I’ve had the time of my life

Robbie Williams – Esprit Arena, Düsseldorf; June 28th, 2017

After Robbie Williams had left the stage and the lights went on in the arena last night, ‘I’ve had the time of my life’ from the ‘Dirty Dancing’ soundtrack was played in the house and while hundreds of us walked out through a large hallway towards the still surprisingly bright sky outside, I noticed that I was singing along. The beautiful part was, that I was not the only one. At least half of the people who walked there were singing loudly, with the words echoing from the walls and only when the chorus was over we stopped. It was the perfect ending to a brilliant show, summing up everyone’s feeling. We had all come to be entertained and Robbie did exactly that. When he started he promised that for the night our asses were his and he delivered. He had us all before the first song was sung and when the show ended I did not see anyone who didn’t have a happy, often slightly loony, smile on their faces. Every concert should be like this!

It had been 11 years since I’d last seen Robbie perform a pop concert and I’ve mostly stopped listening to his music since. Even though I know he is a brilliant entertainer and I’d enjoyed his swing show in Berlin a couple of years back, I wasn’t sure at all if I really wanted to go, fearing it might not appeal to me any more. I could not have been more wrong. I loved it from the moment the lights went down to the last note and he totally made me forget everything else. My ass was indeed Robbie’s for the one hours and 50 minutes he performed – it was the perfect entertainment.

Remembering the Close Encounters tour I had originally planned to take the day off and line up in the morning, but I am seriously getting too old for this sort of thing and decided against it, instead working for half a day before going there. It was raining heavily when I arrived and took me a while to even find the right entrance. Then I heard the line at the other one was shorter and went over there, taking a chance. It all worked out perfectly. After an hour or so the rain stopped, they let everyone in at the same time and I ended up in third row on the left side. I had expected to be standing way in the back so I was a happy camper. 😀 Most people around me where my age, therefore there was not much pushing and shoving and nobody screamed into my ear either. Everyone was relaxed and I chatted nicely with several other women while we waited.

At 7:30 on the dot the lights went down and Erasure walked on stage. When I had seen they were supporting Robbie on tour my first reaction was: “Wait, what? They still exist?” Apparently, they do and they are still making new music too. They were quite listenable, but didn’t really blow me off my feet. The only stuff I really liked were the old songs I knew. Funnily enough as soon as they played a hit from the 80ies lots of people were singing along. Just like me they’d grown up with this music too and grown older with Robbie. 🙂 Anyway, I did enjoy Erasure’s performance and they made the time pass quickly.

Setlist

Victim of Love
Drama!
Love You to the Sky
Oh L’Amour
Chorus
Blue Savannah
Love to Hate You
Sometimes
Stop!
Chains of Love
A Little Respect

Robbie was scheduled to start at 9 pm and while we waited I watched people and whatever was happening on the big screens. Since the roof of the arena was closed it was incredibly hot and just as I wondered if I should go out and try to get a drink the security guards at the front were passing out free water. Thank you! Unexpectedly, at 20:45  the arena went dark. So early? Along with everyone else I clapped and cheered. The mock hymn ‘God bless our Robbie’ was played from tape, lyrics on the screen included. It was wonderfully ironic, including lines like “He can swing like a bastard and can rock all night long”, “but would still make Rudebox and give rap a go” and “he is totally global, except in the US of A”. Every single line made me grin, it was just the right mixture of being a show off and not taking oneself seriously. 🙂

Robbie was announced like a boxer and raised up rom below the stage, wearing a boxing cape, standing with his back to the audience. He turned, surrounded by dancers and started singing ‘The Heavy Entertainment Show’. Most people already sang along. I could not, but loved watching, my smile growing bigger as the cape came off and he was wearing a skirt. Yes sir! That was absolutely cool. He walked to the very front of the catwalk and told us that he was Robbie Fucking Williams (like Amanda Fucking Palmer? I thought) and our collective ass was his for the night. Fine with me! At the end of the first song confetti cannons went off for the first tie that night. Oh wow! If I had not been sold before I was then. It was an amazing show already and it only got better from there. ‘Let me entertain you’ was next and here I was, singing along and jumping up and down as if no time had passed since 2006. With ‘Monsoon’ he fully took me back to that tour and I briefly wondered why I had been so reluctant to go to the concert. This was fucking amazing!

