Robbie Williams at Yarkon Park (Photo: Nir Yahav)
Entertainment is a profession and Robbie Williams is a professional. Give him an hour and a half and he will make you happy, laugh, dance, excited, cry, and leave feeling like you've spent the best time of your life with him and his songs. But last night's performance at Yarkon Park was much more than an excellent entertainment and music show by an experienced international pop star, who gives the audience his all. It was a night when Robbie Williams managed to get under the skin of the Israeli audience and become one of ours. Make love to us and conquer us, moment by moment, song after song, link piece after link piece.
As the show progressed, the intimate closeness between him and the tens of thousands who filled the park grew, until it seemed that we were all sitting in his living room and in front of the psychologist's couch on which he was undergoing therapy. At the end of the show, when he talked about how much he found Israel as a special place for him, how much he found peace here, which he did not find anywhere else, and how connected he felt to us, as someone who is married to a Jewish woman and his children are Jewish, the feeling was that he was assimilated into us, that in a moment he was doing Tarantino and moving here, as a candidate to carry a torch on the upcoming Independence Day.
Light a beacon? Robbie Williams (Photo: Eclipse media)
Williams turns 50 this February, and although he hasn't produced a truly significant hit in recent years, he's still one of the biggest pop stars in the world, largely due to his abilities as a performer, providing audiences with an immersive show with the best hits. He came to have fun on stage, love his audience and give an hour and a half of good time, celebrating being Robbie Williams. Wearing a gold shirt that gave him the look of a Golden Gad, accompanied by an excellent band, which includes a brass section, great backup singers and six dancers, he knew how to pamper the fans, although in this show he omitted "Millennium", which was supposed to be performed, forgot about the existence of "Eternity" and it can be assumed that guest Noga Erez, who was weak in "Kids", was less suited to "Somethin' Stupid". In their place came Oasis covers ("Don't look back in anger"), Chris Kenner ("Land of 1000 dances") and, of course, parent band Take D'Ath.
But these are really peanuts, because most of Williams' magic in this show was the direct connection he created with the audience in the link between the songs, in which he talked about his personal life and career full of sex, drugs, scandals and paparazzi, went down to the grass to touch fans, talked about his connection with Israel and tried to learn Hebrew words ("How do you say 'sex' in Hebrew?" Sex'? Come on!"; " How do you say scandal in Hebrew? 'Scandal'? Come on!"). At one point, he "adopted" a top-notch fan named Shimon, whose face starred on the screens for many minutes, conducted lengthy dialogues with him and dedicated a personal greeting to his son. He dedicated "She's the One" to a fan named Shiri, whom he also briefly became a star.
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Self-humor. Williams (Photo: Eclipse media)
Aware of his age and status, he seasoned the show with huge amounts of self-deprecating humor. "I'm Robbie Williams, and this is my ass," he shot right from the start. Mocking his age — even though physically he looked great — when a song was delayed because it needed to take a breather, he shouted at the audience: "I have late COVID symptoms, it's not my age,." With the same self-deprecating humor, he talked about his membership in the boy band Take D'Ath, including their debut video, which was carefully analyzed, with a stop on his naked, young buttocks ("Today he doesn't look like that anymore"). And he did not forget to laugh at the promises he made to himself in life - "I decided that I would never marry or have children, and I was married plus four."
These link segments kept the audience in the relative "belly" formed in the middle of the show, among the biggest hits. They were so dominant that at moments it seemed like a TV talk show or a master class session. The Cringey moment was recorded as Williams used "Candy" to throw rolled shirts out of an Oprah Winfrey and Uncle Topaz bucket to the crowd. It was evident that he was trying hard to please and be loved in every way possible, and it worked for him, because apart from a marriage proposal on stage, we saw everything last night. The climax came when he listed the series of illnesses and mental syndromes he suffered from over the years, and put even more pressure on the emotional glands, thanking his family and the audience for being with him during the most difficult moments of his life, when he thought he would end them too soon.
Session on the psychologist's couch. Williams (Photo: Eclipse media)
The devil's advocate, cynical and heartless, would say that Williams is an emotional master-manipulator and super-flatterer, who bought the tens of thousands last night with a long line of overflowing licks and emotional engineering, after all, he is an entertainment professional, but those who attended the park last night believed him every word, from the moment he said at the beginning that the key to success in entertainment is to love your audience. He showed last night how much he truly loves his Israeli audience and how grateful he is for all his years of support.
In every way, it was a much better performance than the one he gave in the park eight years ago. Not that the previous one wasn't good, but that Williams outdid himself. You could say it was the best pop show Yarkon Park has known since Jennifer Lopez four years ago, just as good as Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga back in 2014.
The best pop show in years. Robbie Williams (Photo: Eclipse media)
As I left the park, with Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes' "Time of my Life" playing from the "Corrupt Dance" soundtrack, someone said to me: "I thought of us, the Israelis, we are a conflicted and divided people, and this British man came and offered us a deal of love for love. He showed us that he was just like us, flawed and human, saw the good in us, and I believed him so much, I had a great time." She's not the only one.
- Robbie Williams