Review: Robbie Williams – the Heavy Entertainment Tour
Robbie Williams – the Heavy Entertainment Tour, Spark Arena, Auckland
Robbie Williams must be feeling his age. Not that this was in any way evident with the usual boundless energy he brought to his show at Auckland’s Spark Arena on Wednesday night.
Bounding with his usual manic verve onto the stage clad in boxing and sporting black and red colours, he was ready to take the stage. The audience – already in a good humoured state of excitement after kareokeing along to the “Robbie Williams National Anthem" (a typical mix of bombast and self deprecatory nonsense) – were up and dancing to Welcome to the Heavy Entertainment tour.
Having turned forty four the previous day – old Rob was in a nostalgic mood – mostly, he would have us believe, for his former waistline as he bantered with the crowd regaling us with such tales of how in a previous life he had worked day and night and with all his heart and soul with the best colleagues he could ever hope to have – then left McDonald’s to join Take That etc, standard Robbie stuff.
This led on to his recounting of the first time he saw his hero and “God” George Michael to whom he paid a spirited tribute with “Freedom” – his first solo effort after leaving Take That.
Having paid sporadic attention to Robbie’s career in recent years, I was a bit apprehensive that I would be literally at a loss for words with some of his more recent numbers, (although the atmosphere would have carried me along anyway)but – and here’s the thing – whether in acknowledgement of his recent birthday or deference to the rather worrying number of distinctly middle aged couples cramming the arena along with the younger generation, he pretty much stuck to his 90s repertoire giving us all the comfort of being able to sing along to Better Man, Feel, Millenium and of course, Rock DJ. All with trademark mega energy backed up by fabulous moves from the (of course) all girl dance troupe.
Besides sticking close to the fond and familiar, The Robster demanded all over forties owned up to their age, referenced parenthood in the run up to Love My Life, (positively glowing with pride here) and further tested the demographic by hollering out a series of lines from songs popular decades ago- without exception answered with accurate refrain from the audience
A nod to A-HA was rather superbly echoed by some eighties jiggery pokery graphics on the big screen – all splendid stuff.
But some things don’t change and it was of course, the youngsters who got the personal touch – hardly avoidable with women holding up signs promising :”Boobs for Angels” – and delivering -or pleas to be “Kylie” on jump on board.
A poignant moment came when Rob invited 19-yer old Rebecca on stage to join him in the rendition of “Something Stupid”. Looking overwhelmed the teenager tearfully confided something to the singer who immediately enveloped her in a warm hug, then continued with the song tenderly which he then dedicated to the memory of Rebecca’s Mum, Tiffany.
(His own Dad was of course also trundled on as the pair shared a cheerful rendition of Sweet Caroline - aah)
Shortly before the concert began we had been exhorted by an extremely enthusiastic fan (official?) to take one of the computer flyers she was distributing - these wishing Rob a happy birthday - which we were all to hold up at a given signal. This fell rather flat, mostly owing to the sneaky bunch who couldn’t resist holding theirs aloft early in the hope of catching the big guy’s eye. A more successful moment of spontanaity came towards the end when some wag turned the tables on Rob (who loves to subtly take the piss out of people’s parochialism and patriotism) by tossing him an Australian flag which he proudly donned before being booed into shamefaced realisation.
All in all, it was what we have all come to expect from the master of light entertainment – a somewhat older and wiser but not a great deal more mature Robbie – at least as far as his humour goes. A night of spectacle without any over the top stunts (he did his back in with the upside down trick on Escapology) great nostalgia and above all the energy he brings to any venue – despite all the dark hints and allegations that the life of a Rock Star is a torment to him and literally makes him ill – her certainly seemed to defy any hint of doing anything but having the time of life doing what he was born to do . anywhere anytime – Well almost – as a line from “Robbie’s Anthem” attests
To the Tune of Land of Hope and Glory
God Bless our Robbie, He is king of song He can swing like a bastard and can rock all night long.
he went to rehab, Drugs and drink took him low, but would
still make Rudebox and give rap a go. But when all is
considered, He still rules the
God bless our Robbie he can swing both ways, He is totally global except in US of A.
One Day he will be knighted and His work will be done He’ll stand proud and fearless His face forever young. God bless our Robbie He is so well hung.
Next stop, the Forsyth Barr Stadium on Dunedin on Saturday before taking the whole shebang to Australia. (at least he will recognise the flag) Thanks for a great night Robbie, see you next time