Robbie Williams opens up about that 'horrible' Kiwi review
After decades of performing, Robbie Williams says no-one has been as "horrible" as the Kiwi whose review left Williams scorned at the end of his New Zealand shows last year.
In November 2015, Stuff's music columnist and reviewer Simon Sweetman gave a particularly harsh review of Williams' Wellington show at the Basin Reserve, labelling the performance "ham-fisted", "insulting" and "karaoke".
The review clearly hit a nerve with Williams, prompting the singer to fire back at his Auckland concert, telling the crowd: "Simon Sweetman, kiss my f---ing a--".
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He also shared a photo of Sweetman and his son on social media, calling him a "baby-eater".
At the time, Sweetman did not publicly respond, but retweeted Williams' post.
But Williams, who releases his 11th studio album, The Heavy Entertainment Show, next month, says the experience has not tainted his view of New Zealand.
Asked if he had ever called out a reviewer before, he responded, "Nobody's ever been that horrible, in a long, long time".
"The sort of climate for being mean about pop people has sort of changed over the last 10 years," the star said.
"It's at the end of a tour, and I've given everything I've got - and I take the responsibility of entertaining people very seriously - and I suppose, when you're tired and you're missing your family and somebody's mean about you, you're like, 'ow!' "
Williams said the perception that he might be bulletproof to comments after years of fame was not true.
"I'm not at all. I'm incredibly oversensitive. I have no thick skin, no thick skin has developed, I remain thin skinned and incredibly oversensitive."
At his Auckland concert that followed the Wellington gig, Williams dedicated the poem Hello, Sir, to Sweetman.
The poem, from his 1997 album Life Thru A Lens, was written for one of Williams' former teachers, and includes the words: "Well, I'm here and you're still there, with a fake sports car and receding hair ... But thanks for the advice and I'm sure it'll do, for the negative d***heads just like you."
He adapted the closing line to. "And here I sit in first class/Simon Sweetman, kiss my f...ing ass".
Williams said the move was all "panto".
"It's all part of the heavy entertainment show, be it good or be it bad I sort of weave it all in."
He said the controversy had not tainted his view of New Zealand.
"Oh God no, no not at all. I had a wonderful couple of evenings on stage down in New Zealand, amazing audiences, I can't wait to come down and entertain them again.
"I was on stage in front of the people that were loving it, so it's all good, and God bless Simon Sweetman, God bless him too."
Sweetman has declined to comment.