Updated: Thursday, 2nd April 2020 @ 8:03pm

Gig review: Robbie Williams @ Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Gig review: Robbie Williams @ Etihad Stadium, Manchester

By Glen Keogh

“Do you want to be f**king entertained!? Well I’m your man!”

Only Robbie Williams would set himself such a tough agenda for a two hour show, but at the grand old age of 39, he can still more than keep to his word.

You know what to expect with a Robbie show – he’s not a man of modesty, he’s not a man of depth.

Robbie is a man who has made it his mission to stay at the top of the pop game for the last 15 years and he’s succeeded where many others have failed.

There have been a few bumps and scrapes on the way (Rudebox, anyone?) [probably his best album Ed], but back on form Robbie is still one of the only men in show business who can credibly bounce around a stage in a black glittery tail-coat swinging a cane, with giant metal casts of his head following him around.

Oh, and a 100ft gold cast of Robbie’s face, eyes closed, created the stage’s backdrop, from which he was lowered down amid flames to start the show.

If that’s not an attention-grabbing introduction, then I don’t know what is.

Robbie has always done things his way, with his trademark chinny grin, cheeky comments and tendency to let the crowds sing more than him – and that’s what everyone at the Etihad wanted to see.

The tattooed titan of pop’s expletive-ridden crowd addresses prompted worried looks to small ears in the stands, but it’s just another indication that Robbie knows he can do what he wants, and still be loved.

Let Me Entertain You got the crowd warmed up as he strutted across platforms cutting through the audience in scenes of adoration which harked back to Knebworth and the height of his popularity.  

Olly Murs, self-indulgently proclaimed as ‘my successor’ by Rob joined him for Kids, in a strange warped love duet which still managed to reek of masculinity despite the fact two grown men were grinding on each other in front of thousands.

The master’s testosterone-fuelled fist pumps in the chorus almost blew the braces off his twinkly-eyed apprentice.

The sing-alongs didn’t stop and neither did the pace of the show, with Robbie a seemingly inexhaustible ball of energy, bounding from one side of his mammoth stage to the other to keep all eyes firmly on him.

What’s more, his voice sounded as good as ever.

Come Undone and an acoustic rendition of Millennium were almost goosebump-inducing – songs that seem like they have been around forever still managed to sound fresh.

His most recent incarnation as a purveyor of bubble-gum pop sticks in the throat for some, as it’s not Robbie as we know him.

It’s the Robbie the X-Factor and One Direction have nudged him to become, as he struggles to remain popular with the influx of new kids on the block.

But with some crafty song writing and his ear for a melody, he’s always had a knack of reinventing himself – leading to the phenomenal commercial success and Etihad roar which met recent single Candy.

A closing three song encore as darkness replaced glorious evening sunshine saw a mesmerising light show as the party seemed to get more riotous.

“If you’re grieving, if you’re missing a loved one, or even if you’re just happy,” cried Rob, before set closer Angels, “this one is for you.”

Fireworks shot into the Manchester night sky as the stadium sang in unity, orchestrated by Robbie, now donning a red blazer.

The evergreen star had the crowd at his bidding, and boy, did he put on a show.

Robbie Williams is unashamedly still the man to turn to if you want to be entertained.

Picture courtesy of @GeorginaJade, with thanks. 

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