Calling himself the ‘King of Song’, you’d be hard pressed to think him wrong after Robbie Williams’ Heavy Entertainment Show Tuesday night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
Warming up the crowd first, Australian soul heavyweights The Bamboos delivered a winning round of musicianship, although an act with a bigger performance presence may have worked better to build anticipation for the main show.
After a forty minute changeover, Williams came out swinging, packing a serious punch with hit after number one hit from a two-decade catalogue of pop music. The opening song and album’s title track, ‘The Heavy Entertainment Show’ gave a blow-by-blow account of what to expect and the man did not disappoint, “I’m Robbie fucking Williams. This is my cock,” he said, lifting up his kilt to show tiger-faced undies, “And your arse is mine for the night.”
Oozing equal parts charisma and cockiness (hey, why wouldn’t he with 77 million albums sold, 14 #1 singles and playing in packed international arenas twenty years in), Williams delivered two hours of entertainment power with a visual and aural feast of staging, lighting, three incredible back-up vocalists, a kick-arse eight-piece band, a bevy of sexily clad female dancers (insert eye roll) and funny banter to boot.
Williams wasn’t exaggerating when he sang it would be “Eminem meets Manilow.” With hits spanning pop, rock, rap and acoustic ballads, is there anything this artist can’t do? Throw in a selection of swing covers (his Carson Parks song “Somethin’ Stupid” with actress Nicole Kidman became his most successful single to date) and you have one hell of an eclectic show.
A bit confusing at times for the uninitiated, the set was a mash-up of his original hits like ‘Let Me Entertain You’, ‘Millenium’, ‘Feel’ and ‘Rock DJ’ contrasted with an a cappella medley of Bon Jovi, Amy Winehouse, MC Hammer and the Bee Gees and covers including ‘Viva Las Vegas’ (the reference to Bris Vegas was a crowd pleaser), ‘Minnie the Moocher’ and George Michael’s ‘Freedom 90’.
He’s unapologetic about that though, always has been. And that’s what his dedicated fans love about him. Either which way, it worked. You couldn’t deny by the end of the night that you were highly entertained from start to finish and that ultimately is his goal.
Many memorable moments were created too with Williams’ dad, Pete Conway joining him to sing Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’, audience interaction and personal anecdotes with the song written for his two children Teddy and Charlie, ‘Love My Life’ leaving us uplifted and inspired.
Robbie Williams is up there with the Greats of pop and he’s not afraid to let us know that he knows it, starting the show with the ‘Robbie Williams National Anthem’, which at first seems highly bombastic but had you smiling and laughing the whole way through and closing the show with the audience singing back the second line of half a dozen of his own songs, a final reminder that our arses were his for the night.
Robbie Williams hits up Yarra Valley on Thursday for A Day On The Green, followed by Melbourne (24 & 25 February), Sydney (28 February 28, 1 March), Geelong (3 March) and Perth (7 March).
IMAGES (c) JD Punisher Photography