Having been of scornful age when Take That were first around, my Robbie-love grew slowly and quietly. I probably would never have got to see him but for a wonderful opportunity kindly offered by a new friend, P. I bought her old iPod and the rest is history.
The Roi Baudoin stadium is on the site of the old Heysel/Heizel stadium and is the size of a village. We found this out by having to walk around it to find the box office. Staff were cheerful and helpful; signs non-existent.
After a bit of Olly Murs (good on the boy, he done good, and various other footballisms), RW appeared as a tiny and sparkling action figure at the top of his stage set, about a hundred feet up. He then zipwired down to the stage, landing far more elegantly than I ever have. More of that inelegance later. He said "I'm Robbie Fuckin' Williams and for the next two hours your arse is mine". Leaving aside how he could possibly handle that many arses in two hours, it's a greeting I might try employing in future.
He really did give us two solid hours of Rob. I won't go all fangirl on you but he was by turns arrogant, funny, brilliant, entertaining, funny, arrogant, and brilliant. All the cheesy things about him apply in wheel-of-brie-size amounts but it somehow works. He can do it all - big stagy numbers like a beefed-up Artful Dodger, simple acoustic numbers that showed his rather lovely voice, and everything in between. OK, at times he comes over a bit Saturday night variety, but I can ignore that. He did a spontaneous Jimmy Savile impression which was immediately and amusingly regretted. (When I say impression, he didn't fiddle with under-age girls, you understand.)
Anyway, to the end. I've always hated "Angels". It's one of those songs everyone knows the words to as if absorbed by osmosis. When people do it on talent shows I go and make some tea. It's trite, mawkish and dull. Try singing it along with 42, 000 other people in the dark, with the scintillance of camera flashes and the tiny light windows of smartphones held above the heads of the standing crowd below. I don't know about you but I've never sung a capella with 42, 000 people. Words which had always seemed a bit rubbish felt like an anthem. And I must admit that singing "I have been told that salvation lets their wings unfold" made a tear run out of my left eye. This old cynic felt something magical happen.
Things not to try again:
1. You may, at 51, be able to wriggle out of the barrier in front of you to get to the loo without a row of people getting up. You may not be able to get back in that way without looking extremely daft.
2. You may, at 51, be able to duck under car park barriers but please note, if you are wearing a back-pack which meets with the STOP sign on the barrier, you may end up sprawled on the floor.
By the way, these newspaper reports about RW being a chubster these days - he's naturally quite a chunky bloke. In another life he could probably have been a bouncer. But you need to be quite fit to perform for two hours without a break, so up yours Daily Mail.