Robbie Williams: Sings the New Year in, with clean hands

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Robbie Williams: Sings the New Year in, with clean hands

January 02, 2017 - 18:44
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The best of New Year's Eve telly was without doubt,  Robbie Williams rocking away at Big Ben.

Robbie Williams grimaced and used hand gel after touching members of the crowd

By Andy Simon @AndySimon55

In hindsight; and to be fair, New Year's Eve telly did have some good bits of which I have already written two reviews about.

But the best of New Year's Eve telly was without doubt, Robbie Williams rocking away at Big Ben.

Yeah, he's good, extremely talented, devilishly good looking, got a fantastic voice, a smashing down to earth personality, he's rich, he's famous, he has the entire world at his feet, he's loved by millions, fancied by millions, envied by millions . . .

Need I go on?

He's everything I'm not. Although having said that; it's not strictly true. I have been told I bare a remarkable resemblance to Robbie, from a distance of about two miles and in a thick fog!

The resemblance apparently is quite striking.

And considering I also have a singing voice that often reminds my neighbours of a constipated duck, breaking wind in a coal mine, I don't think Mr Williams has any immediate career worries.

Anyway; back to the show.

The show itself, Robbie Williams, Rocks Big Ben, was more than just a New Year bash, as the opening lines of Robbie's first song (Heavy Entertainment Show) hinted, about all the celebrity deaths that have unfortunately occurred, during 2016, and wisely advising the audience both at the Central Hall Westminster, and at home, to "Enjoy me, while you can."

His talent for showmanship, was quickly put into play after just a few bars of Let Me Entertain You. He had the audience in the palm of his hand by the end of that song. And after introducing himself to the already knowledgeable crowd, and claiming and I quote, "Your arse is mine!", the audience showed no objection.

I absolutely loved how he dealt with the swearing restriction imposed on him by the Double Standards (ahem) BBC, prompting his audience to sing all the naughty bits he couldn't, in the next song, "Come Undone". Very clever.

But as the evening was already way passed the 9 O'Clock Watershed, it became apparent (at least to me) particularly after Robbie payed a touching and fitting tribute to his friend and recently departed recording artist, George Michael, performing his debut single, his cover of George’s classic pop song, Freedom, I realised that the BBC would now struggle in maintaining the profanity free broadcast, they were hoping for.

For as the song ended, Robbie blew a kiss up to the sky and paused for a moment, before muttering “f*** that”, under his breath. No doubt privately expressing some anger, that dear George, had gone way too soon, at the age of 53.

Nice one Robbie.

The show wasn't without its controversy though.

During his rendition of Auld Lang Syne, Robbie made multiple hand contact with many members of the audience. After which, he openly used an anti-bacterial gel., whilst wearing what appeared to be, a disgusted grimace on his face.

At this point I must confess to you (the reader) that as I was due to be up at 4:45am on New Year's Day, I watched this show via the BBC's iPlayer service. So I was not aware of the Twitter explosion that occurred as a consequence of Robbie's alleged controversial behaviour, concerning the aftermath of his "Hands-On" interactions, with his audience.

I dare say some have drawn their own conclusions. As for me; I thought it quite understandable, and also, rather amusing.

I have to say during the interval, the pyrotechnics in London, as Big Ben chimed in the New Year, was most impressive. No one it seems, objects to watching their hard earned contribution to the Government purse, literally, go up in smoke, every New Year's Eve.

And as Robbie continued his world class warbling during the second half, I couldn't help but be reminded of that brilliant album, "Swing When You're Winning.", as he sang that well known Sinatra classic, "New York New York".

As the show drew towards its close, I watched Robbie doing what he does so well. He's an Icon, a man with a Midas touch, who's performance at the Central Hall Westminster, will be long remembered. Although not as much as his performance at Knebworth, back in 2003.

I dare say even Robbie himself would admit, that Knebworth was a true highlight of his already well established and illustrious career.

In summing up; New Year's Eve telly turned out pretty good, considering that my hopes were clearly fading, as I scanned my way through the schedules earlier that evening.

