40,000 Israelis let pop star Robbie Williams entertain them

UK sensation pleases the crowd in Tel Aviv with a raunchy set featuring covers of classics by Queen and U2, says his time in the country was ‘f***ing amazing’

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

British singer Robbie Williams performs in Tel Aviv before approximately 40,000 fans on May 2, 2015. (Photo credit: Flash90)
British singer Robbie Williams performs in Tel Aviv before approximately 40,000 fans on May 2, 2015. (Photo credit: Flash90)

Some 40,000 people packed Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park Saturday night to watch, cheer and sing along with British songster Robbie Williams.

Williams kicked off the concert with his 1998 hit “Let Me Entertain You,” which is also the name of his 2015 world tour.

Decked out with tattoos, devil horns, black leather and bright red backlighting, Williams gave the concert a deliberate “Doesn’t it feel good to be bad?” vibe.

“Do you feel me, Israel?” he asked his tens of thousands of fans. They did. With the crowd sufficiently riled, the Stokie singer started into some of his classics: “Rock DJ,” followed by “Monsoon” and “Come Undone.”

U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and Lorde’s recent international hit “Royals” were covered by the 41-year-old pop sensation, who was accompanied by backup singers, a keyboardist, a horns section, a drummer and a guitarist.

Williams also shared some his personal story, discussing his drug addiction and rehabilitation, and how he overcame his troubles through music.

Lat week, former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, a vocal critic of Israel, attacked Williams for performing in Tel Aviv, claiming his decision “gives succor to Netanyahu and his regime, and endorses their deadly racist policies.”

In an open letter published in Salon, Rogers referred to the IDF’s killing of four Palestinian boys playing football on a Gaza beach during the summertime Protective Edge offensive. “Sadly, when it comes to Palestinian children, like those killed on that beach in Gaza that day, Williams is showing a chilling indifference to their well-being,” Rogers wrote.

Williams did not respond directly to Rogers’ piece during his concert, but did make sure to properly praise Israel and the adoring fans.

Singer Robbie Williams performs in Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Park on May 2, 2015. (Photo credit: Flash 90)

“I’ve been here for two days and when I go back home and they ask me how Israel was,” he told the gathered masses, “I’ll tell them it was fucking amazing.”

Williams arrived in Israel Thursday night with practically his whole family — wife, newborn daughter, son and father — and an entourage of more than 50.

But family in tow or no, Williams did not hold back on the raunchiness. Part of the way through the show, he changed into a skirt. And after performing “I Love Rock and Roll,” he invited a fan, Anat, onstage for a joint rendition of “Candy.” On the video screen behind them, the two appeared to be in bed together, making out.

Williams continued with several more of his classics, “Millennium,” “Feel,” and “Kids.”

At that point, with the concert winding down, he ripped off his skirt, remaining on stage in just his underwear.

“Thank you and good night,” he told the crowd.

In his curtain call, Williams launched into Queen’s beloved “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with a recording of Freddie Mercury appearing on the screen behind him.

He told the screaming fans that they had been a great crowd, and promised to return to Israel in the future.

“I’ve always wanted to visit Israel and to see you and feel you, and I think now I have,” he said.

Williams finished the show with his emotional “Angels,” one of the songs he wrote after getting out of rehab.

“And do they know the places where we go, when we’re grey and old,” he crooned, “‘cos I have been told that salvation lets their wings unfold.”

Williams has sold more than 77 million albums over the course of his 20-year career.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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