British singer Robbie Williams performs at the Zenith concert hall in Paris..
(photo credit: BENOIT TESSIER /REUTERS)
The phrase “show business” was invented long before Robbie Williams was born, but he certainly wears it like it was tailor-made for him.
Not since the heyday of Freddie Mercury and Queen roaming the Earth has an entertainer combined flamboyance, bravado and bad-boy likability as adeptly as the 41-year-old British pop superstar.
Just imagine where he could be if his career momentum hadn’t sputtered and stalled numerous times via detours in rehab or misguided Take That reunion tours.
Williams’s global “Let Me Entertain You” tour, which sets down in Tel Aviv this weekend for an outdoor show on Saturday night at Park Hayarkon, is one of the largest-scale events of the year.
And like a throwback to the days of cabaret glitter and glam, Williams is attempting to provide a spectacle, replete with devil horns and platinumblond tresses.
Where else you could you hear medleys of “We Will Rock You” and “I Love Rock & Roll” bumping up against Cab Calloway’s “Minnie The Moocher,” The Isley Brothers’ “Shout,” Lorde’s “Royals” (establishing his hip credentials) and Williams’s own Brit pop classics like “Angels,” “Millennium,” and “Rock DJ”? Featuring an eight-piece band plus four background singers and dancers, and almost as many costume changes, Williams is not content to let the music do the talking, but is insistent on making good on the promise of the tour’s title, and one his most popular songs.
A review of his show earlier this week in Dubai that appeared in The National called the performance a “preposterous pastiche” with “buckets of narcissism on display – but then anyone would need a fair portion of self-love to think they could don a jumpsuit and pull off Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ one of the most bizarre moments in a really quite bizarre show.”
But, like so many skeptics, the reviewer ultimately succumbed to Williams’s sheer tenacity, writing, “It would be easy to be won over by the theatrics, and many were... The title of the tour rang true – this was pure theater, entertainment through and through.”
The audience in Israel, which possesses one of the more fervent Williams fan bases and has championed his career from the time he went solo in the late 1990s, won’t need any convincing that they’re in the presence of rock royalty. And Williams has made it clear that he holds his first appearance here in high esteem.
“Before this tour, I was always asked where I’m most excited to be appearing, and I said again and again that Israel really interests me,” he told Yediot Aharonot earlier this month. “From what I can tell, it’s a combination of mystery, culture and history...
I’m excited to be coming because I’ve heard there’s a special energy in Israel, and I don’t know why, but I’m nervous, tense and afraid at the same time about my show there.”
That’s unexpected coming from the best-selling British solo artist ever in the UK, with more than 70 million records sold worldwide. But instead of turning to his once ever-present vices to cope with the pressure, today Williams is a family man – married in 2010 to American Jewish actress Ayda Field and the father of two toddlers. However, the reformed bad boy is not taking his clean lifestyle for granted.
“I hope that my past life is behind me. Life comes in waves, and currently I’m in a big, clean wave. I hope it stays that way, but who knows? I’m an addictive personality,” he told Yediot. “I know I’m fine today, but I never really know about tomorrow.
Do you use that phrase in Israel about a cat having nine lives? You can say that about me too.”
No matter which life he is currently riding on, Williams will undoubtedly land on his feet, and into the hearts, of the crowd on Saturday night in Tel Aviv.