The ninth beatitude – blessed is she who never expects anything – was ringing in my ears as I left the opening night of Robbie Williams Swings Both Ways tour the other night.
Given that I’m musically clueless (I’ve just discovered who Bjork is!) it’s little wonder that I only know one RW song – Angels – so I wasn’t expecting much from him. I wasn’t standing there waiting for him to sing my favourites. And so, when he didn’t, I wasn’t disappointed.
Say what you like about him (I can’t get beyond the fact that his has LOVE tattooed on his fingers) – the man’s a born entertainer. The set would have been at home in Las Vegas. And the bantering was classic – if somewhat wasted on the audience.
The lads said the acoustics were terrible. I said I was happy that I could chat and be heard, thus completely missing the point that I was at a concert and shouldn’t be able to hear myself above the gig. Ergo the acoustics were terrible. As the thousands in their seats stayed seated, despite the great swing numbers he played, I was a mesmerised by the complete lack of audience engagement. Had this been Dublin, the walls would have been shaking.
He cleverly used the curtain as a backdrop to add the words to some of the songs to get the crowd going. I’m a fan of self-deprecation and yet when he told us how stupid he was, having dropped out of school, etc. etc., as a prelude to singing ‘If I only had a brain‘, I thought this was a little too much. But he wormed his way back into my good graces when he brought his dad, Pete Conway, on stage for a duet, a plan that actually made the papers in the UK earlier this month.
I’m fond of swing – I like a good bop. He’s got a great voice. And he’s a showman. So I wasn’t disappointed. Were I a fan and had I gone expecting to hear Robbie doing Robbie, I’d have been gutted. This week, I’m grateful that I had no expectations… and that I wasn’t disappointed.