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Live Review: Robbie Williams w/ The Bamboos @ Brisbane Entertainment Centre – 20.02.2018

We arrived at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre to the anticipation and excitement of queuing crowds all waiting for Mr Robbie Williams and his ‘Heavy Entertainment’ show. As soon as the gates opened people flooded in from every direction, the atmosphere was just manic.

The first band on the bill was Melbourne jazz and soul group, The Bamboos. They are about to embark on a solo tour for their new album titled ‘Night Time People’ due out in June, taking it for a test drive in front of crowds, on tour with Robbie Williams.

The first few opening songs didn’t seem to reel the crowd in and sounded too similar to each other but it wasn’t long until they found a way to change that. Starting with new single, Lit Up—a punchy, upbeat number and had the crowd’s attention.

The song The Truth, off their 2013 album ‘Fever in the Road’, was another good tune displaying the raw attitude in the lyrics with a catchy chorus to sing along to. Thoughts of Adele come to mind when hearing some of their songs. The lead singer’s, Kylie Auldist, vocal range and tone was very impressive but seemed to be over powered by her band.

The engagement with the crowd just wasn’t there in the end but these guys have potential with a great sound and impressive vocals. If they persevere and get that balance right, they will go a long way.

Finally the moment had arrived. The stage was set, the crowd were pumped and as the lights went down we were all waiting in anticipation for the man himself to appear.

In keeping with the whole theme of the show centred on a boxing theme, we were greeted by a ‘Welcome to the Heavy Entertainment Show’ over the loud speakers like we had just stepped into a boxing arena. Please be up standing for the national anthem of Robbie, a parody of Land of Hope and Glory remodelled into an ode to the man himself called God Bless Our Robbie, with lyrics like, “God Bless our Robbie, he can swing both ways, he is totally global, except in the U S of A.” A dig at his lack of notoriety in America and a display of the typical Robbie Williams wit and a preview of what was to come during the show.

The lyrics appeared on the big screen for the crowd to sing along in full voice, with bouts of laughter when lyrics like, ‘God bless our Robbie, he is so well hung,” were displayed on screen.

The show opened with Robbie walking on stage in a boxing robe slowly emerging from as he began to sing The Heavy Entertainment Show song. Showing off his performing skills as he moved amongst his stunning dancers like the thorn between the roses flanked by scantily clad dancers dressed in two-piece bathers complete with glittering jackets, boxing gloves, head gear and lace up knee high boots. This was definitely a Robbie Williams show there was no mistaking that!

He didn’t seem to sing any songs off the new album, instead treating the crowd to a list of his back catalogue of hits through the years. From old favourites like Let Me Entertain You, to his 1997 album ‘Life Thru a Lens’, he maintained momentum prompting the crowd into singing the chorus along with him and wanting to see everyone’s hands in the air clapping along to the rhythm. Songs like Monsoon saw everyone’s hands swaying from side-to-side like a continuous wave. He had the crowds’ attention from start-to-finish.

Throwing in his take on an old Elvis Presley classic, Viva Las Vegas, changing the words to, Viva Bris Vegas, playing up to the Brisbane crowd, who were rightly impressed!

As the night took an emotional turn, he payed tribute to one of his favourite musicians, Mr George Michael and talked affectionately about how he will forever be remembered—referring to him as his hero and idol. He tells the crowd about his chance encounter with him at the first MTV music awards.

He then breaks out into the song Freedom, as a large photo of George Michael is projected onto the big screen. He sings this with such passion and emotion and this is felt by the crowd. He has the full respect and attention from them as they sing along with him. He finishes the song by looking up saying, ‘This is for you George!”

Robbie maintains his engagement with the crowd throughout with some friendly banter here-and-there and storytelling. He tells the funniest story of his children and how much they have become just like him, before transitioning into the song Love Of My Life, which he wrote about his children.

He talks of a proud parent moment as he says, “I know I have done my job when the kids come up to me and say, ‘Daddy I love my life, thank you.’” He then ascends above the crowd sitting in a giant blow up boxing glove, as he sings and waves acknowledging his audience making sure no one misses out. The crowd look up and watch in awe like an angel is hovering above them.

Taking the audience back to the days he was in a boy band called Take That, he does a rendition of the song Never Forget, off the back of Come Undone, which sorted out the current Robbie Williams fans from the fans from all the way back in the Take That days.

Robbie Williams is a brilliant showman and his performance proved this on so many levels, always confidently displaying his strong vocals, captivating the crowd with his raw attitude and vulgar language a trademark of his. He whips the crowd into fits of laughter with his wit and charisma, especially a favourite with the ladies when choosing someone to sing with on stage during the song Something Stupid as he woes his chosen female in typical gentlemanly like Robbie style.

A favourite moment in the set was when he introduced his dad to the stage as they sing a Neil Diamond number, Sweet Caroline. Sitting on a couch on stage demonstrating the strong bond they have between them, his dad shows the crowd that the talent runs in the Williams family. A  proud moment for both of them and a treat for the crowd.

Robbie breaks into heavier numbers such as Rock DJ from back in 2000. He’s now in his element with the crowd as he has them all erupt into a frenzy singing and dancing, up on their feet, they are under his command as he instructs the crowd with a “Everybody scream!” The raw of the crowd reverberates around the arena.

“Bless you Brisbane and bless you Australia, I really feel I can fucking breath and be myself down here,” Williams said as he shares his love and gratitude for Australia.

“You’re amazing people and an amazing audience and I love coming to see you, also you’re probably the only country in the world that embraced this next song and made it a hit, it’s only been a hit here,” he said as he commences into the song Better Man.

A Robbie Williams concert would never be complete without the huge crowd favourite Angels, a song he recently said he would never sing live again as it was too emotional for him. Well he didn’t disappoint opening with an angelic, orchestral introduction and a back drop resembling what appeared to look like stars in a night sky.

As Robbie began to sing showcasing his amazing voice and vocal range to the crowd he pushed through the song with a little help from the crowd proving he’s still got it after all these years. As the chorus approached it was like being at a football match, as the voices of the crowd echoed through the arena, such raw emotion was felt and shone through in this performance.

To our surprise the second last song of the night was the song and a cover of Frank Sinatra’s My Way with the crowd under his spell as he prompts them all to sing the chorus back to him they sing back in full voice, just like he was conducting his very own choir I did it my way, holding every note perfectly. Robbie was thoroughly impressed. I think the crowd equally impressed again a testament to just how amazing this man can be as a performer whether it be his own songs or someone else’s he pulls it off brilliantly.

All-in-all, it a brilliant performance by an absolutely amazing artist. He engages with and captivates his audience like no one else can.

Written by Debra Sherwood