The Five Biggest Moods from Robbie Williams' World Cup Performance

From to a lad shredding all hell out of a harp to OG Ronaldo, the Russia 2018 opening ceremony had it all. Robbie Williams was also there.
Lauren O'Neill
London, GB
June 14, 2018, 4:36pm
All images via ITV

The 2018 World Cup just fizzled into existence, and it turns out that Stoke-on-Trent’s own Robbie Williams, who it’s probable was flown in on a couple of days notice after someone much more famous cancelled, is the 24th of England's brave boys. Obviously, as with all things Robbie Williams involves himself with, the Russia 2018 opening ceremony was absolutely peculiar – but think on that for a second, won’t you? Would it really be the beginning of an international sporting event without a gigantic papier-mâché bird carrying Russian soprano Aida Garifullina somewhere in its bowels? It would not. It would not.


Though the opening ceremony was only ten minutes long, it was, admittedly, an awful lot to take in. In case, for some reason, you would like to relive it, here are the five major takeaways – the biggest #moods, the moments you will relay, misty eyed, to your children in four World Cups’ time – from what you have just seen:


Opening ceremonies are, sorry, crap. “But the Danny Boyl—” yes, even the Danny Boyle one, get over it. They are all crap: rictus grins and absurd showmanship, and visible wires and volunteer dancers in over-complex outfits, and the sheer earnestness of it – a kind of smooth-edged motion of celebration, a celebration that does not fuck – and even though they costs hundreds of thousands and days to choreograph and I’m sure they look really good when you’re there, in the stadium, sorry but watching loads of lads in boiler suits flick around MDF cutouts of flames to make up a bird and then the word ‘LOVE’ is undoubtedly the shittest thing, ever in the world, and in 2K18 we really should be better at putting on a show by now. Where’s my holograph? Where’s my glitter cannons? A spaceship should be launched and then exploded. A boy should be sacrificed on a alter. I do not want to watch Robbie Williams sweat to death in an ASOS suit. I do not want cherubic schoolchildren holding taut a parachute. I want blood.


Robbie Williams came to the World Cup dressed as Morrissey, but Morrissey if he was a flamboyant bingo caller in Coventry. Clad in shiny, red, leopard-print suit (all of those things! At once!), resplendent in thick chain, Robbie showed the world what he was about, mainly by forgetting some of the words in his set-opener “Let Me Entertain You.” He then performed “Feel” – and I would like to invite the person who decided he would do that instead of “Rock DJ” to bare-knuckle fight me in the fucking street – before hitting the crowd, nay, the world, with “Angels”, which probably had the effect of making everyone currently at work deeply desirous of approx. two pints of lager, which, really is probably how you should feel during the entirety of the World Cup.


It was one for the ages: Rob doing a few faraway “this is a childhood dream” gazes into the distance that I refuse to believe he did not practice in the mirror of his hotel room; Rob looking at co-performer Garifullina like he was literally going to eat her and absorb her talent at one point; Rob doing a finger up to the livestream like it was the 1999 BRIT Awards. Vintage, perfect. Arguably, there’s no more appropriate setting for a performance by Beloved, Eternal Lad Robbie Williams than a World Cup opening ceremony. Today, he transcended. Hope. Glory. Robbie.


If your live show doesn't involve a harp wyd??? Not something you forget in a hurry, is it, a fella in a shirt covered in glue-gunned paper flames (probably some stylist only realised he didn’t go with the theme – “fire” – 10 minutes before go-time so made the best of what she had) bashing seven shades of shit out of a harp in front of millions? I am so proud of him.


This was a bit Wicker Man but that is exactly why I liked it. Aida Garifullina is a beautiful singer, but for a large portion of her performance she was consigned to this ceremonial phoenix as though she was about to be delivered to a fiery death. In actuality, she was just being delivered to a podium atop which she would duet with Robbie Williams. So, same thing.


World Cup Fever Level: mate I just saw Ronaldo – actual Ronaldo, OG Ronaldo, El Fenomeno, 1998 Ronaldo – swag onto the pitch with a child, dummy a penalty to throw a dead-eyed wolf mascot the wrong way, then let a boy come through and softly toe punt it; Ronaldo there metaphorically passing the torch from him (large former footballer w/ the most broken hamstrings on earth) to the child (doomed small Russian). I would like it on record that Ronaldo then high-fived the wolf as a show of friendship and respect. My World Cup Fever is incalculable right now. It is off the charts. You know when Manchester City fans get a bit too keen and get a tattoo of a new signing before they’ve actually signed, like that lad did with Kaka? And you, and me, normal people, look at him and think: what an absurd northern idiot? I no longer think that way. That is where my W.C.F. is right now. I’m getting a whole backpiece of Ronaldo feinting a wolf. I’m getting it done right now. Typing through this pain is agonising. My World Cup Fever is now, according to doctors who know about this sort of thing, terminal. In 32 days, when the trophy is lifted to the clouds, I die.

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