It has been 14 years since Robbie Williams played a solo gig on Tyneside.
And the now 40-year-old entertainer is determined to make this weekend’s gigs great... despite suffering from a bad back.
A punishing touring schedule, together with the wear and tear of getting older, forced the pop superstar, who last performed in the region as part of a reunited Take That at the Stadium of Light in 2011, to sit out of his beloved Soccer Aid match last a couple of weeks ago - a clear sign of his commitment to the show going on for his fans.
Speaking at the time, he said: “I’ve got two discs rubbing together on my back. My body is going: ‘You’re 40, and this is what’s happening’.
“I can’t get the insurance to play because I’m in the middle of a tour – if I do the back in out on the pitch, the tour goes kaput.
“When you were 18/19 you didn’t care, and you were going to do it anyway you say: ‘I’m never going to get old.’
“Well, I’m there now. My body is knackered.”
This week on his blog, following a storming performance in Manchester, Robbie said his back was giving him problems and revealed the day after his gig in Belfast, the pain was so bad that he had taken to his bed, with his back muscles ‘completely spasming... like tooth ache under my shoulder blades... nice!’
Blaming the pain on the ‘joys of getting older’ Robbie, who is expecting his second child with wife Ayda later this year, reckons ‘these things are sent to test us’ but went on to assure everyone: ‘the show must go on... and it will.”
Robbie brings his Swings Both Ways tour to the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle on Sunday and Monday. The world tour, which began in April and runs through to September, is supporting his 10th studio album, Swings Both Ways.
Those going along should expect a swing-dominated melting pot of music including renditions of Putting on the Ritz, I Wanna Be Like You, Mr Bojangles, My Way and Empire State of Mind, as well as some back catalogue classics such as Let Me Entertain You and, of course the obligatory Angels.
Tickets are still available for the concerts. Call 0844 493 6666 or visit www.metroradioarena.co.uk to book.