Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Robbie Williams hails Barlow on return to big stage

Robbie Williams

Robbie Williams sent a special message out to his former Take That bandmate Gary Barlow during his first full concert for three years.

The singer also shocked fans by backing cocky X Factor contestants the Grimes twins to win the show as he performed to a sell-out crowd in London, setting a world record in the process.

Williams took to the stage to open this year's BBC Electric Proms and paid tribute to Barlow, who is mourning the death of his father.

"About 14 months ago we all got together one night and I got a new best mate... Gary," he said. "I'm sending my love to you - I know it's been a tough week."

The star told the audience he got a Take That tattoo as a tribute to the boy band which launched his career.

He explained that he was inspired to have the artwork put on his arm after enjoying a get-together with Barlow, Howard Donald, Jason Orange and Mark Owen.

Williams added: "But when I showed it to them, they all said in unison: 'you d**k!"'

He opened the show at north London's trendy Roundhouse venue last night with new single Bodies.

Appearing emotional, he said: "You nearly made me cry then, but then I realised it's not The X Factor."

Williams, who appeared on the ITV1 show earlier this month, revealed he was a fan of twins John and Edward Grimes.

"Go for the twins," he told the crowd, who responded with deafening boos.

But he insisted: "John and Edward all the way."

Williams meanwhile dedicated new track Won't Do That to actress girlfriend Ayda Field.

The gig was watched by celebrities including radio DJ Fearne Cotton and singer Will Young.

Later the cheeky singer appeared to hold back tears as he revealed his hit Feel was his auntie's favourite song, saying: "I'm sure she's looking down now."

But he then deadpanned: "She's not dead - she's just condescending!"

Last night's performance set a world record for the most simultaneous cinematic screenings of a live concert.

The show was screened in more than 250 cinemas across 23 countries, meaning tens of thousands of the singer's fans across Europe watched the show as it happened.

Williams, who is at number two in the singles charts and was accompanied by a string section, horn section and a full band, is no stranger to setting records. He last did so in 2006 when his epic Close Encounters tour sold 1.6 million tickets in a day.

Guinness World Records editor-in-chief Craig Glenday said: "It's been a few years since we've seen Robbie in the record books so it's great to see him back on stage and breaking records."

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