REVIEW : ROBBIE WILLIAMS – MT DUNEED ESTATE. Sat 25 Nov. Suported by Gaz Combes
Review by Bryget Chrisfield. Photos by Jason Rosewarne
With the release of last year’s XXV compilation album – which marked 25 years since his debut solo record, 1997’s Life Thru A Lens, came out – Robbie Williams became the solo artist with the most chart-topping albums in the UK, surpassing Elvis. And now it’s finally Australia’s turn to lap up Robbie’s corresponding ‘25 Years Of Hits’ tour.
“Allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Robbie fucking WiIliams!” Can you think of a better opener than Let Me Entertain You, resplendent with jubilant brass fanfare, full band and dynamic backing dancers cutting sick on stage? This self-fulfilling prophecy of a song follows Hey Wow Yeah Yeah tonight – yeah, we’d probably swap the order of those tracks to maximise wow factor, to be honest. “Hands in the air!” Robbie demands and exactly no one is safe, it seems: “I see you right over there by those toilets!”
A few scattered covers become raucous sing/dance-along ops throughout, with Land Of 1000 Dances allowing Robbie to demonstrate his sick dance moves while rallying various sections of the crowd to participate in spontaneous “Naaaaa-na-na-na-naaaaaa!” sing-offs. Spent from all the dancing, he then commences Better Man a cappella: “Send someone to love me/ I need to rest in arms/ Keep me safe from harm/ In pouring rain…” – very appropriate given this evening’s soggy weather conditions. Robbie then pauses to allow the Mt Duneed massive to take over on vocals and we’re in fine voice, alright.
Robbie’s ability to make every single show unique and memorable is unrivalled. It’s almost as if he knows his super-fans typically purchase tickets to multiple shows or something. His banter is loosely scripted, sure: “In the ‘90s I tried to love you all individually…” But he also checks in with a handful of lucky punters throughout to mix it up a bit. “I remember you. Is that your husband?” he teases at one point, before later reassuring old mate: “I’ve never met your wife before.”
Another LOL-worthy moment ensues when Robbie instructs a camera operator to zoom in on punters in the shit seats. “Maybe it’s what they wanted?” he jests, before singling out a dude who looks like “an extra from Game Of Thrones” and organising for him “and his three goblins” to be relocated down front.
Robbie also recruits a “hype man” in crowd member Jason for the show’s duration. He then claims his “future happiness” depends on Jason knowing the words to Strong. There’s nowhere to hide as an extreme close-up of Jason’s face graces the giant screens and his attempt at lip syncing fails miserably. A few songs later, Robbie cuts Take That’s Could It Be Magic – did you know Barry Manilow composed this catchy l’il number? – short. “Stop, stop, stop! I can’t be arsed. I was just thinking, ‘Jason doesn’t even know the words to Strong, he’s not gonna fuckin’ know this one!’”
Robbie acknowledges he has two types of songs. Song number one: “I’m Robbie Williams and I’m fucking amazing.” Song number two: “I’m Robbie Williams and I’m lost and I’m depressed and I’m isolated and I have anxiety.” An example of the latter, Come Undone, follows.
After pointing out Shane Warne joined the Australian cricket team back in 1992 – around the time Robbie’s boy band Take That were coming up on the scene – he leads a “War-nie!” chant to commemorate the lost legend. While we watch one of Take That’s early film clips, for Do What You Like, on the screens, Robbie provides a hilarious running commentary until the video is paused on a closeup of his naked butt. Robbie’s always been a cheeky chappy, but this is ridiculous!
Of partying with Oasis backstage at Glastonbury 1995, Robbie acknowledges, “Off I went with a boot full of champagne and a pocket full of cocaine.” His rendition of Don’t Look Back In Anger speaks volumes. We’re then told that Take That’s Jason Orange pulled Robbie for a chat following his Glasto bender and unceremoniously announced, “We need you to leave the band today.”
The main-set closing triumvirate of Feel, Kids and Rock DJ aptly celebrates Robbie at the peak of his solo superpowers, the ultimate showman.
Returning to the stage for the encore sporting a sparkling black floor-length cloak, Robbie now resembles a disco preacher. His cover of John Farnham’s You’re The Voice is as rousing as anticipated. And Robbie’s signature hit Angels is the spiritual, arms ‘round your mates while remembering lost loved ones singalong moment we all hoped for.