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Robbie Williams Review: Bonkers, Self-Aggrandising, and Charming at BST Hyde Park

Robbie Williams Review: Bonkers, Self-Aggrandising, and Charming at BST Hyde Park You don’t attend a Robbie Williams concert for subtlety. The singer begins his Hyde Park performance with a video where he reads a newspaper headline asking: “Is Robbie Williams the greatest living entertainer?”. He then parades backstage, holding a tiny cardboard cutout of Noel Gallagher, accompanied by Danny Dyer as his de facto bodyguard, before bursting onto the stage to the iconic chords of “Let Me Entertain You”.

The performance is as eccentric, self-aggrandizing, and charming as Williams himself. At 50, he’s dressed entirely in white, adorned with a massive chain necklace emblazoned with the words “f**k off”, demonstrating his characteristic flair. Reflecting on his over 30 years in the music industry, he remarks on England’s victory over Switzerland on the same night—a match many attendees had been watching on their phones. Williams’ songs often resemble terrace chants, with big choruses and simple rhymes; during “Strong”, lyrics flash on the screen, although nobody seems to need them.

Since leaving Take That in 1995, or as Williams narrates, since Jason Orange politely kicked him out after a wild Glastonbury weekend, his music has become interwoven with our daily lives. He’s had almost as many phases as Taylor Swift. From his post boyband rebellion and the early 2000s imperial phase—culminating at his Knebworth mega-gig, suspended in mid-air in front of thousands—to his easy-listening Big Band album, his unsuccessful electro-rap experiments, and his current status as a beloved national treasure.

This performance nods to nearly all of these eras (though the closest he gets to acknowledging “Rudebox” is donning a sparkly tracksuit top). Williams’ back catalogue is a mix of confident bravado and raw vulnerability, making him relatable. He prances around the stage like a court jester or a posturing king during bombastic tracks like “Supreme” and the Bond-theme-esque “Millennium”. Yet, the more self-reflective, even self-loathing Williams emerges in “Come Undone”, a stark reflection on addiction and fame.

Two decades after writing “Come Undone”, Williams highlights that he’s now in a much better place: sober, married, and a father of four. His children, watching from a VIP platform, are the dedication for “Love My Life”, a cheerful, feel-good tune. This happier phase allows him to reflect on past struggles humorously.

The infamous Glastonbury weekend becomes a pretext for a whirlwind tour through the Nineties. A cover of “Don’t Look Back in Anger” shines, outperforming the Gallagher brothers. Next, Supergrass’ Gaz Coombes joins Williams for a spirited rendition of “Alright”. Then, in a surreal twist, Danny Dyer takes the stage with the Coldstream Guards infantry to duet on Blur’s “Parklife”, handling the Phil Daniels spoken-word parts.

Williams intersperses his set with meandering stories, engaging fellow concertgoers with the familiarity of someone chatting in a smoking area, adding his signature brand of loose cannon banter. Following the upbeat “Kids” and “Rock DJ”, he shifts to ballads in the encore with “No Regrets” and “She’s the One”, building towards the inevitable performance of “Angels”. The song, now nearly a secular hymn, transforms the park into a sea of glowing phones, hugging fans, and streaked mascara.

So, is Robbie Williams the greatest living entertainer? It’s debatable, but by now, surely, he ranks among the best.

Source: Daily Mirror