Thrilling the fräuleins
Maie Crumpton lets Robbie Williams entertain her in Prague
Robbie Williams’ popularity in Prague, however, remains a far cry from the English leg of this tour, where he attracted crowds of over 125,000 a night over a three-day period, bringing London and the South of England to a standstill. Fans abandoned their cars and still missed the gig as, predictably, the British infrastructure failed to cope.
There was little evidence, however, of a huge Czech fanbase. Public transport was completely unaffected, save a broken-down truck near the ground, and Vltavská station remained, for the most part, empty.
This was more to do with the fact that, a week after they went on sale, many locals couldn’t even get tickets. Instead huge German and English companies purchased swathes of them to sell off as package coach deals. Surely it negates the whole logic of playing in Prague?
"To je škoda" for the Czechs, who missed out on probably one of the best examples of commercial showmanship to ever hit the Czech Republic. Give it up Mick Jagger – you’re getting old.
Support came from Skin, of Skunk Anansie fame, whose voice was as strong as the hairspray in her Grace Jones-meets-Toni & Guy hairdo. Most tracks came from her new album Fleshwounds. She finished with Skunk’s singular chart topper Weak for those who probably couldn’t quite remember where they’d seen her before.
Robbie, as always, opened to Let Me Entertain You, wooing the crowd by grabbing a member of the audience for a dance and a bit of tongue-on-tongue action, before demanding his tongue back and questioning her sex.
There was also a live marriage proposal from a gentleman harangued by Robbie into proposing live to his "flipping gorgeous" girlfriend. The girlfriend looked slightly crestfallen at the prospect, but who said that true love runs smoothly?
I’m not a particular fan of Brit pop, nor do I actually know many of the tattooed one's songs, but you have to admire the fact that a) Robbie can sing, b) he can certainly get a crowd going and c) he isn’t optically displeasing.
There was much laughing and cooing throughout as he described the inspiration behind many of his tracks and generally joked with the starry eyed crowd.
Favorites from the Escapology, Life Thru a Lens and Sing When You’re Winning albums were all in evidence. Interestingly Mr. Williams has learned to strum a guitar during his long periods of abstinence from drink and drugs (well, he’s got nothing better to do), performing several popular acoustic solo numbers including Nan's Song and Better Man to rapturous applause. He also appeared to have developed a talent for playing the piano with various parts of his anatomy, much to the delight of the crowd.
A singalong karaoke session to Strong seemed to go down well with the fräuleins, as did the appearance of drool worthy actor Max Beasley as Williams’ surprisingly talented jazz pianist.
Monkey, often presumed to be about the evils of drugs, was performed to an accompanying video of a chimp playing with a gun - despite vocal protests from animal rights activists earlier in the tour. But then they’ll moan about anything.
Finishing with the song Robbie freely admits "made it all possible", Angel, there can’t have been many who were bussed back to the Fatherland disappointed. Despite having to cancel his American tour dates the man is bound to die a legend – even if it is only on his own soggy isle and in the land that worships David Hasselhoff.
Let me entertain you? Anytime, mate.
April 25th, 2006
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