December 17, 2019
Wembley Arena, LondonWilliams’s cheeky-chappy energy visibly ebbs away when the audience don’t get behind tracks from his new seasonal album
Robbie Williams review – Christmas party host is desperate to be loved
Midway through tonight’s festive folly, Robbie Williams confesses that his recent foray into the overcrowded Christmas market has a clear aim. “I came to stop Bublé,” he jokes, referencing the Canadian crooner’s yuletide ubiquity. Later he’ll claim that an early title for his own, ludicrously overstuffed album The Christmas Present was the actually much better Achtung Bublé. It all adds up to exactly the sort of knowing, cheeky-chappy humour that Williams has alchemised into a near-30-year career.
Tonight, in the decidedly unfestive Wembley Arena, the people’s jester is playing party host, steering the crowd – resplendent in bedazzled festive sweaters – through a cornucopia of chintz. The opening cover of Christmas (Please Come Home) canters along nicely, Williams immediately defaulting to type as he lifts up his red tinsel suit jacket to waggle his bum, while Let Me Entertain You unleashes a sea of bobbing antler headbands. With the crowd in the palm of his hand he somehow manages to let them go, with a string of new Christmas songs – including the risible, cliche-ridden Snowflakes – undercutting the merriment. He seems to notice, sarcastically thanking the crowd for the “seated ovation” after the above average Rudolph, before adding an apologetic, “it’s the first time I’ve done a Christmas show so please bear with me”, ahead of a choir-assisted Winter Wonderland. He’s keen to highlight the Christmas album’s chart-topping success, but the muted response suggests people haven’t made it through all of its 28 tracks.
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