Time to go what we had come to Vienna for — one of music’s “superstars” and a once in a lifetime chance to see Robbie Williams perform live on his Take the Crown Tour. It was time to be entertained by the best in the business.
Time to go and see one of the stars my romantic heart had grown up with and with whom I had developed a connection. Robbie had owned a little piece of my heart from the Take That days and at times he sung the words I needed to hear with the voice of an Angel.
Our tickets cost 118 Euros for seats in the stadium –rather than the pit — cheap in comparison to the UK concerts which were our other main option.
Venue was Krieau Stadium, Vienna.
First thing to note here — Stadium is an elastic word — it can mean anything from Wembley Stadium in London and The Stadium of Light in Sunderland. Krieau Stadium in Vienna which has to be the WORST venue of any kind I have visited.
No it is not the wonderful stadium on the right in above image — it is the one on the left. Nowhere in any of the publicity material was it mentioned that this was an outdoor stadium with no roof — at least it was not raining. At the time it resembled a dog track — further research when I got home revealed it is a dirt track for horse buggy races.
The seating we paid a premium for was temporary and swayed and moved when everyone one was encouraged to stand up and dance — resulting in a constant feeling of sea sickness. Combine this with the diesel fumes from a generator underneath the seating lead to a sickening feeling for most of the concert.
The “stadium” had not been dampened down at all — resulting in the characteristics of a dust bowl and scenes reminiscent of the annual pilgrimages to Mecca as people entered the stadium.
The seats of course were filthy. We watched with some amusement as the female of a couple in front of us got out a series of wipes to clean her seat with before sitting down. Two of the first kind, then two of a second kind , then she decided the result was not good enough and she proceeded to retrieve an A4 plastic folder from her bag and sit on that.
She then went through the whole process again for her partners seat. What amazed me about this was she only did her seat, not the back of her seat which proceeded to leave a very grubby mark on her pristine white shirt!
The seats were not the only filthy component. The toilets were beyond disgusting. They were the standard port-a-loos without the benefit of any connection to water or any toilet paper what so ever. I would think that they in themselves came close to breaking public health statutes. Once again I was saved by a packet of tissues. The toilets unhygienic in the extreme and by the end of a very hot evening smelt abominable.
Security was draconian. My camera — a Fuji Finepix S9600 — was confiscated on entry as it was considered a professional camera and in order to prevent me from taking a picture of the event which I could then sell and to protect the image of Robbie Williams I was not allowed to take it into the concert. The security firm was unable to give me a copy of their insurance policy stating that confiscated cameras were insured.
Now IF I had been in the pit and IF I had timed it to a millisecond there is a one in a million chance I might have got a recognizable shot of Mr Williams. However as I was way back from the stage I did not have a chance in hell of catching anything other than the general atmosphere and if lucky some of the light show and maybe the fireworks at the end.
My emotional disconnect with Robbie Williams started here. Having no option to return to a car or even the hotel I had to give up my precious camera. There is a part of me that wonders if the taking of the camera was more about not being able to record the security companies failings to keep their crowd control barriers upright, the stairs clear of obstructions and the disgraceful state of the toilets rather than Robbie’s precious image.
Mr P gallantly tried to keep my mind off my camera — we bought T-shirts as we always do to commemorate the event and he bought me a black Robbie teddy bear to try and cheer me up. There was a wide range of merchandise on offer starting from 5 euros and climbing to over a 100 euros. There was no specific program for this concert — there was a 8 fold newspaper on every seat with details of the previous concert in Germany — which also gave the setlist for the tour, including the encore.
Drinks were expensive AND you had to give a Euros deposit for your plastic glass! I loathe plastic glasses and to pay a deposit added insult to injury. There were long queues for both food and drinks.
The audience was family orientated — there were a lot of children in the 8-14 age group who had dragged their parents along and there were also a lot of grannies and grandads too. A much broader age range than any other concert I had been to.
Still grumpy about my camera, I had a quick look at the set list:
Hey Wow Yeah Yeah
Let Me Entertain You
Not Like the Others
Minnie the Moocher – (Cab Calloway cover)
Kids – (with Olly Murs)
Sin Sin Sin
Be a Boy
Me and My Monkey
She’s the One
I felt I might recover my equilibrium after a good five or so minutes of Minnie the Moocher.
Olly Murs as a warm up act was neither here nor there — I do not know him as an artist — he did nothing that made me sit up and want to get to know him as an artist either.
It was by now obvious that everyone in the arena, bar me, had been allowed to take in their cameras — their smart phones with HD video capability recently released by Samsung were very much in evidence. I wonder if they were allowed through because Samsung sponsored the tour?
Time for Robbie — quite a spectacular entrance — shame there were no large screens for those at the back to see anything other than a speck descend from the heights of the stage. In fact, the lack of large screens at any of the concerts has been one of the major causes of complaint on this tour — Robbie and his precious image again?
The real shocker was his language — in particular the use of the “F” word, especially given the number of children at the concert. It was frequently used in his chat between songs and in the new songs in particular.
As you can see, there were an awful lot of cameras in the pit, including HD video cameras. In fact there were an awful lot of cameras everywhere — it was rather galling to sit and watch everyone taking photographs and creating memories around me.
Still not happy. Maybe Minnie the Moocher would do the trick — but sadly no — a pared down version of approximately three minutes does not cut the mustard.
The special effects were good — lighting and set were good — shame we could not see them or appreciate them to their fullest because of lack of large screens.
Robbie no longer has the voice of an Angel and seems to be struggling with his vocal range and his stamina. Maybe the rumors of a return to substance abuse are true and they are taking their toll.
To not even sing Angels on his own and then ask the audience to join in was for me the final insult — I did not go all that way to hear the audience sing that song — I went to hear that song sung by Robbie Williams.
Am I glad I went, yes, it will stop me from ever wasting my money to travel so far to see him again — it will also save me a lot of money in other ways — no more records, books, merchandise either. Sadly, it will also make me think twice about traveling so far to see a particular concert again. I will NEVER set foot in that stadium again, either.
Sorry, Robbie — to answer your constant ego feeding question “Are you with me?” The answer has to be “no” and probably “never will be” again.
Needless to say, we collected my camera and made our way back to the hotel — bumping into our friendly security man on the way — who was very dismayed to hear my card had been destroyed, and he expressed his wishes that we could still enjoy our time in his beloved city and who vowed to sort out the miscommunications that had occurred in his company.
To be honest at this time of night after the day we had endured we were past caring — however, tomorrow is always another day, and that was our last thought before we went to sleep.