First of all - Robbie Williams is a super performer. A weak evening here or there, nothing will change the fact that he is one of the most charismatic and charmer pop stars to have flourished on the British music scene over the past two decades. Are there younger and more relevant than him? Obviously. Do they tickle his performance and performance abilities? Not. Unequivocally.
Robbie Williams is an entertainer in the classic sense of the word. In Las Vegas terms. He is talkative, flirty, a man of words and a musician who believes more in the power of communicating with an audience than in the quality of performance. This is also the essence of his current tour, which is radically different from the one he stopped here in 2015. Eight years later, Robbie Williams arrived in Israel as his ultimate entertainer, for better or worse.
Robbie Williams at Yarkon Park // Moshe Ben-Simhon
For worse - because quite a few of those present at Yarkon Park last night (Thursday) may have come to hear other songs. Some, such as "Millennium," were part of the original setlist, but were omitted in favor of entire monologues about his professional path, personal development, and encounter.
Yes, it was interesting and intriguing to hear one of the most complex pop stars in history come to terms with being a boy band veteran, a lover of drugs, alcohol and scandals. And the revealing confessions (though often made up in the performances of the current tour) interested the park-goers. But in choosing between long confessions and hits that weren't performed last night, it seems that most of the audience would prefer option B.
It's not that there weren't hits, at Williams' second show in Israel. "Let Me Entertain You" is probably the best opening song in the history of the live show; "She's The One," a favorite of the Israeli audience, broke out towards the end of the evening; "Angels" concluded the show as requested, and "Kids", featuring Noga Erez, originally Robbie's duet with Kylie Minogue, was a highlight.
Robbie Williams with Noga Erez, photo: Coco
But in the middle there was a lot of lyrics and songs that devout fans knew well, such as "Come Undone", "Candy" and a cover of Take That in the form of "The Flood", but the local and casual audience was less familiar - and responded accordingly.
Robbie Williams' second appearance in Israel was a complex story. On the one hand, it was refreshing to watch a pop star enter his sixth decade a few months ago, coming to terms with demons from his past, adopting them and exposing them for all to see (let's say the choice to show the first clip of Take That, which he describes as a "gay sinner" on screens). The Robbie of 2003, of the years of prosperity, professional explosion and escape from sources, would not have dared to do so.
The ultimate entertainer. Williams at Yarkon Park, Photo: Coco
On the other hand, when it comes to choosing songs that will lift and dance the Israeli audience, which is very specific in taste, it is clear that something was missed. Williams, for his part, remains the spectacular entertainer he has always been. He communicates with those who came to see him, exudes quantities of grace, reveals personal details about him and gives everyone a seemingly rare, but in fact controlled, glimpse into the intricacies of his personality.
In terms of communication with an audience, this is a complete victory: is it a laugh at the level of performance, audience satisfaction and involvement? Probably not. But damn, it's so successful, it doesn't really matter. To sum up, Robbie Williams' performance in Israel in 2023 wasn't particularly spectacular. But it was definitely fun.
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