The ego has landed – but new album lets Robbie Williams down
Review: Robbie Williams at Aviva Stadium
How to measure the size of Robbie Williams' ego? How about the large sculptures of his head and torso that are wheeled out at every opportunity? Or the enormous stage backdrop featuring his face? Or the fact that he enters by "flying" in on high wires like a (slightly ungainly) super-hero.
One practically expects the ex-Take That singer to pound his chest like an ape after making his entrance. Instead, he roars into his microphone: "I am Robbie f***ing Williams and you are Dub-f***ing-lin."
But as he races through opening song 'Let Me Entertain You', that ego must be bruised by the sight of banks of empty seating throughout the stadium. He is not quite as big a draw as he used to be. "Show some love for Robbie," he begs early on.
His cause isn't helped by the paucity of good, original material over the past decade and, with the show leaning heavily on songs from his slapdash latest album, 'Take the Crown', the lack of strong songs is writ large.
Even the album's most popular number, 'Candy', sounds terribly ordinary.
The first 80 minutes of his show fails to ignite. It says something that a Rihanna cover from Fresh Re – the Co Kildare kids who have become a YouTube sensation – appears to generate more excitement than the man who has invited them to the stage.
It takes Take That's 'Never Forget' to provide a much-needed break from the high-tempo, but homogenised, racket.
Williams' showman capabilities rouse themselves for the set's final third thanks to 'Millennium' and 'Rock DJ'.
The encore sees him take the home straight at a gallop. 'Real Love' and 'She's the One' are sung back word-perfect while 'Angels' is one giant karaoke session. Williams simply sings the opening verse and then points his mic at the audience and they do the rest.