The four-day VAILO Adelaide 500 race meeting has ended and the much-anticipated closing concert begins! Local indigenous musician Rob Edwards and his band open proceeding with a welcome to the Country. He has a beautiful, gentle nature about him as he talks about the power in the country and how it speaks to us. They make dreamy, creamy soulful melodic R&B sounds that are perfect for the warm spring afternoon. He looks the business too; good looking, cool tattoos and great hair. His set is over all too soon.
The Crowd, which was large before, is now getting seriously packed. Around 50,000 are expected and the “sensible” ones, anticipating growing demand as the food and beverage stations are
bringing more than one drink back from the bar!
Lufthaus, a two-piece electro-pop outfit, are the next up and do their best to keep the party going. Playing booming dance beats, heavy bass and sampling. They are trying hard to engage the crowd but let’s face it everyone is here for Robbie Williams. They play a dance version of the Proclaimers ‘500 Miles’ which to me seemed a weird combo but it got some in the crowd dancing and clapping. Their sampled version of the Eurythmics was a much better fit and prompted a singalong from some of the crowd around us.
The dance vibe continues with Sneaky Sound System. Vocalist Connie Mitchell making an impact in her bright orange jumpsuit. She really had a great stage presence and demonstrated loads of
positive energy as she worked the crowd with her voice booming out over the top of techno beats. The crowd are getting involved now and responded well as the band closed out with ‘UFO’ their big hit from 2006.
Gaz Coombes, former frontman of UK Britpop alt-rock band Supergrass, is next on. “Fast cars and now the guitars” he calls out to the crowd and with that the electronic dance music is over for the
afternoon. Supergrass song ‘Richard III’ was superb. The next song was abandoned midway through. Gaz spotted somebody in the crowd appearing distressed. His concern was genuine and he
followed through until he got a thumbs-up from that section of the crowd, he seems a genuinely nice guy. His solo material is slower and more reflective than the quirky brit pop of Supergrass. ‘Turn the car around’ demonstrates how good his voice is. Another of his newer songs ‘Deep pockets’ rocked and he is being backed by a really great, tight band. There is time for a couple more Supergrass numbers including ‘Pumping on your stereo’ but sadly ‘Alright’ the feel-good hit of the summer of 1995 didn’t make the cut. Gaz thanks the crowd. He reminds us that “Robbie F#%king Williams is up next” and finishes by conducting the band and the crowd for a small, ethereal moment before they leave us with a swirl of loud guitars and sweeping organ chords.
1.) Richard III (Supergrass song)
2.) Pumping on Your Stereo (Supergrass song)
3.) Deep Pockets
At last, the time has come for the much longed-for superstar that is Robbie Williams to close the show. The crowd is now a solid mass, punters with beers in hand weaving in and around the interior like lost explorers looking for the best vantage point. A projection of Robbie appears on the giant screens looking like Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker or a Greek Olympian of old. AC/DC blasts out of the speakers followed by The Bee Gees followed by ‘A Little Less Conversation’ by Elvis. Yeah, maybe 50,000 people need a little more action and no one is better placed to deliver it than Robbie! The big screen counts us down and the band, dancers and Robbie kick into gear. Wow, what a stage show! So much going on as they open with ‘Hey Wow Yeah Yeah’.
Then by way of introduction, “This is Robbie ….Fucking…. Williams, this is my band, this is my arse, are you with me?” We are and they break into ‘Let me entertain you’ He is wearing a black sparkly suit, a white scarf and an untamed haircut shaved on the sides and spikey on the top! The screen impacts us with multiple Robbie images and the crowd goes off! He follows up with ‘Land of 1000 dances’ as he exhorts the crowd to get our f#%kin’ hands up! It’s an interesting choice but it lets his dancers show off their talents and he gets the crowd joining in with all the “na-na-nas”. He demonstrates his knowledge of how to work an Australian crowd. ‘Melbourne has been the loudest singing this’ which prompts pantomime boos from the Adelaide crowd and ensures that had there been a roof it would have blown off. Then afterwards, in an exaggerated puff, he jokes “I’m too old for this shit, I need to do a whole concert of ballads”. “Do you know what the number one rule of an entertainer is?…LOVE YOUR AUDIENCE!”. Out comes the risqué sexual comedian in him “back in the 90s I tried to love you all individually and I nearly did it too, in fact I remember some of you”. We are all feeling the love tonight Robbie! He loves the crowd and in turn he is much loved right back.
