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Robbie Williams evaluation, BST Hyde Park: Bonkers, self-aggrandising and charmingtheinsiderinsight

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You don’t come to a Robbie Williams gig for understatement. The singer kicks off his Hyde Park gig with a video sequence, wherein he sits studying a newspaper bearing a headline that asks: “Is Robbie Williams the best residing entertainer?” He then strides across the backstage space, carrying a tiny cardboard minimize out of Noel Gallagher and flanked (for causes that can later turn into barely clearer) by Danny Dyer as his de facto bodyguard, earlier than rising onto the stage like a jack within the field to the opening chords of “Let Me Entertain You”.

It’s equal elements bonkers, self-aggrandising and charming, very similar to Williams himself. The 50-year-old is dressed all in white (plus a large chain necklace embellished with the phrases “f**ok off” – bear in mind what I mentioned about understatement?) and taking us again via his 30-plus years within the music business. “Thank f**ok we received,” he says of the identical night time’s match between England and Switzerland, which a big proportion of the gang had been watching on telephones beforehand. Most of his finest songs have one thing of the terrace chant about them, with their huge choruses and simple rhymes: in “Sturdy”, the lyrics are projected onto the display screen, not that anybody right here wants them.

Since he left Take That  in 1995 – or, as he tells the story tonight, since Jason Orange politely instructed him he’d been kicked out after he went on a large Glastonbury bender – Robbie’s music has labored its manner into the material of our on a regular basis lives. He’s had virtually as many eras as Taylor Swift. The submit boyband riot. The early Noughties imperial part, which culminated in him being suspended in mid-air in entrance of tons of of 1000’s of individuals at his Knebworth mega-gig. The straightforward-listening Huge Band album. The ill-fated experiments in electro-rap. His present standing as a nationwide treasure slash wild card.

Virtually all of those durations get a nod right here (though the closest he will get to acknowledging “Rudebox” is when he later dons a shiny tracksuit high). His again catalogue mixes laddy, “let’s ‘ave it” bravado with bracing vulnerability, and it’s a mix that makes him simple to root for. Sure, he may prance across the stage – half courtroom jester, half posturing king – through the bombast of “Supreme” and the Bond theme shimmer of “Millennium”. However the extra self-reflective, even self-loathing Williams isn’t far off in songs just like the nonetheless lacerating “Come Undone”, his reckoning with dependancy and fame.

Twenty years or so on from writing that music, Williams is, he reminds us, in a significantly better place: he’s sober, married and a dad to 4 younger kids, who’re watching him from one of many VIP platforms (he dedicates “Love My Life”, an enormous foolish grin of a music, to them). He’s “the happiest [he’s] ever been” – and which means he can look again at a few of these trickier previous moments and have enjoyable with them.

Robbie Williams performs on stage at BST Hyde Park
Robbie Williams performs on stage at BST Hyde Park (Dave Hogan)

That misplaced weekend at Glastonbury, for instance, turns into an excuse for a whistle-stop tour via the Nineties. After a hovering cowl of “Don’t Look Again in Anger” that places each Gallagher brothers to disgrace, he brings out Supergrass singer Gaz Coombes to whizz via “Alright”. Then, like a fever dream come to life, Danny Dyer marches onto the stage with the Coldstream Guards infantry, to duet on Blur’s “Parklife” (Dyer, naturally, is tasked with tackling the Phil Daniels spoken-word bits). In between songs, Williams tells meandering tales like a bloke you may meet within the smoking space, and singles out viewers members to have interaction in unfastened cannon banter.

After the swaggering double whammy of “Children” and “Rock DJ”, Williams shifts into ballad mode for the encore, with “No Regrets” and “She’s the One”. They really feel like a warm-up for the inevitable, although. “Angels”, now virtually a secular hymn, prompts telephones to gentle up, arms to go round shoulders and mascara to turn into blotchy. Is Robbie Williams the best residing entertainer? At this level certainly we will admit that he needs to be up there.

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