A Concert for Heroes, Twickenham Stadium
Tuesday 14 September 2010
The bromance is back on. After 15 years, Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow are on stage together, hugging and looking into each other's eyes as they sing their new single "Shame" in front of an excitable crowd of 60,000.
If it's easy to be cynical about such a saccharine reunion, at least the performance is for a good cause. The show at Twickenham Stadium is raising money for the charity Help for Heroes – cue lots of sexy camo outfits of dubious taste and flares being used as stage props. But while we're shown videos of veterans' post-army lives, the concert is mercifully restrained on the "our boys" rhetoric.
It's big on cheese, however. Taking a variety-show approach, they stuff in the fun, from a string of X Factor and Britain's Got Talent winners (including gymnastics troupe Spelbound throwing Katherine Jenkins and her threatening-to-spill cleavage around the stage) to Bruce Forsyth tap-dancing to Tom Jones singing forces' favourite "Green Green Grass of Home".
Not everyone pulls off the stadium setting – there are bum notes in many of the pop performances (I'm looking at you, Saturdays and Pixie Lott), and the sheer scale of the venue overwhelms some of the stand-up comedians. Heart strings are firmly tugged at as the evening progresses. James Blunt, despite being the musical equivalent of Ready Brek, turns in a tuneful and confident performance. His soppy hit "You're Beautiful" marks the first crowd choker, but it's no match for Enrique Iglesias. He was presumably asked to perform because of the title of his biggest hit,"Hero" – and although the overblown ballad is faintly nauseating, the crowd adores it.
Robbie has always been about the swagger, and whether he's swivelling his hips or skipping impishly round the stage, he certainly does – as his opening number requests – entertain us. After duetting with Barlow, his final song is, of course, "Angels". It becomes a giant sing-and-sway-along, with just the right amount of easily digestible poignancy.
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