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Review: Robbie Williams at the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

A suited and booted Robbie Williams returned to Metro Radio Arena for the first time in 14 years to prove he still had us in the palm of his hand

*****

It had been 14 years since Robbie Williams last played a solo gig on Tyneside.

In that time many of us - Robbie included - have enjoyed big changes.

But as the 40-year-old prepares for the birth of his second child with wife Ayda, it was gratifying to see some things do stay the same.

When it comes to all-round entertainment and all-out showmanship, Robbie Williams remains a huge force to be reckoned with.

The now part-time Take Thatter was in wonderful form at the Metro Radio Arena last night - albeit in a different guise than we’re used to.

Arriving following a filmic overture to a theatrical backdrop, Robbie was suited, booted and ready to swing.

His current world tour, Swings Both Ways comes with a very different breed of bells and whistles than fans have come to expect over a quarter of a century in his company.

Sweeping staircases, a big band and a tap dancing troupe were all part of the old-style glamour theme... which had a very dapper and polished Robert P Williams out front, singing a setlist featuring both classics and original swing tracks from his latest long player and 2001’s Swing When You’re Winning.

Having admitted this new style of performance had been “exhilarating, terrifying and gratifying in equal measure” there was only utter joy - with a side of playful banter of course - on display last night.

A first half included assured-yet-suitably-cheeky performances of tracks Puttin on the Ritz, Ain’t That A Kick In The Head, Swing Supreme (a ‘grown up version’ of Love Supreme), Mr Bojangles, I Wanna Be Like You, a showbiz wedding to crowd member Vicky and a singing slot for some Newcastle youngsters too.

The second half did everything to keep us smiling with a memorable Trouble/Hit The Road Jack/Reet Petite/Shout/If I Only Had a Brain mash-up.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Robbie gig without some pop classics, and so he treated us to a melting pot medley of his hits Let Me Entertain You, Rock DJ, Millennium, Come Undone, Old Before I Die and Candy before leading is into a triple-pronged finale featuring My Way, Angels and Sensational. The last of which offers the perfect recap.

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