So Robbie Williams is 40. His home town of Stoke are celebrating with a tour of his childhood hangouts and it’s been hailed as a newsworthy item by the national news (I woke to my Radio 5 live alarm reporting about his impending coming of old age). I have mixed emotions about this. 1. Is there really nothing else of significant value to inform the world about? and 2. I have turned into my mother explaining to my kids that Robbie Williams used to be in a boy band, a bit like One Direction and was the Harry Styles of my time. Just like Bruce Springsteen was the heart throb of my mums generation – I remember looking at him (Bruce) and thinking ugh, as if!! This is now me and my daughter.
However, at the ripe age of 40 Mr Williams is still fairly pleasing on the eye and despite having worked hard to shed his playboy reputation by settling down with his wife and baby girl he still has a bad boy glint in his eye which for some women (me included) continues to make him a viable object of desire.
Admittedly I’ve not always been the biggest fan of him and his ego but we have shared some wonderful experiences and memorable evenings together. (Even if I was in the audience and he was on stage) I was never a big Take Thatter. I didn’t cry when they split but if I had to chose one to drool over it would have been him. My real Robbie relationship started on The Ego Has Landed Tour in 1998 when my boyfriend (now husband) got tickets to see him at King Georges Hall in Blackburn. A modest venue but ideal for a former boy band member embarking on his foray into the world of going it alone. I was heavily pregnant so there wasn’t any crowd surfing on my part but his show was mesmerising. ‘Let Me Entertain You’ was the stand out song and his jokeresque theme made it a memorable evening which is impressive considering my inability to remember things!
Our eldest son’s first live concert was to see Robbie at Knebworth in 2003 (he was 4) where by now the ego had definitely landed. It was a whole different ball game to the intimate affair 5 years earlier in Blackburn with almost 400,000 people letting him entertain them over three days. Whilst his humbleness and humility on stage were genuine (I think) this was a period where his playboy lifestyle and behaviour outside of his day job was drawing more attention than his music.
However this is also the time where I thought his music was at its best. My favourite album Escapology was was released in 2002 and preceded Life Thru a Lens (1997) I’ve been Expecting you (1998) and Sing When You’re Winning (2000). I pretty much switched off to him and his music when ‘Intensive Care’ was released in 2005 and even more so with Rudebox. He so should have stuck with Guy Chambers.
But whatever my thoughts on his music, lifestyle or reputation, you can’t argue that Robbie Williams was/is a huge star in his own and influenced the music of the late nineties and noughties. His song ‘Angels’ was played to death (ironic) and was voted Best Single of the Past Twenty-Five Years” at the 2005 BRIT Awards although I blame him and that song for some ear-bleeding experiences in karaoke bars (why do people think they can sing it?). Whether he was toned and fit, boozed up and bloated or sophisticatedly greying - I’d still give him a good half hour