“I’m going to some great places where I’ve either not been before or not been for a while, and the response from fans has been tremendous.” Robbie Williams
Robert Peter Williams, better known as Robbie Williams, was in Abu Dhabi for one night and one night only. He sang, he danced, he strutted, he showed off, he pushed the boundaries, he sweated (a lot) but first and foremost he entertained. Williams is a showman through and through, a man born to perform and he owned the Du Arena stage with the excited crowd in the palm of his hand from the moment he appeared on stage until he sang the last word of the encore, a great concert which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Now I have seen Williams many times before but this Abu Dhabi concert was up there with the best I’ve seen of him either as part of Take That or as a solo artist, except maybe at his three-day Knebworth concerts in 2003 (biggest UK pop concert that caused the biggest traffic jam) which featured an extended swing section with William’s friend and actor Max Beasley on drums. Gearing ourselves up for a night of singing and dancing but still feeling rather dubious from the previous night’s activities, we kicked off proceedings with a delicious curry at Rangoli in the Yas Rotana Hotel and a few beverages, hair of the dog right?
The former bad boy of pop, Williams appeared sleeveless pretty much on schedule complete with bulging tattooed biceps, tight black trousers and devil horns, after teasing the crowd with an on-screen warm-up “I can’t hear you. Let me entertain you”, he came out all guns blazing. There’s no doubt that he’s a cheeky chappie and an all-round entertainer with an ego to match. He has overcome his many well publicised demons to come out the other side and give great performances, with this concert part of his ‘Let Me Entertain You’ tour (his eleventh concert tour to date) that started in Spain, has travelled through Europe and Asia with his band that includes guitarist and writing partner Guy Chambers and troop of female backing singers, will appear at summer festivals and then finish up in Australia.
Williams is now forty-one, a dedicated family man who showed his softer side making references to his children Theodora and Charlton, even singing songs he has written in their honour. Grabbing a guitar he duetted with Chambers on Go Gentle written for his daughter before breaking into the song for his son, Mother F**ker, which in true Williams style was both hilarious and a little controversial all at the same time, a performer who has courted controversy throughout his career. I loved it when part way through Better Man his dad Peter, a former publican/ singer joined him on stage for a duet.
Minnie The Moocher featured in the big band section along with a swing version of his hit Supreme, where even though he was by now sweating profusely he donned a tail coat and white gloves in a nod to the era and his lifelong love for Frank Sinatra, personally I was hoping to hear Mr Bojangles but that didn’t happen. With seven hit albums under his belt, he had plenty of big pop hits to choose from when compiling the set list and proceedings began with Let Me Entertain You, Rock DJ, Feel, Millennium, No Regrets, Come Undone, Candy (where a lucky audience member was plucked from the crowd and joined Williams on stage in a vertical double bed) and of course Angels, which featured as part of the encore. Along with all the William’s favourites covers of other artist’s songs popped along the way in the two-hour extravaganza such as Lorde’s Royals, George Michael’s Freedom, Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love as the intro to Kids and even Queen’s We Will Rock You and then Bohemian Rhapsody which was also part of the encore, where he wore a seventies style jumpsuit and crooned along to a backdrop/duet with the late Freddie Mercury.
There was costume changes aplenty with even a skirt at one point cheekily raised to tease the ladies, a silver space like jacket that would not of looked out-of-place on David Bowie in a previous decade, there were references to demons past but no reference to Take That, ego satisfying crowd sing-a-longs, grinding with backing singers, guitar strumming, a cappella snippet of She’s The One just to show his critics that he can sing but overall there was just such a great atmosphere and he entertained us as the tour promised, Robbie you Rocked and don’t let the haters tell you otherwise!
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved. Additional photo credits Flash Entertainment.