He engages fully with the crowd, next up choosing a bloke standing on the front fence, Andrew who Robbie renames as Adrian, to be his straight man fall guy for more comedy. Getting “Adrian” to act out dance moves that the crowd must follow and to interpret the feeling behind song lyrics. All this banter is very comical with Robbie paying the guy out for not knowing any of his song lyrics and for having been dragged along to the show by his wife. Next song he plunges into the audience briefly, then re-emerges on stage saying that when he was young, he was mobbed by lusty young women and now, mostly, the audience just wants to mother him EXCEPT for “that woman over there made a grab, “you”, he gazes at her, yes you!” “YOU will now be known as COCKLADY, I felt your hands going in for the grab after a feel around”
He continues with his most famous hits and all the crowd around us are immersed. All singing along and totally engaged. So many die-hard fans know ALL the words to all the songs. Their dedication and fandom is impressive. Robbie fever is contagious, we are getting a dose as well. Robbie isn’t just a rock star who sings the songs, he is a rock star that is the songs.
He has a very vulnerable moment in between all the humour when he lets us into the darker side of his personality. His persecutory thought life and his battle with the drinking and drugs that he used to quieten those thoughts down. He admits he has leant on the love of his audience and that has helped to keep him sober for the last 20 years. That as well as the love of his wife and 4 kids.
Enough reflection and he’s back to humorous banter and belting out the songs. Later, during the encore he dedicated his cover of World Party’s ‘She’s the one’ to a woman at the front; engaging her in banter and singing soulfully and lovingly into her eyes with of course a humorous twinkle in the eye and a little banter about her husband and daughter and his wife, “its a little weird but let’s have this moment.”
Highlights amongst highlights were his cover of Oasis’ ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, “I Come Undone” and then “Angels” Every phone was recording and every voice singing along. He remerged for the encore, sporting an extended mullet hairpiece, to sing a version of “The Voice” by John Farnham. Personally, I liked his version better than JFs, it had the Robbie touch of charisma, humour and sparkle.
It has been the best part of two hours of solid entertainment, a show that has unveiled the Robbie Story. He took us, by a combination of storyteller and songs, through his years with 5 piece boy band Take That and the sacking from that band that set him on his way to major stardom in his own right. Then on through to the present day by way of his major hits, with many being sung like anthems by old and young alike. The show was a little Las Vegas showman; a little Butlins holiday camp bawdy entertainment; a little sideshow sharp talker and all full of humour and tongue in cheek cheese.
Highly camp one moment, macho music superstar the next. He gives 110 percent; he really loves his audience and it shows and is, in turn, loved and adored right on back. Disarmingly honest at times as he spoke about drinking, drugs and mental health demonstrating absolute vulnerability about his feelings and struggles. All of this is held together by a voice that is so impressive as he belted out hit after hit.
50,000 people witnessed the spectacle of a great entertainer who was born to rule the stage and love the crowd.
Robbie Williams – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Tambourine
Gary Nuttall – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Guy Chambers – Keyboard, Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jeremy Meehan – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Karl Brazil – Drums
Tom Longworth – Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Denosh Bennett – Backing Vocals
Sara-Jane Skeete – Backing Vocals
Nayanna Holley – Backing Vocals
1.) Hey Wow Yeah Yeah
2.) Let Me Entertain You
3.) Land of 1000 Dances (Chris Kenner cover)
5.) Come Undone
6.) Do What U Like (Take That song)
7.) Could It Be Magic (Barry Manilow cover)
8.) Don’t Look Back in Anger (Oasis cover)
9.) Back for Good (Take That song)
10.) Love My Life
11.) Better Man
15.) Rock DJ
16.) You’re the Voice (John Farnham cover)
17.) She’s the One (World Party cover)
19.) Let Me Entertain You / Strong / Come Undone / Better Man / Feel / Angels (A Cappella)
20.) (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life (Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes song) (Outro)
Follow Robbie Williams Online:
Follow Gaz Coombes Online:
Follow Sneaky Sound System Online:
Follow Lufthaus Online:
Follow Rob Edwards Online:
I left the Teaching game in 2014 to follow my dream of becoming a concert photographer, combining my loves of music and photography. Based in rural South Australia, I travel the country photographing artists, bands and favourite festivals. I love catching that magic moment!