earthly Robbie deserves an award, too

Robbie Williams: he's come a long way, but he's not too sure where he's been. Hotel rooms can do that to you. Where the Boy Who Killed Take That was on Thursday was presenting the MTV Europe Music Awards, bless his velvet suit and plimsolls, and he was jolly brave about it. His feet wobbled nervously all night, but he got through. No wonder he's been wearing that straitjacket on the telly the last couple of weeks. Drink and drugs hell? Pre-publicity, love.

The thing is, TV and truth lie a long way apart. The camera picked up a crowd of maniacs waving their hands and cheering themselves pink in the face. That was about an eighth of the crowd. The rest was music business people, their friends and their friends' friends. The girl in front of me said some people there had paid pounds 150 for a seat. Wonders will never cease.

Music business people make bad crowds. Enthusiasm among this anthropological group is about as welcome as a fireworks display in Sarajevo. The poor lambs were, of course, under considerable strain, as the organisers at Alexandra Palace insisted on serving their free beer in plastic glasses rather than bottles, but still. I've seen more enjoyment at the Royal Courts of Justice. They were jiggered if they were going to be the first one seen clapping, or laughing, or enjoying themselves.

Except Robbie. And even Robbie's famous grin rapidly slipped into a grim line of horror. It was somewhere around the first advert break. Some joker had booked the silver-tongued Mark Lamarr to play warm-up man while the big stars mopped their brows. Mark tried to raise a laugh by saying "cunt". Then he said it again. Then he launched into the sort of we're-all-mates- here "irreverent" vitriol that made The Word such an unqualified success. "Hasn't Robbie lost weight, ladies and gentlemen?" he said. "You used to be a real fat fucker, didn't you, Robbie?" Robbie wasn't having any of it. "Better a fat fooker than an ugly fooker, Mark," he replied.

Even the music biz tittered. Robbie started to show signs of confidence. His accent, which had been showing alarming southernisation, relaxed a bit. By the time he shouted in the Smushing Poompkins I was feeling the same affection I get from a bottle of Scotch and the Take That Greatest Hits video. There's a tank on t' runway, Robbie. Oops, sorry: that was Jason, wasn't it?

"Here's a loovly lad," said Robbie, and George Michael emerged, with a dozen dancing extras, from a limo. George wore a frock coat and looked like the Master in Doctor Who. The audience loosed off a cannon of funereal applause. Virtually the last one of the evening. By the time Metallica played "So Fucking What", it felt more like a comment on crowd reaction than the post-modern philosophical statement it obviously is.

Boyzone and Peter Andre ritually slaughtered some Sixties and Seventies covers, band playing one pitch, lads singing another, mustard suits waggling, proving that neither singing nor dancing ability is obligatory for stardom. This was too much for Robbie. He took the stage and did a slidey thing with his legs. "Boy bands," he said. "That takes me back. 'Cause you know who I used to be?"

Oh, bless. And he's handy with a paintbrush, as well.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk