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ROBBIE WILLIAMS' RED-HOT WARM-UP DATE

Reading falls under his spell - check out the exclusive video report...

Robbie Williams has just left the stage at the 3000-capacity READING RIVERMEAD CENTRE this evening (October 6) after playing a low-key gig to warm up for his UK stadium tour which kicks off at BIRMINGHAM NEC on Monday.

To see an exclusive video report from the gig, click here: 56k ISDN

Coming on to a thunderous 'Carmina Burana', rewritten with 'Robbie, Robbie' as the main refrain, Williams took to the stage dressed in a tastefully spangly beige sleeveless T-shirt and jeans, beneath a maelstrom of violet light, to a deafening reception from fans, and launched into the set with his single 'Let Me Entertain You'. Diving around a stage set scaled down from what fans can expect from his forthcoming stadium dates, a giant spotlight picked him out throughout the gig.

The 15-piece band worked through songs from albums 'I've Been Expecting You' and his last chart-topping album 'Sing When You're Winning'. But the standout tracks were the oldies - 'Millennium', 'No Regrets', 'Angels' - which had a large proportion of the fans with their lighters in the air - 'She's The One' and 'Strong'.

The big surprise of the set came in the first encore, when Williams played a version of the Frank Sinatra classic 'My Way'.

Rumours of a surprise appearance from Kylie Minogue on the pair's duet, current single 'Kids', were rife prior to the gig, but proved to be unfounded. However, Williams did promise that Minogue would make it to some of the forthcoming stadium dates.

Despite frequent declarations that he'd been terrified before going onstage, he remained his cheeky self throughout, predicting England would win tomorrow's football match against Germany "3-1, with (Manchester United's) Paul Scholes scoring the first goal from 25 yards".

The set ended with a second encore of his recent Number One single 'Rock DJ', and before leaving the stage, Williams asked the audience, "Are you going to go home happy tonight? I know I am."

One fan, who had queued for 15 hours for a ticket to the show, told nme.com: "It is the first time I have seen him play and it was worth every penny and every minute!"

Williams will start his UK tour on Monday, calling at: Birmingham NEC (October 9-10, 12-14) Glasgow SECC (16-18) Newcastle Telewest Arena (20-21) Manchester Evening News Arena (23-24, 26-28) London Docklands Arena (October 31-November 2, 4-6).

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