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Culture Reviews
Robbie rocks Moscow with his music and charm
Olimpiisky Sports Complex 
By Robert Jon Lees
Robbie Williams lived up to his reputation as Britain’s most exciting pop star as he wowed Moscow’s cavernous Olympiisky stadium with a blistering set few will forget in a hurry.

In his first Russian concert Williams mixed rock anthems and romantic ballads together with an engaging and cheeky wit to provide a spectacle that was lapped up by the adoring Moscow public.

The near-capacity crowd, already delirious with anticipation, erupted as Williams emerged, hooded like the grim reaper, and blasted straight into the appropriately named “Let me entertain you”.

The powerful sound system was barely audible over the cacophonic din of thousands of screaming fans. The army of old women checking tickets and police in fur hats struggled to keep the mainly teenaged girls in their seats and prevent them from rushing to the front.

The atmosphere calmed slightly when Williams plucked one lucky girl from the crowd and serenaded her with the love song “Come Undone”. There was more audience participation later when he taught the crowd the lyrics to his ballad “Strong” and then invited them to join in singing it.

With his devilish good looks, playful manner, and a few well-rehearsed Russian phrases, the former member of boy band ‘Take That’ quickly managed to charm even the most grim-faced spectator. The fact that the crowd knew the music well and that Williams played the biggest hits from his last three albums certainly helped.

He basked in the crowd’s reaction and showed his appreciation with plenty of the slap-stick humour with which he has become synonymous. His attempt to devote a love song to a couple in the audience failed comically when he was unable to pronounce their Russian names. Much to both his and crowd’s delight he dedicated the song to "Alex and Urghhhh".

After an impromptu duet with his dad Pete, who he invited onto the stage, and a little-known acoustic number dedicated to his late grandma, the hall began to shake to a thunderous rendition of “Supreme”.

Old and young alike enthusiastically sung along, swinging their hips and waving their arms. Even those perched on the frighteningly high third tier could not resist the infectious desire to dance.

The show ended with a rousing encore of two of his most popular hits. Rock DJ really did rock. By the time the customary cigarette lighters appeared to accompany the romantic “Angels”, the usually cheerless Moscow police had long given up hope of suppressing anyone’s fun and a few of them could even be seen waving their batons in time to the music.

The energy and enthusiasm of Williams as he jumped ran and on one occasion Cossack danced across the stage was incredible. This really was more than a concert. He had pulled off arguably one of the most entertaining shows of the year without the help of a team of dancers and large television screens.

09.11.03
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