Sunday, August 03, 2003

Fat Bob's corporately funded freakshow

I took the opportunity to watch Fat Bob’s Knebworth shindig on Saturday and I just don’t get it. I don’t blame Bob himself; he’s just doing what he’s doing, and getting paid handsomely for it. And I don’t deny he can be entertaining. But is he really 375,000 people in three days entertaining?

Don’t get me wrong, he’s not blameless; his craving for fame is nauseous, thanking everyone from his family to his manager but “most importantly his fans” and claiming he was “Your son Great Britain”. But why do people pay £30 and more to watch a bloke doing a wedding reception cabaret? Bob claims he wants to be Iggy Pop and Johnny Rotten when he goes on stage but it all comes out Norman Wisdom and he hates it. He’s right, he’s basically a cynical rip-off of stadium performers throughout the ages – from Freddie Mercury the yodelling call and response skit to the Bono-esque ‘saving’ someone from the crowd crush (a crush incidentally, which everyone else on the front row seemed to endure with big smiles on their faces). Throw in a little bit of the big show off at the school disco, and you seem to have a pop phenomenon.

There is an element of empathy in all successful music. So perhaps that’s it, maybe the girls want to regress back to school and be all giggly and silly around the good looking fool, the cheeky chappy who could get away with looking up their skirts in science lessons. The blokes just wish they could go back to that time or have had the guts to get away with it.

There are other benefits of course, it’s definitely cheaper and easier to see one Robbie gig than put the effort into seeing Oasis, The Stones, Queen, Bowie, U2, Bono, Take That and Wisdom live. It’s also easier to buy one Robbie CD than the back catalogues of all these bands. It’s definitely more interesting to see it at Knebworth than at a working men’s club. Although, don’t kid yourselves, we saw Oasis at Knebworth and when you’re as far back as we were, it’s more of a buzz for the singer that the crowd.

Will we look back on the Robbie phenomenon with a slightly embarrassed snigger, much like we will look back on Sex And The City and conclude that the women looked not like fashion icons, but like crap on a rope stick (whatever that is) and that all we fell for was the fact that Kim Catrell was prepared to do full frontal nudity in a mainstream TV show, and say “fuck”, or as she actually says “Fuuuurk”.

It’s definitely on the cards, the show last night seemed to involve Let Me Entertain You followed by two hours of fillers rounded off with Angels. In between were a series of skits and celebrity guests (well Max Beesley) and few vaguely recognisable hits, of which only Kids really makes the grade. What I assume is the new stuff, sounds like ropey copies of the old stuff and whilst I’m bored of it now, others’ will get bored of it soon enough. What Robbie does for his fame then, god only knows.


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