REVIEW: Robbie Williams, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

Robbie Williams in concert.
Robbie Williams in concert.
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SAY what you like about Robbie Williams - and a few have directed plenty of unkind words his way over the years - but the man can’t half put on a show.

Dressed up to the nines in dicky bow and tails and playing against a backdrop of sweeping staircases and velvet curtains, the one-time Take That bad boy has gone all Rat Pack with a touch of the Busby Berkeleys.

Swing is the order of the day, with Mr Williams taking his vociforous fans through a back catalogue of his favourite tracks from the golden age of this genre.

But rather than Frank Sinatra cool, Robbie dishes out a more quirky Sammy Davis Junior, with just a hint of Norman Wisdom.

At one point Williams, sporting a inflated ‘fat suit’ tuxedo, was hoisted high in the sky with the harness digging in where you really don’t want it to dig. His banter with the crowd, while swinging from the rafters, was priceless. It’s fair to say that Robbie Williams, despite the ego, does not take himself too seriously.

The first half of the show was full on old-style entertainment with his troupe of backing dancers high-kicking their way through songs that included Putting on the Ritz, Ain’t That a Kick in the Head, I Wanna Be Like You (with Robbie in a monkey mask!) and the stand out Mr Bojangles.

Half way through proceedings, one lucky punter was even dragged up on stage for a showbiz wedding, conducted by Robbie’s long-time writing partner Guy Chambers. For once, the star was upstaged when the surprise bride helped herself to an impromptu grope of the singer.

The second half got the crowd involved with singalongs galore. A medley of classics like Hit the Road Jack, Reet Petite and Shout got the audience up on their feet before Robbie really hit the heights with his own tunes given the swing treatment.

A finale which included My Way, the ultimate audience singalong Angels, followed by Sensational ensured the evening ended on a glorious high. Robbie Williams ... what an entertainer!

Richard Ord