He spent a lot of time on the catwalk, but he also came over to the sides a lot and made sure to go to each side equally much so everyone got a closer look at him. One time I was almost sure he waved and smiled at me, but most probably everyone around me thought the same. 😉 For ‘Party like a Russian’ which he changed to “Party like a German” the dancers wore black outfits with red hats while he sat in some sort of chair. Everything was well choreographed and often I didn’t know if I should watch him or the dancers.

Robbie was chatty, telling us he was getting old, back pains included. I hear you man and I can feel it too! 😀 It did not keep me from dancing and enjoying the show though and it did not keep him from performing either. He talked about Take That and asked us if we knew that song, starting to sing ‘Back for good’ which pretty much everyone sang along to. There was a woman with a sign that he had kept looking at earlier, but I could only see the back of it. We now learned she was asking him to sign her tits, because he confirmed that with her. Apparently he had done something like that in Dresden and liked it, so he wanted to do it again and proceeded to walk over to her. It was all on the screen too. She hesitated for a moment, then lifted her shirt and he took the pen she had and signed “Love, Robbie”, commenting “Thank you Germany for this!”. Not something I would want, but hey, if that floats your boat why not? 😉 We did not get ‘Back for good’ in full, but ‘The Flood’ instead. Nice.

After that Robbie talked about George Michael and how much he had admired him, before launching into ‘Freedom’. Of course I knew he had covered the song on his first album, but I never expected him to play that one. It was a good version too! For ‘Love my Life’ he told us about his daughter Teddie and how, when they had watched him on TV she had asked her mom: “After we’re done watching Daddy on the television, can we watch something we really like?” “Everyone’s a critic.” he concluded and explained he has written the next song for her, while walking to the front of the catwalk and climbing on to a huge hand/ boxing glove that was attached to a crane and carried him over the audience in a half circle. It was awesome and everyone was singing along to the song too.

Then he asked us if we were “Better than Berlin, louder than Leipzig, etc” testing this by making us sing along to a medley of songs. The first one was Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ and anyone who follows my blog regularly will understand why I started laughing. The sing along was pretty good though, especially considering the long and diverse list of songs Robbie quoted from. It wasn’t equally great for all the songs he put in the medley, but overall I’d say we passed the test, especially because we sang loudest to his own songs. Only with ‘Candy’ we failed, leading him to comment “I thought that was a hit in Germany”. He was happy with our performance on ‘Come undone’ and launched right into the song, asking in the end if he was still our son. Hell yes! I have always loved that song, it was the one that made me a fan and I was so happy to hear it, I actually had tears in my eyes, while singing along at the top of my lungs.

The entire night I sang and danced and swayed along to the music. I screamed so loud that I thought I might have lost my voice and I sweat bucketloads too. I could not have been happier to be there, felt happy and in awe, was moved to tears and forgot the world and the fact that I’d been dead tired right before the show started. Only music can do this to me, make me live in the moment, be as present as I am ever going to be, feeling alive. 😀

Robbie was looking for someone to sing the next song with and stated his requirements, saying the person could not be better looking than him or taller or sing better… Eventually he picked out a woman, led her up to stage, asked her name (Stefanie) and where she was from (Düsseldorf) and then sat down with her on a couch. He asked if she could sing and she said no. Of course that was part of the plan, because he had a ridiculously looking “singing mask” for her to wear. They sang ‘Something stupid’ and the “Singing mask” could not sing at all. Robbie made faces during the performance, it was all just for show, but I still felt a little sorry or my namesake. Afterwards she got a big hug though and a picture too. She had left her phone with her friend, but Robbie walked her over there, took the phone and posed for a few selfies with her. <3 The things one would do to sit on a couch with Robbie and be hugged by him afterwards (or not, I would not want to be on that stage for the life of me). 😀

