Robbie Williams Flashes His Tiger Pants, Previews New Material + Dedicates ‘Angels’ To His Late Manager – Live Review
Robbie Williams brought the hits to a thundering performance at the Apple Music Festival
Robbie Williams gets a lot of stick. Unfairly so.
From his work in progress catchphrase (his words) of "YOUR ASS IS MINE!" to his famous Tiger Y-fronts, which he gleefully reveals to the front row (whilst grabbing a handful), you can see why Williams can easily end up as the butt of jokes. His peers have mocked him over the years too, with Noel Gallagher once famously referring to him as “that fat dancer from Take That”.
But, at this point, Robbie Williams is above all of that. Now a staggering 25 years into his career, Williams is above sneers. Having announced his eleventh solo album earlier last night (Sunday 25), Williams clearly has immense staying power.
Strutting around in a white butterfly print suit, Williams is comfortable with himself. He knows who he is and how people perceive him. He has no interest in trying to be the coolest person in the room. It’s refreshing in a way, and it would have been impossible to achieve regardless because charismatic Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was in attendance. (Fun fact: when Williams bent over to spank his own arse at one point, Klopp fist pumped. Life is strange.)
Robbie Williams is far more interested in making sure people have a laugh and a good time, and he brings out as many hits as he can to make sure that happens. It’s impossible not to enjoy yourself.
Accompanied by an 11-piece band, Williams rattled through his biggest hits in a tight 90-minute set, including ‘Let Me Entertain You’, ‘Rock DJ’ and ‘Candy’ (which Robbie said is “a f**ker to sing”).
Williams regularly camps things up, but he shows that he’s just as capable of creating intimate, endearing moments in his live shows alongside the bigger, flashier sections. For ‘Better Man’, Robbie brought out his Dad, Peter Williams. When the pair reached the chorus – featuring the lyric “I just want to be a better man” – Pete, who was absent for part of Robbie’s childhood, grasped the singer’s hand.
Elsewhere, on a purely selfish note, I was really f**king happy when Robbie played his cover of Carson and Gaile’s ‘Somethin’ Stupid’, which was one of the first songs that ‘got me into’ music. Despite being one of William’s biggest hits, it was only the second time he had played it live.
At one point, a bra was thrown on stage. When Williams picked it up and brought it close to his chest, he squeezed before yelling: "that's f**king padded!" Was Robbie... Disappointed... Or…something? Who knows. (Robbie Williams knows.)
Williams also premiered two new songs from his upcoming album, Heavyweight Entertainment Show, which was announced hours before his performance at The Roundhouse, for the Apple Music Festival. They're not a huge change in direction from his earlier material, but ‘Sensational’, which closed the set, sounded like it had the most promise, but it definitely should not keep its place at the end of the setlist.
In one of his many anecdotes (Williams’ in-between song chat ranges from the very funny to the peculiar – see above), he tells a story about showing his daughter a video, when they got some "rare one-on-one time together", of his enormous 2003 Knebworth gigs. Her reaction to Dad’s greatest triumph destroyed him: “I want cake,” she said.
Lasers shimmered during ‘Feel’, Williams used a karaoke machine to get everyone singing along to ‘My Way’, and the massive chorus to ‘Angels’ refused to die. He dedicated the latter to his long-term manager, David Enthoven, who died last month. “He truly saved my life. He’s left a big hole in my life,” Robbie said.
Robbie Williams occupies a place in UK music that no other living artist can currently fill. He is a unique talent and personality, and even if he might be achingly uncool, he’s too much fun to ignore.
1. Let Me Entertain You
2. Rock DJ
4. Come Undone (with U2’s "I Still Haven't Found”)
5. Back for Good (Take That song)
6. Minnie the Moocher (Cab Calloway and His Orchestra cover)
7. Somethin' Stupid (Carson and Gaile cover)
9. Better Man (with Peter Williams)
11. Old Before I Die
15. Kids (with "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin intro)
16. My Way (Claude François cover)
Robbie Williams' new album, Heavyweight Entertainment Show, will be released on November 4.
For more on the Apple Music Festival, click here.