The stage was bathed in red light and huge letters spelled out "Hello Bonn." Then the anxious question, "Am I still your son?" appeared. And the sentence, "I want to contact the living" gave the impression that Robbie Williams wanted to know after all these years whether people still like him, whether there are still people out there — outside his universe.
Once he stepped onstage, it became perfectly clear: Yes, he is still "our son" and yes, there were many people out here to see him. And then Robbie kicked into — what else? — "Let Me Entertain You." After the first few bars, everyone realized that it could be a really good evening. There was a lot happening onstage, with the musicians, background singers and dancers moving around, all in high spirits.
Robbie, in the middle, is of course the master of ceremonies — with grand gestures and impressive facial expressions. An entertainer through and through, he repeatedly assured everyone that that was what he was here to do. But he didn't need to: All of the 25,000 people who attended his concert at Bonn's Hofgartenwiese on August 30 could clearly see that the man still has it.
Throwing up backstage
Three days earlier, Robbie Williams had played in Munich in front of 90,000 fans. During a ballad, he had to quickly take a break and throw up backstage; rumor has it that he had chewed too much nicotine gum.
There was also some prior controversy as the concert organizer had withdrawn the accreditation of some press representatives because the latter had criticized the organizer's handling of a previous concert by another artist there.
The criticism in Munich was not unjustified. Of the 90,000 in the audience, almost a third of the crowd were not even able to actually see the concert onstage, which had prompted Robbie to quip that he could expose his genitals onstage and no one at the back would see it.
Joking around and a bit of cuddling
But the pop star didn't have to crack such jokes at the concert in Bonn since, with 25,000 spectators, it was a comparatively smaller gig. He even got cozy with birthday girl Anna from the audience, whom he invited up onstage. Sitting on a sofa together, he first serenaded her with "Happy Birthday," followed by the love song "Somethin' Stupid." An unforgettable birthday for Anna for sure!
The concert also featured Guy Chambers, who collaborated on Robbie's initial successful albums, but with whom the megastar later had a falling out. In Bonn, they were reunited onstage, where they didn't miss the opportunity to play the ballad "Eternity" together. At the end of the song, Robbie said, almost in amazement, how beautiful it was — as if he had just rediscovered it.
And then he revealed that 21 years ago, he had dedicated a song to the city of Bonn and sang the chorus of "Road to Mandalay." Instead of "Bam Bam," he sang "Bonn Bonn Bonn" — a corny joke that thrilled the audience.
Robbie and his 'Monkey'
In 1997, a year after the boy band "Take That" broke up, Robbie Williams launched his career as a solo singer. His debut album "Life Thru a Lens" included the ballad "Angels," which catapulted him to pop stardom. He became one of the most successful British pop singers, with nearly 80 million albums sold and 14 number one hits.
The star has gone through highs and lows, with the British tabloids doggedly reporting on his drug and alcohol addiction.
He still remains open about his addictions, expressing that he is a sober alcoholic who suffers from several mental disorders. He also addressed his drug problem in his song "Me And My Monkey" in 2002.
At that time, he was at the peak of his solo career, and had already proven with his album "Swing When You're Winning" that he had what it takes to be a true entertainer, much in the fashion of Frank Sinatra. Williams, however, was not even 30 at the time.
Now 48, he has been married to actress Ayda Field since 2010 and has four children.
New album in September
On September 9, Robbie Williams' new album "XXV" will be released. This greatest hits album is a retrospective of his 25-year solo career, and includes new orchestral arrangements of classics like "Let Me Entertain You," "Millenium," "No Regrets," "Kids" (a duet with Kylie Minogue), "Rock DJ," "The Road To Mandalay," "Feel," "Come Undone," and of course "Angels". The album also boasts new songs, including "Lost" which he performed on August 30 in Bonn. It's a solid pop number, as you'd expect from him, and it's best experienced live.