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Gig Review: Robbie still knows how to entertain us

THE clown prince of pop is high again. Off the ground, that is, what with a mischievous Robbie Williams doing what he does best – making a dramatic entrance.

That tiny figure on top of the stage – the one who just emerged from a giant, golden cast of his head, surrounded by flames and flares? That's our boy. He's attached to a zip wire, too.

Because when you're a hundred feet from the floor and in need of a quick lift down, the only way to avoid using a ladder is to jump. He's done it before. And it gets better every time.

"Allow me to reintroduce myself," he declares. Yes, the ego has truly landed, and though 39-year-old Williams is a little heavier, a little greyer and typically over-eager, he's also in spectacular form on this, his first solo tour in seven years.

The Take That reunion worked wonders, then. It might also be the reason why, in the absence of Barlow and chums, Williams (who has a thing for glittery coats and more giant models of his head) occasionally invites friends to join in.

Support act Olly Murs guest stars on a rousing rendition of Kids. A lucky fan is plucked from the audience for a puppet show, a private serenading of Everything Changes and a cuddle in bed, complete with Take That sheets.

SHOWMANSHIP

Williams also allows a young Irish duo, whom he met on The Late Late Show (the talented Fresh Re), to take centre stage. It's a nice touch. But then, he's always been good with detail.

"We've got history," he bellows, amidst a sea of smoke during the brilliant Gospel. "Slane Castle, Phoenix Park, Croker, Lansdowne Road – is this the end?"

The chap shakes his head. Of course not.

A frighteningly energetic performer, Williams has rediscovered a level of showmanship and – more importantly – a likeability not seen since he first started to convince us of his talents.

The voice is in good shape, stretching far and wide for the always reliable Angels, and the fantastic Feel. True, he'd be an even better singer if he wasn't so wrapped up in a relentless pursuit to keep us entertained.

But you have to admire his passion. And the bad dancing.

"Do you still intend to grow old with me?" he asks after two hours.

Sure, if you keep this up, then why not?

Star Rating: 4/5


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