voice, Rehab, Take On Me, Simply The Best and others, then allowed the crowd to sing the next lines back, is fun but better suited to a karaoke night, and some more of his own material would have been a better fit. Not that the audience seemed to mind one bit, I hasten to add.

26-year old Lisa, an attractive blonde in the front row, is asked to sing a few lines of Come Undone, then later invited onstage to canoodle with Williams through Somethin’ Stupid, and plays up to the role Nicole Kidman took in the video clip so much so that Williams jokes about being aroused before moving on to his ill-advised foray into rap, Rudebox. It hasn’t got any better since its 2006 release.

Kids is far better, and a lovely story about his Dad inspiring him to perform by singing Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline to him in the late 1970’s provides an orchestrated but heartwarming moment when he – Pete Conway, Williams’ father – strolls onstage in a matching kilt/man-skirt and joins his son on a sofa down the end of the ramp to sing the song for the audience.

She’s The One and Feel (with a dirge-like synth intro that was far too bass-heavy and painfully uncomfortable in the sternum from where we were sitting, but again, which others seemed not to feel) saw some impressive laser effects – really, the only fancy production of the whole show – and an excellent Rock DJ saw most of the crowd on its feet, dancing and singing.

With this being the final date of the tour, Williams gets personal during the encore, starting with a moving rendition of Better Man, which he explains was only a hit in Australia, before thanking the band, crew, management – and Australia.

“I feel I can be myself here – I can be a bogan with you, tell jokes and be rude. If I said some of this stuff in England it’d be all over the tabloids! Fuck you, England,” he shouts with glee. There’s no greater praise than that.

Angels sees the stadium light up with camera phones and is emotional as ever – no doubt pretty much all of us of a certain age have an Angels moment, before Williams plays “the Australian National anthem” – Men At Work’s Down Under, a great slice of romp n’ roll, then closes the show with a low key My Way, just him and songwriting partner Guy Chambers on piano.

Entertainment is what Robbie Williams offers, and entertainment is what his fans lapped up – every tiny drop of it. It may not be high-brow or particularly intellectual, but it gets you right in the feels and gives you a good, good time, and no-one was leaving Perth Arena without a smile on their face.

Set List:

God Bless Our Robbie
The Heavy Entertainment Show
Let Me Entertain You
Minnie the Moocher
Freedom 90
Love My Life
Livin’ on a Prayer / Rehab / Take On Me / Simply The Best / Kiss / U Can’t Touch This / Stayin’ Alive
Come Undone / Never Forget
Somethin’ Stupid
Sweet Caroline
She’s the One
Rock DJ

Better Man
Down Under
My Way

Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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