And perhaps, we should all take Robbie's advice a little further? Not to just enjoy him while we still can, but to enjoy our lives, our relations, our friends, and each other, a little more . . .

while we still can.

Robbie Williams Rocks Big Ben, is still available on the BBC's iPlayer service. If you haven't watched it yet, you have (at the time of writing) 28 days to do so.

And may I just take this last opportunity, to wish you all,
a very happy New Year.

Thanks for reading.


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JillS's picture

By JillS

Anybody hoping that 2017 would be the year of political correctness may well have sighed despondently at the sight of half a dozen bunned androidy female dancers strutting on stage in their pants and thigh high boots, heralding the arrival of the New Year’s Eve concert with Robbie.

However, it set the tone for a un pc, self-indulgent but generally enjoyable show. The man himself arrived in a spangly golfing top, his usual mix of irony, cockiness and talent getting the crowd going immediately. In between the pouting and posing, when he stands and really sings, you remember that he is, after all, quite a good entertainer. He opened with another example of his spikey, conversational, sound bitey lyrics ‘Heavy Entertainment Show’; “I’m about to strip and you’re my pole”. Lordy, hope the Queen’s not watching. His opener was razzmatazzy but quite a dark and poignant number “All the best ones are dying off so quickly”. Ain’t they just.

But thankfully our Rob is still with us, easing us into the comfortable territory of “Let me entertain you” where Rob seemed to be repeatedly mimicking my mother on Skype “I can’t heaarrr you!”. I began to relax and feel a little bit less guilty for forsaking the carefully selected talent on Jools Holland for something a bit more ‘live’. (The absolution was complete when I flicked over and Jools was idly conversing with a strange dog puppet). There was a slightly bizarre moment when Rob leerily revealed his tiger pants mid song while singing “you’re not gonna end up like your mum and dad!” well I’m sure if his dad was here he wouldn’t get up to shenanigans like that, especially in front of those nice ladies.

Oh blimey he is here! Speak of the devil. After Rob’s cheeky let-the-crowd-do-the-sweary-bits rendition of ‘Come Undone’, the slightly weird ‘Party Like a Russian’- (put a doll inside a doll in case you were wondering) and an unprecendented rant against Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Williams Senior joined his son for a duet of ‘Better Man’. Rob helpfully shouted out “me!” and “you!” so that the slightly bemused Pete didn’t miss his cue. Learnt two things about Rob – he can play the guitar reasonably well and he has two pairs of glasses tattooed on his neck. Either it’s a tribute to the two Ronnies or Vision Express – I’ll let you decide. Not sure if the head-boppered up audience were really that interested in poor old Pete’s debut but have the feeling that if Rob dueted with his budgie they’d still be happy campers.

Then came a refreshingly simple performance of ‘Feel’ and a bit of awkward chit chat with Melvin before the firework extravaganza. Somehow I managed to miss ‘spray-gate’ but found the Fergusonesque open mouthed gum chewing through ‘Angels’ filled the cringe gap nicely.

Rob is noticeably more comfortable, slick (and sings better) with the big band stuff. ‘New York, New York’ was a real treat. Clearly he is as gutted about George Michael’s passing as many of us are, looking up to the heavens with disbelief at the end of his ‘Freedom’ tribute. The popular ‘Rock DJ’, ‘Millennium’ and ‘The Kids are alright’ followed with the superb backing singers giving us all hair and voice envy as they performed the Kylie bits, probably a bit better than Kylie to be honest.

In case any oldies were still getting him confused with lovely Gary Barlow, Rob morphed into Jimmy Carr for five minutes. I wonder if anyone else squirmed a tad at his stand-up comedy moment where he recalled his daughter using both the v-word and the f-word. ‘Love My Life’ was uplifting (if you ignored the nauseating shots of the adoring wife) and ‘Sensational’ was a naughty tongue-in-cheek mockery of his day job and his audience, which led nicely into the ‘My Way’ finale. Whether you like him or not, he doesn’t take himself too seriously, he puts on a good show and he sings like he means it and I hope that next year’s act, whoever it is, can match his energy and entertainment value….but if they don’t, there’s always Jools……