Friday 23 August 2019

‘England’s son’ Robbie Williams closes BST festival

The set was peppered with 90s tunes including Old Before I Die and Millennium.

Robbie Williams (Ian West/PA)
Robbie Williams (Ian West/PA)

By Aine Fox, PA

Robbie Williams proudly declared he was still “England’s son” and said he would be smiling for weeks after performing to a crowd of thousands in London’s Hyde Park.

The former Take That star, who headlined the final night of the British Summer Time festival in the capital, performed for almost two hours, treating fans to an array of hits from his two decades-long back catalogue as a solo artist.

The show opened with a jokily titled national anthem of Robbie sung to the tune of God Save The Queen, before the singer burst onto the stage with Let Me Entertain You.

Williams, who organisers said had been on their “wish list” since the festival started in 2013, roused huge cheers from the crowd as he asked them: “England, am I still your son?” while singing Come Undone.

The set was peppered with 90s tunes including Old Before I Die and Millennium, as well as later hits Candy, Kids and Rock DJ.

The showman delighted the crowd when he was joined onstage by his father, who Williams said had inspired him to be a performer.

Of watching him sing Sweet Caroline as a young boy, he said: “In that moment I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up.”

With his arm around his father’s shoulder, the pair sang a duet of the Neil Diamond hit, after which Williams said: “Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for my papa.”

ipanews_a9d55fb1-c0e9-4dce-9503-45d906094b98_embedded244106220
Texas performing during the British Summer Time festival (Matt Crossick/PA)

The star was also joined onstage by his former X Factor mentees and “new mates” the LMA choir, for various songs including a rendition of Take That’s Never Forget.

Williams, who revealed last month that he had become the co-owner of LMA – a specialist creative and performing arts college and university centre in Liverpool, championed the choir while he was a judge on the talent show last year alongside his wife Ayda Field.

The 45-year-old, performing his only open-air UK concert of 2019 so far, was fresh from his first ever Las Vegas residency.

Alluding to his former party-boy lifestyle, the father-of-three joked that he had changed his after-show ways dramatically over the years.

To laughter from the crowd, Williams – who is an ambassador for Weightwatchers, now known as WW, said: “I do enough exercise so I can have some houmous after the show.

“It used to be cocaine and strippers and now it’s houmous.”

He also sang crowdpleasers She’s The One, Feel and more recent tune I Love My Life, which he said he had written about his “three beautiful children”.

Fireworks erupted behind the stage as fans put their phone lights in the air to sing along to the anthemic Angels.

Telling the crowd: “I’ve had so much fun,” and that he would be smiling for two weeks, Williams ended with a cover of Frank Sinatra’s My Way.

Williams has amassed 77 million album sales worldwide, and a record 18 Brit Awards during his career.

ipanews_a9d55fb1-c0e9-4dce-9503-45d906094b98_embedded244112001
Black Eyed Peas performing during the British Summer Time festival (Matt Crossick/PA)

The Black Eyed Peas warmed up the sell-out crowd with hits including Where Is the Love? and Let’s Get It Started.

Band member Taboo apologised for “kinda whack” sound issues during the set, indicating there was a problem with the speakers.

Earlier in the day, the crowds were entertained by Feeder, Texas and Keane.

Williams’ gig topped off five nights of music spread over two weekends in the central London park, with Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand and Florence + The Machine all featuring as headliners.

PA Media

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment

Back to top