6 THE LIST 2-9 Aug 2001

When it comes to perfect pop, ROBBIE WILLIAMS is the ultimate craftsman, and live, he gives exactly what they want.

Words: Henry Northmore

K. OK. so Robbie‘s last few musical efforts have not been some of his greatest. But admit it you

know the words to '.-\ngels‘. even if you never

dreamed of buying a Robbie album. single or anything he‘s ever endorsed. And come on: let .\lc lintertain You‘ is the greatest pop moment of the decade. I defy you not to admire his cheek in the accompanying video. prancing around in full Kiss make-up giving it large. Now that‘s rock ‘n' roll.

But the music is such a small part of what makes Robbie Robbie. His image is bigger than any tune he‘s ever sung. liscaping from boy band hell in Take That. he's the only member who went onto superstar status. The rest are all languishing in the Where Are They Now file. And yes. that includes you Gary Barlow.

For God‘s sake. he‘s so famous he doesn‘t even need

Oh no, he’s not. He’s an over-hyped product of a cynical music biz. Words: Louisa Pearson

nothing. I camped out the night before.‘

Sickening. isn't it‘.’ Your friends. the people you respect and care about. lose all functioning brain cells when Stoke's favourite son decides to make a pit stop at Hampden. ‘Rooobbbbieee.’ you hear them simper like Stepford Wives. ‘Rooobbbbbiiiieeel‘

I spent ten hours on hold to get the tickets.' 'That's

And what an alarming state of affairs it is when half

the population declares undying devotion to Robbie Williams. Why alarming? Because the man has less talent than a packet of Supernoodles.

‘But he has top ten hits and sells out stadiums and appears on the pages of Heat every week.‘ I hear you cry. Indeed he does. I don't know who his publicist is. but that‘s the person who deserves the acclaim. what other pop star manages without fail to get himself featured in the gossip pages with such regularity? Whether it‘s Robbie leaving/getting kicked out of Take That; checking into rehab: fighting with Liam: splitting up with Nicole or doing ‘yoga‘ with Geri. the man’s had more spin than Schumacher‘s wheels. Although no

to Use his surname anymore. (iirls want him. boys wanna be him. .lust imagine: the money. the fame. the looks. And of course there‘s the women: (‘orrs. All Saints. Spice (iirls. the list goes on and on. He even made time »— well who wouldn’t'.’ for a cheeky duet with our Kylie on ‘Kids‘. another perfect pop hit.

But it's in the live arena where he really comes to life. He‘s an all-round entertainer packed with energy. feedng off the audience's excitement. A consummate showman. part rock star. part comedian. he knows how to work a crowd. He knows what the fans want and that‘s what he delivers. with plenty of oomph. lle’s happy to take the piss out of his earlier. less credible days with his obligatory punk smash up of ‘Back For Good. And has even added a cover of Limp Bi/kit's ‘Rollin' to recent live shows jtist to keep things fresh.

(‘ome on. this is a man who gets his whole band to pray to the spirit of lilvis before each show. Now that's cool. No wonder the tickets to these concerts sold out within four hours.

He’s the Tom Jones of our generation with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. He doesn't ask to be taken seriously and we shouldn‘t do so. lt‘sjttst pop music. and it's something he does with bags of style and panache.

surveys have been commissioned. l‘ll wager his ratio of good musical output to good PR is about l:l().

Publicity is Robbie’s substitute for talent. You can see the same thing with Lil, 'I‘aylor. Patsy Kensit and the rest of the Hello regulars. They might have had a bit of talent once. but have long since morphed into being ‘personalities‘ instead: perfectly groomed tabloid fodder.

And why is Robbie heading down this road'.’ He has no choice. All through his ‘career’ he‘s been trying to be someone else: the new lireddie Mercury. the new Tom Jones and now the new Frank Sinatra. Sadly. he‘s missing the point that you can't fake star quality. Sure the boy can dance and sing a bit. but so can the Redcoats who populate Butlin‘s. And that‘s where he belongs.

Truly the son of a working men‘s club singer. give him another ten years and once the youthful good looks have faded he‘ll be doing the circuit himself. By that time his fans‘ll be saddled with kids called Kylie and Robbie. trying to remember where they got the idea for the names from. '()h yes.‘ they‘ll say. ‘it was because of that bloke who sang ’Angels'. You know. the one they Use on that washing-up liquid advert. Wonder where he is now'."

Robbie Mlliams plays Hampden Park, Glasgow, Fri 3 8: Sat 4 Aug.