Published on theMusic.com.au, Oct 2015
A week earlier, Perth Arena was packed out with Kiss fans, and among the chaos were posters promoting Robbie Williams’ upcoming gigs at the venue, which coincidently featured the English singer in face paint paying tribute to the rock legends. Fast forward a week and the scene is a little different.
“Hello,” read blood-red text on a black video screen behind the stage, mimicking a scene from a horror film. The text was erased and more appeared. “Is anybody there? I want to contact the living.”
A series of instructions were then delivered, from making punters scream to “shake their ass” before horror turned to a James Bond-esque display and a band flooded the stage to a silhouette of Williams dancing behind them.
In a sort of mission statement intro, Let Me Entertain You set a strong precedent for the rest of the show.
The Englishman was hellbent on delivering that promise by any means necessary, yelling relentlessly to the point where anyone else would lose his or her voice. “Allow me to reintroduce myself – I’m Robbie Fucking Williams!”
His air guitar turned into the real deal for Lazy Days, but its title was no reflection of the effort put in, a testament reinforced by doing push-ups while a guitarist sat on his back.
A comprehensive 30-second history lesson on his life was spat out to those under 30, making note he was somewhat famous before sharing a kiss with a front-row punter. “I told you I was fucking famous here,” he said with a smug grin after the encounter.
Pitting the crowd against one another for the chorus of U2’s Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, he had everyone eating out of the palm of his hand.
With 10 studio albums and countless singles, it’s easy to forget how many of his tunes you know, especially with such a diverse collection of songs compiling his catalogue, from the upbeat clap along number Monsoon to the calm and cool Me And My Monkey.
The diversity continued with stripped-back performances of The Road To Mandalay and a slightly disjointed version ofTake That‘s Want You Back, featuring opening act Lawson as his acoustic backing band.
Pulling things back even more to just a few acoustics, new tune Bad Motherfucker detailing his past battles with drugs was dedicated his son, Charlie. “Your cousin is a cunt,” he belted out, which was one of many obscenities in the chorus, later acknowledging it probably won’t be a hit.
After somewhat slamming his father, Peter, in the song too – along with the rest of his family – Williams invited his dad on stage for a duet of Better Man.
A quick break to change into a kilt led into a mash of Queen’s We Will Rock You and Joan Jett’s I Love Rock’n’Roll before changing the feel of the room again. Williams tried his luck at Lorde’s Royals, which went surprisingly well, rounding things out with Kids, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, She’s The One, Angels and Frank Sinatra’s My Way.
You don’t have to think too hard about whether or not you enjoyed a performance when two hours feels like it’s over in 30 minutes, and with that, Williams delivered exactly what he promised in his mission statement. Pop meets rock perfectly at a Robbie Williams show.