Review: Robbie Williams at Perth Arena, 7 March 2018
He was cheeky, crass, crude and all the things we’ve come to expect of him – but was he entertaining?
Robbie Williams stepped onstage at a sold-out Perth Arena on Wednesday night with the bravado of a cocky young lad rolling up to his local pub with something to prove.
It was the final night of the Australian leg of his Heavy Entertainment Show tour, and Williams’ performance certainly packed a punch.
Before the boy from Stoke-on-Trent even reached the stage, the crowd was urged to rise to its feet for ‘The National Anthem of Robbie’.
We’ll spare you the details, but the ‘anthem’ – sung to the tune of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ – included profound lyrics like “God bless our Robbie, for he is so well hung.”
Appearing in a hooded boxer’s warm-up robe, Williams was flanked by six scantily clad female dancers wearing boxing gloves.
The 44-year-old opened with ‘The Heavy Entertainment Show’ and ‘Let Me Entertain You’, and what followed was a couple of hours of sustained arm-waving, hand-clapping and hip-thrusting as Williams belted out his biggest hits.
There were moments of gold, such as ‘Kids’ – Williams’ 2000 duet with Kylie Minogue – the perfect vehicle for Williams’ impressive vocal range. He moved in and out of falsetto with perfect agility while his backing vocalist went to town on Minogue’s part, nearly outdoing the pop princess herself.
He was cheeky, crass, crude and all the things we’ve come to expect of him – but was he entertaining? Absolutely.
‘Feel’, from 2002’s Escapology, is good old-fashioned ear candy which was just as sweet live.
‘Sweet Caroline’ saw a kilt-clad Williams duet with his dad Pete Conway, who appeared onstage wearing a matching kilt. The resulting crowd singalong was so loud that if you closed your eyes you’d think you were sitting in an English football stadium.
Williams, who first rose to fame in clean-cut boy band Take That, is hanging fiercely onto the bad boy brand he’s built over his 20-year solo career (if it ain’t broke, why fix it?).
But it has to be said: watching a middle-aged, married man with children of his own, flashing his undies and willing female audience members to show him their breasts is just, well, odd. We shudder to think how it’ll translate when he’s 70.
Williams certainly has the voice and the charisma for a life-long career, however, and the real highlights of this show were in the more subdued moments where the shtick took a back seat and allowed his voice to shine.
A lengthy encore included much-loved hits ‘Better Man’, ‘Angels’ and a cover of Men At Work’s ‘Land Down Under’ – a nice local touch.
Signing off with Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’, Williams reminded us he has a voice to rival some of the greatest crooners of our time.
It was a night of wall-to-wall gimmicks, backed up – fortunately – by wall-to-wall hits. Hits that people continued to sing as they spilled out the arena doors.
Would it still be a Robbie Williams show without the gags?
Only a true fan can answer that.