‘Rudebox’ was next and to my surprise I enjoyed it. Never thought that song could be fun. “You’ll be Kylie Minougue and I’ll be Robbie Williams” led to a great version of ‘Kids’. “This song is 20 years old,” he told us, “I warote it when I was three.” 😀 Robbie talked about watching his father perform when he was a kid and then called him on stage to perform with him. They sat comfortably on a couch and sang Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ all the while smiling at each other. It was really sweet. <3

Now it was time to talk about his son, Charlie and we heard a story about him learning “to talk like daddy” and how they were driving quietly and suddenly Charlie said “look at all those fucking trees”. * laughter * “You can’t say ‘fucking’, that’s only 20 trees, you need at least 60 or 70 to say ‘fucking'” * more laughter*. “I wrote this song for him, it is called ‘Motherfucker'”. I had forgotten about this song, because I did not listen to the album much, but it worked really well live. Loved it!

The main set ended with ‘Feel’, which again brought tears to my eyes and a powerful version of ‘Rock DJ’. Somewhere along the line there were more confetti too. 😀 Robbie walked off and the crowd erupted into cheers. It was deafening! It did not take him long to come back and he sang a bit of the White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ before asking us if we knew this song and starting ‘Strong. Of course we did, but this night we were going to change the lyrics. I had heard it had first happened at the ‘One Love Manchester’ concert for the victims of the attack on Ariana Grande’s concert. We practiced a few times and the lyrics were shown on the screens as well. “You know that we’re strong, we’re strong, we’re strong. We’re still singing our songs, our songs, our songs.” I do believe I was not the only one who was moved to tears. In fact Robbie looked very moved as well. <3

All the lights went out and green laser beams lit up the arena, while Robbie was sitting in a chair that was surrounded by what I can best describe as bars/poles of lights. It looked beautiful. As he started singing ‘Angels’, everyone in the room sang along and even before he got up and asked us to do it, many people got out their phones and switched on the lights, waving them about. In front of me was a woman that held up a lighter (you go girl!). The entire arena was a sea of tiny lights. Gorgeous. :’)

Final song of the night was Frank Sinatra’s ‘My way’. Robbie changed a line to “Tits, I’ve signed a few, but then again, too few to mention” 😀 and when the song was over walked back from the catwalk to the main stage where he took a final bow with his band and dancers. We screamed so much that he stayed a little and led us in another sing along to the choruses of ‘Strong’ and then ‘Angels’. While we were still singing, he slowly walked out. It was the perfect end to a perfect show and for the umpteenth time that night I wondered how I could have forgotten how much fun a Robbie Williams concert is. I so wanted another one! Thank you Robbie!

Slightly dazed I said goodbye to my companions around me and walked out into the night, still smiling. Kudos to the arena staff who made sure everyone got out quickly. I cannot remember the last time I have seen such a well organized exit after the concert. Even better: public transport worked flawlessly with subways arriving pretty much every minute. Kudos to Rheinbahn for that. On the way to the main train station I happily chatted with a family, who had loved the concert just as much as we did. Even getting home was a breeze and I can only repeat myself: Every concert should be like this!

Setlist

God Bless Our Robbie (to the tune of “Land of Hope and Glory”)
The Heavy Entertainment Show
Let Me Entertain You
Monsoon
Party Like a Russian
Back for Good (Take That song)
The Flood (Take That song)
Freedom 90 (George Michael cover)
Love My Life
a cappella medley: Livin’ on a Prayer (Bon Jovi) / Rehab (Amy Winehouse) / The Best (Tina Turner) / Kiss (Prince) / U Can’t Touch This (MC Hammer) / Don’t You Want Me (Mandy Smith) / Stayin’ Alive (Bee Gees) / She’s the One /  Here Comes the Hotstepper (Kamoze)  / Candy /  You’re the One That I Want (Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta) / Back for Good (Take That) / Come Undone
Come Undone (with “Never Forget” outro)
Somethin’ Stupid (Carson and Gaile cover) (with woman from the audience)
Rudebox
Kids
Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond cover) (with Robbie’s dad)
Motherfucker (with “Hey Jude” outro)
Feel
Rock DJ

Encore:
Seven Nation Army (The White Stripes cover) (snippet)
Strong (modified lyrics)
Angels
My Way (Claude François cover) (acoustic)

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