Robbie Williams at The O2 Dublin on September 14th 2012

No production, no gimmicks, no massive light shows or riggings to add to the spectacle that normally would accompany any Robbie Williams show in stadiums and parks all over the world. 40 odd chart singles to choose from would make most artists green with envy. This man could do no wrong as long as nothing on the setlist was from Rudebox.

A gig for charity, repaying a comment to play a free gig after an issue riddled show in 2006. UNICEF and Childline the beneficiaries, which Robbie states “We raised a shit load of cash for them”. He is joined onstage with just his band, joking “There’s no big production, it’s just me, and you!”. The show races off with Let Me Entertain You, Old Before I Die and Should I Stay Or Should I Go (Clash cover) as he explains his precarious paternal situation, with Ayda well overdue and a special phone in his pocket that if it rings, he has to decide if he stays or goes.

Robbies vocals tonight are really on the money, I have never thought him to be the strongest vocalist, infact I have always considered him more entertainer than singer but tonight we got the best of both worlds. Flawless in his execution of the vocally more difficult Come Undone, She’s The One, Road To Mandalay and getting The O2 jumping for the likes of Rock DJ, Monsoon, Hot Fudge and Kids, the party was in full flow with a set-list filled with crackers.

New single Candy received a tepid response as new songs tend to do, but Robbie assures us “It’ll grow on you, I promise”.  Despite his mind perhaps being on family matters, Robbie was still in great humour, posing for the crowds and cameras, engaging the revellers from all over the world who flew in for this gig – mocking one for wearing unofficial merchandise saying she looked shit, before providing her with two official tee shirts – and taking some prawn cocktail pringles and a bag of minstrels from the crowd, “A breakfast of champions” he said. A sign in the crowd saying “Robbie you rock, show us your….” grabs Robbie’s attention too as he pretends to unzip for the crowd before stating “It might not be big but it fills a pram”.

An encore that rattles off 90s’ hit Life Thru A Lens and his biggest hit Angels, which as expected is sung verbatim by the adoring crowd before finishing with one last ballad, a promising track called Losers, sang with his female accompaniment. Robbie leaves us by singing a line of Angels and walks off stage with the band as the crowd sing him off stage.

It could have easily gone wrong this show. A man known for his entertaining ways and massive stage production, cutting his show back as raw as it can get and giving Dublin more than just a showpiece. It however didn’t go wrong. It was a classy reminder that not only is Robbie still the enthralling entertainer he always was, – even if the intensity of his shows has dropped a mark over the years (let’s not begrudge the man getting older) – but it proved once again that he is probably one of the great entertainers of our time, born to be on a stage and exuding the confidence and energy of a man half his age even at this stage of life and career.

From now on all his dancing with officially be ‘dad dancing’, but if the end result is a show as fun to sing, dance and enjoy as the one witnessed by 15,000 lucky people in The O2, Dublin last night, then long may he dad dance, because it will mean he is still out there bringing one of pop’s great back catalogs, mixed with possibly the worlds best entertainer to stages worldwide.

Robbie Williams at The O2 Dublin Setlist

Let Me Entertain You
Should I Stay or Should I Go? (The Clash cover)
Let Love Be Your Energy
Lazy Days
Karma Killer
Old Before I Die
Rock DJ
The Road to Mandalay
Come Undone
She’s the One
Hot Fudge

Life Thru a Lens

Robbie Williams Photo Gallery

Photos by Aidan Cuffe

Robbie Williams – Losers