Robbie Williams made a triumphant live comeback in London last night (Oct. 21), as part of the BBC's Electric Proms series of concerts.
Appearing at the London Roundhouse with a 38-piece band, including string and brass sections -- led by Trevor Horn, who produced Williams' new album "Reality Killed the Video Star" -- Williams was in confident, relaxed form from the start. He made his entrance down a white staircase to current single "Bodies," which entered the U.K. charts at No. 2 on Oct. 18.
Despite it being his first full gig since 2006, Williams' displayed few signs of the nerves that affected his now notorious performance on ITV1's "The X Factor." Williams made reference to that wide-eyed appearance when, after a rapturous reception for the first song, he told the audience: "You nearly made me cry then. But then I realized this wasn't 'The X Factor.'"
In total, Williams premiered seven songs from the new album, due Nov. 9 in the United Kingdom on Virgin Records. As well as "Bodies," he aired what he said would be the album's second single, "You Know Me," alongside "Morning Sun," "Blasphemy," "Starstruck," "Deceptacon" and "Won't Do That." Most of the new material harks back to Williams' trademark adult pop sound, with little of the experimentation that marked his last album "Rudebox," which proved a critical and commercial flop.
Songs from "Rudebox" were notable by their absence from the setlist, but he did perform tracks from most parts of his career, including "Come Undone," "Feel," "I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen," "Supreme" and "No Regrets." Having finished the main set with his classic single "Angels," he returned for an encore of "Millennium" and a frantic cover version of "Video Killed the Radio Star," originally by Horn's former act Buggles.
Williams' traditional showmanship was also much in evidence, as he regaled the audience with anecdotes, jokes and even a George Michael impression. At one point, he announced "Feel" as "My auntie's favorite song. I'm sure she's looking down on me now... she's not dead, she's just really condescending!"
The concert was broadcast live on U.K. top 40 network BBC Radio 1, while highlights aired on BBC2 television later in the evening and are also available via the BBC's "red button" service. The concert was also beamed to more than 250 cinemas across 23 countries by BBC Worldwide, setting a Guinness World Record for the most simultaneous cinematic screenings of a live concert.