THE nudge-wink title of this Swings Both Way tour only enforces Robbie Williams’ reputation as the Frankie Howerd of pop music.
Robbie Williamsc - The Hydro, Glasgow
But titter ye not, for while the musical worth of this pseudo-big band show was somewhat degraded, the entertainment value was consistently rewarding.
Williams is no great shakes as a singer, nor does he pretend otherwise, resulting in throwaway renditions of Jazz Age and Rat Pack standards Puttin On The Ritz, Ain’t That A Kick In The Head and a safari-themed I Wanna Be Like You.
But his attention-seeking behaviour paid dividends on his own No One Likes A Fat Pop Star.
This gleefully ridiculous musical theatre riff on his weight issues is a Food Glorious Food for the high-carb age.
Greedy as ever for validation, Williams was unstintingly generous in his interactions with audience members, gladly receiving tartan bunnets, pashminas, kisses, offers of extra-marital affairs, even a quick feel from some forward female fans.
One lucky lady was plucked from the crowd and pressed into a showbiz wedding, with “Reverend” Guy Chambers (co-writer of Angels and Rock DJ among a host of Robbie hits) officiating.
Later, Chambers and other band members backed Williams in a fun barbershop cover of R Kelly’s Ignition, a peachy keen kids’ choir swayed along to High Hopes and he duetted with his dad Peter on Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me.
But even when encouraging a mass karaoke singalong by projecting the lyrics of That’s Amore on to the sumptuous stage curtain, it was still all about Robbie, with his native Stoke-on-Trent substituted for the original Napoli.
Musically, the whole show was too arch to resonate emotionally – almost everything came across as silly or throwaway – but as a light entertainment concept, it did the (show)business with a couple of stand-out choreographed set pieces in a mincing rainbow rendition of Swings Both Ways and Williams’ own high energy Louis Prima pastiche, Soda Pop.
With all the camp larks, there was barely time to acknowledge his pop catalogue.
A handful of his biggest hits were belatedly crammed into a soft shoe medley before a cathartic crowd singalong to My Way and Angels demonstrated just how thoroughly he had won over the audience with his cartoon equivalent of George Michael’s earnest Symphonica tour.
Seen on 26.06.14