Whilst most men were watching Brazil getting their backsides spanked 7-1, Dado was stood with his wife at London’s mightily impressive O2 Arena. We were here to see Robbie on the first of four dates at the venue for his Swings Both Ways tour. I missed a World Cup semi final for a Robbie Williams gig? Yep. Well it was our wedding anniversary* so to be fair football had to take a back seat. I will further ruin any rock and indeed male credibility I have by admitting that this was my fourth Robbie gig (not to mention two Take That shows). I will completely annihilate any remaining shred of credibility I may have possessed by saying I love musicals...which is great because this show was more like a musical than a gig.
Walking on to the stage in all his arrogant glory** for Shine My Shoes, Robbie strutted his way round the walkway. Within two minutes the 18,000 strong crowd were on his side. Was there really ever any doubt they wouldn't be? Supported by an excellent band, dancers and backing singers Robbie was in flying form from the off. Minnie the Moocher and Swing Supreme were two early highlights with both getting the fans swinging...admittedly this crowd may not have been the toughest he has ever faced. In truth I think Robbie could win any crowd over. He isn't just a singer. First and foremost he is an entertainer. I mean no normal singer would do any of the following would they?
- Dress up in a Fat Suit and be dangled mid-air to sing No One Likes A Fat Pop Star
- Lead four of the band (inc Guy Chambers) in a cracking a cappella version of R. Kelly’s Ignition
- Put on a set of Gorilla ears to belt out I Wanna Be Like You
- Bring a bunch of school kids on stage to help him sing High Hopes
- Do his best ‘Pantomime Gay’ impression for Swings Both Ways
- ‘Marry’ Lynn from Dorset whilst she grabbed his backside (you had to be there)
- Conduct the crowd in sing-alongs of karaoke classics like New York, New York and That’s amore
- Duet with his Dad for Do Nothin' till You Hear From Me
There aren’t many people of his generation that could get away with doing any single one of the above let alone all of them. Ok so he may not be your thing, he is after all famously like Marmite, but like any of the old cabaret acts, including his Dad, he will always entertain you in one way or another.
Apart from the swing songs there was a brief medley of hits from Robbie’s ‘Day Job’ including Candy, Old Before I Die, Come Undone and Entertain You,before a glorious run through of the biggest karaoke song of all, My Way. If ever there was a song for Robbie to sing it’s that one.
For the encore, with the usual amount of people deciding to leave ‘to beat the traffic…’ Robbie sang the one song he has to sing, swing concert or not. I will never tire of trying to sing along to Angels. I stress the word try. I don't think I have ever actually sung a note in tune in my life...and certainly never managed a decent rendition of Robbie's biggest hit. The night rounded off with new song and future live set staple, Sensational. With that the house lights came on and as the ticker tape somehow managed to find its way in to every crevice we were off. Back home in 40 minutes was pretty impressive to...I really love living in London.
There is something almost Ken Doddish about Robbie. He is a born entertainer and the swing style suits him down to the ground. You can see he is in his element and loving every minute. He may not be the young pop star of days gone by but you get the feeling that he has a long career ahead of him. Such is his charisma and popularity that he will probably be on stage performing to the masses for years to come.
* Happy 4th wedding anniversary Mrs Rock.
** I love the phrase 'Arrogant Glory'…Thank you Clare D, I told you I would nick it.
Ticket Price: £80