Belfast Telegraph

Review: Robbie Williams still has the pull, if not the songs

By Michael Conaghan

The second decade of the 21st century has not been especially kind to those pop stars who came of age either side of the millennium.

But Robbie Williams is a figure tailor-made for the big event, so despite the inevitable career stutters there is always a Jubilee, an Olympics or hey, a World Cup to hang on the coat-tails of.

He still has a big star's pulling power, with a sell-out multi-hued crowd buzzing with anticipation at the Odyssey. You know the audience are up for it when the roadies get an unironic cheer.

He duly emerged from beneath the stage in penguin suit and regulation cheeky grin with opening pop stomper Shine My Shoes.

For all the pizzazz of the first part of the evening, there's no real sense of engagement with the classic American songbook that peppers the show, the dance routines are rather desperate and Robbie is more Freddy Starr than Fred Astaire.

An exception was the subtly Brechtian Everyone Hates A Fat Pop Star, which saw our hero hoisted and stuffed by his own petard or someone else's, and despite the comedy, hinted at the self-loathing beneath the glitz.

The Hollywood satire that was Swing Both Ways had genuine wit and invention, like 10cc at their most cinematic.

Arch and knowing as he is, one senses that Williams believes in the cause of the great entertainer, perhaps because his own back catalogue has its longueurs.

Robert Peter Williams, by all means let him entertain you, but Angels aside, it will always be more artifice than art.

THREE STARS

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