There aren’t many modern artists that transcend generations and even fewer that have sold over 80 million albums globally. Robbie Williams is one of them. With a quarter of a century of stage time under his belt, the singer-songwriter’s live productions are synonymous with showmanship and technical creativity. This time around, Williams has set out his new manifesto. Gags make way for a stripped-back, 32-year musical journey featuring some of his greatest hits – reworked by Jules Buckley, Guy Chambers and Steve Sidwell, and re-recorded with the Netherlands’ Metropole Orkest – interspersed with anecdotes and brand-new tracks from his latest record, XXV.
Filtering past the hoards of Robbie Williams faithful camped outside Manchester’s AO Arena up to five hours before doors are due to open on a three-night residency – a testament to the artist’s enduring popularity – TPi was escorted to the production office by Head of Security, Cary Nightingale.
Parachuted straight into the camp following Foo Fighters’ touching Taylor Hawkins tribute shows, Production Manager, John Lafferty adopted an ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ approach. “This is a relaxed camp,” he said. “Everybody works as a team. There are no dividing lines between departments and things flow a lot smoother that way.” As such, the tour’s suppliers remain largely the same, with Paul Normandale’s Lite Alternative Design handling production design, while Lite Alternative providing lighting and automation equipment in addition to existing vendors: Britannia Row Productions, Universal Pixels, The Shop, All Access Staging, Actus Industries, Surfhire, ER Productions, Popcorn Catering, Stagetruck, Beat The Street, Equinox Travel, Freight Minds, The Event Safety Shop, ISA-CAM, and Blink of an Eye.
Words: Jacob Waite
Photos: Andrew Benge and TPi