Review: Robbie Williams @ London Astoria

By Pure Robbie member RW22

October 1st 2007 marks the second anniversary of Robbie Williams' appearance at the London Astoria in one of three warm-up gigs for the show at Berlin's Velodrom to promote his new album Intensive Care.

The only way to get tickets for the Astoria show, announced at very short notice just four days before, was to queue outside the theatre in person when they went on sale at 9am on September 30th. For me this meant getting up in the early hours of the morning and travelling by train to London. I joined the queue before 6am on a chilly, damp morning behind over a hundred people who had camped out overnight, some in small tents and sleeping bags. Time passed quickly and the excitement rose as, at the appointed time, the queue began to move - for just £30 I had a precious ticket, one of less than two thousand on sale and a wristband which had to be kept on for admission the next day.

So home I went and back again the following afternoon to join another queue. As time passed we could hear the band warming up inside - the instrumental to Tripping was booming out and the queue began to sing along as the excitement mounted. Entering the theatre everyone was delighted to see what a small venue it was - the anticipation of seeing Rob perform in such an intimate setting was so great. I was just three rows back, a matter of feet from the microphone stood in the centre of the stage. The wait seemed to go on for ever - we were treated to club music from the Astoria's own DJs, very loud and for me , very different. Eventually they left and the atmosphere began to build. We had been waiting inside now for over 2 hours, and the chanting of Robbie's name and stamping of feet began, louder and louder, willing him to appear and then suddenly there he was, walking on stage looking gorgeous of course. The noise was absolutely deafening - I've never heard anything like it.

Rob stood at the mike, the band ( all the regulars!) struck the first chord and he sang ' Here I stand victorious, the only man to make you come' What an opening line - simply breathtaking! And it was the beginning of a stunning set list - the same as he would perform at Berlin the following week. It was a great mixture of old and new - a lot of old favourites to sing along to but the thrill of hearing the new material for the very first time was just extraordinary. The songs were instantly likeable, performed to perfection in Rob's inimitable way - particular highlights for me personally were Spread Your Wings, Trouble With Me and Advertising Space. I found the performance of Angels in the middle of the set a little bizarre but ending with Make me Pure was wonderful, Rob sitting on a stool, making a recording for the man in the audience who had been first in the queue for tickets. He had the words in his hand, obviously still not up to speed with the lyrics but of course he pulled it off!

It really was a privilege to see Rob in such a small venue - he sang, he chatted, he cracked jokes - the sense that he was talking or singing just to me for which he is so well known, was greater than ever. On the Road to Berlin TV documentary which featured a few clips from the Astoria, Rob comments how he did not really enjoy that show but you would never have known. He was the professional as always, performing his new songs of which he was obviously proud with style and charming the audience as always.

I find it sad that performing in Britain seems to have this effect on him - he seems to feel the pressure in his home country more than elsewhere but I hope he realised how much we lucky few enjoyed ourselves, how special it was to get so up close and personal and hear him talk about and perform his new album. Intensive Care is my favourite album and I think it will remain so because I heard most of the tracks for the first time sung by Rob just a few feet from me and nothing really compares to that.

I hope he will consider promoting future albums in a similar way, and indeed perform in small venues like the Astoria more often. The big stadium shows are wonderful in their own way - spectacular and exciting - but the intimacy of that show at the Astoria was truly something special. It was a night to remember...........

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