Robbie Williams’ Swings Both Ways, 02 Arena, London: 'Old-fashioned entertainment'

Williams has long known how to put on a good show, but this was his hammiest to date

Robbie Williams is pop’s new Peter Pan, still as energetic and gregarious at 40 as he was when he launched his career in 1990. Sometimes this show worked, sometimes it felt a bit embarrassing and try-hard, like seeing a Northern version of Michael Bublé.

Williams has long known how to put on a good show, but this was his hammiest to date, with lashings of confetti and feather boas. With the focus on tracks from his latest swing album, Swings Both Ways, it was old-fashioned entertainment with plenty of audience interaction. At one point, he “married” a member of the audience, who enthusiastically groped his derrière – Lynn from Dorset will be dining off that story for years to come.

Williams was at his most charismatic during renditions of “Minnie the Moocher”, “New York, New York” and “I Wanna Be Like You”, for which he naturally dressed as a gorilla in a tux. He was later joined by his father for a duet. And by the time “Angels” came, the crowd was a sea of hands.

It was cheesy, camp fun and the audience was completely charmed by him. Whether you like his cheeky-chappy persona or not, it looks as if Williams will be entertaining huge auditoriums for years to come.

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