It’s less than a year until Glastonbury‘s massive 50th anniversary, and the rumour mill already looks fit to collapse under the weight of speculation. Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney and Elton John are among the names in consideration for a place at Worthy Farm’s top table.
But if you’re reading this, Michael and Emily Eavis, then please allow us to throw another name into the fray – Robbie fuckin’ Williams.
Want proof? Ask any one of the 60,000 fans who pack into Hyde Park tonight (July 14) to see Robbie prove, yet again, that he’s one of the greatest solo stars that Britain has ever produced.
The masterclass begins from the moment that he bounds on stage to ‘Let Me Entertain You’, looking resplendent in a sequinned jacket and displaying the unrelenting energy of someone half of his 45 years. “TONIGHT, YOUR ARSE IS MINE” he screams to the huge crowd.
This new lease of life can perhaps be credited to his clean living – which he jokingly mocks during an early section. Endearingly taking the piss out of his new role as a brand ambassador for Weight Watchers (no, seriously), he quips: “It used to be cocaine and strippers backstage, and now it’s hummus.”
Rock and roll it ain’t, but he seemingly wears the new lifestyle well. He’s never sounded better as he hits the high notes on ‘Feel’ and a biblical rendition of ‘Rock DJ’ is enough to send pints flying – igniting the kind of chaos that you wouldn’t usually associate with a household favourite.
But amid the unexpected rowdiness, there’s still time for moments of sanitised, questionable indulgences too. A late section sees him serenading a crowd member with ‘Somethin’ Stupid’. It’s a pinch-me moment for the fan in question, but passing punters would be forgiven for thinking they’d just walked into Butlins.
More successful, however, is the genuinely touching moment when his dad Peter joins him to cover Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ – with Robbie recalling how watching his father sing initially inspired his career.
And by the time that ‘Angels’ inevitably arrives, Williams appears genuinely touched too – later remarking that the reception to tonight’s gig will leave a smile on his face for the next fortnight.
It’s all entirely deserved – with one of Britain’s most enduring stars proving in spades that he’s still got what it takes to command the biggest stages of them all.
Having conquered the likes of Wembley, Knebworth and now Hyde Park – there’s only one stage left for Robbie to tackle. On the basis of tonight’s showing, the fields of Worthy Farm should be the next challenge. Over to you, Glastonbury.
Robbie Williams played:
‘Let Me Entertain You’
‘We Will Rock You’
‘Old Before I Die’
‘Land Of 1000 Dances’
‘It Wasn’t Me’
‘Love My Life’
‘Back In Black’/‘Kids’
‘She’s The One’