Music review: Robbie Williams, Hydro, Glasgow

On his XXV Tour, Robbie Williams comes across as an older, happier, thankful but unrepentant entertainer, writes Fiona Shepherd

Robbie Williams, Hydro, Glasgow ***

After XXV years as a solo artist (XXXII in total when you factor in the Take That years), Robbie Williams has still got it – “it” being the capacity to send himself up, make passive aggressive digs at those who have crossed him, disarm with a candid confessional, plus sing and semi-dance his way through an uneven catalogue. You might say he has no filter, were his XXV tour not smartly scripted to sound like an off-the-cuff audience with an older, happier, thankful but unrepentant entertainer.

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"Allow me to reintroduce myself" he boomed from atop a podium, resplendent/ridiculous in gold lame sports casual surrounded by three guitarists whipping up the rock racket Hey Wow Yeah Yeah and six pelvic-thrusting priestesses, called upon at various points in the show to execute some cheeky moves.

Robbie Williams at the Hydro, Glasgow PIC: Calum Buchan
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This was Vegas done Stoke-style with Williams affecting to be out of puff after a spot of hoofing. Right on cue, a fan threw her inhaler on stage. Audience participation is catnip to Williams and he communed with the crowd during Monsoon, getting more contact than he bargained for.

He larked about with the Take That legacy, offering commentary on their cringeworthy first video and sacking off a snippet of Everything Changes, before finally delivering with the pomp pop of The Flood.

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Sobriety and fatherhood have given him purpose but he can only be serious in spurts – the bland sincerity of Love My Life had to be followed by the sweetie shower of Candy. Early hit Old Before I Die was similarly throwaway, especially when contrasted with the grown-up pop of his best song Feel and the galvanising anthems Kids and Rock DJ. A lush encore of No Regrets summed up Williams in his silver jubilee year before the inevitable Angels singalong and unscheduled a cappella medley reprise of some of the hits from a man who just doesn’t want to leave the stage.