Seal and Robbie Williams live at BST Hyde Park review: The real deal

Robbie Williams and Seal put on an amazingly entertaining show for the huge crowd at BST Hyde Park.
Seal at BST Hyde Park
Seal at BST Hyde Park / Samir Hussein/GettyImages

It’s summer festival time in the UK. Even if the label summer is a bit of a stretch in what seems to be the rainy season this year.  BST Hyde Park runs a series of gigs over several weeks. It's a huge 90,000 crowd gathering in a Royal Park just round the corner from Marble Arch, Oxford Street, and all the shops. 

On Saturday the crowds were turning up to see Robbie Williams headlining. More of him later. With the gates opening at 2 p.m., there was a lengthy lineup across multiple stages. I’ll be honest, I turned up late to dodge the heavy rain and missed Shaun Ryder and Black Grape. Yeah, I know, not good enough, but we didn't get the tickets to see them anyway. And I stayed dry.

I was glad to have caught Gaz Coombes though. He’s been out on his own for a while now since Supergrass. I caught their last UK gig on a superb night at Brixton O2 Academy back in 2010. He’s still sounding pretty cool and of course, played a Supergrass number, “Moving”, in his set. To be fair, with an audience there for a different act, you have to play a crowd-pleaser, but overall he got a good decent reaction from the audience. 

Seal live is the real deal

Next up on the main stage and second on the bill came Seal. The weather broke nicely into that summer evening sunshine for us all and Seal’s songs were the perfect accompaniment. He was pretty intense and enjoyed performing for his home crowd.  Seal also called out his producer from his early days, Trevor Horn, who was in the audience.

His short 60-minute or so set naturally included hits like “Kiss For A Rose” and “Crazy”, which he closed with. But there were two more excellent crowd-pleasers in an electrifying “Killer” and a brilliant cover of  T Rex’s “20th Century Boy”. I didn't know what to expect from Seal live. He was immense though and had the crowd with him throughout. I’d love to see his full show. 

That leads us to Robbie Williams, an occasional Take That member and very much a star in his own right. Some might say in his own mind, and boy did he let his ego and bravado run loose on Saturday night. Brash, but crowd-pleasing. Cocky, but with a cheeky charm and rocking the park throughout. 

Robbie Williams the vulnerable entertainer 

Will used the show to take a run through his musical career and talk about many personal highs and lows. The lows are pretty low. It was an intimate and candid expose at times, despite the huge crowd watching. A real vulnerability lies below the surface of this entertainer.

Entertainer is the word though. Some might scoff at his music or his persona, but the guy knows how to entertain and does so throughout the night. From the gutsy anthemic “Let Me Entertain You” as an opener, to the inevitable “Angels” as a closing number, he had the crowd lively, excited, and partying. It was a noisy, celebratory sing-along from start to end. And some of those songs were damn good, especially in that crowd.

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Apart from the usual Robbie Williams tracks there were a few extras. Guest appearances, covers, and total madness ruled for a while. “Don’t Look Back In Anger” recalled a Glastonbury hangout with the Gallaghers. Gaz Coombes reappeared to join him on “Alright” from Supergrass. 

But the most surreal moment was reserved for the Coldstream Guards band being introduced on stage, followed by cockney actors Danny Dyer and a mad but great version of Pulp’s “Parklife”. You probably had to be there to understand.

Amazing lighting, video effects, the guests, his band, and dancers all combined for a great show. Williams entertained everyone and seemed genuinely happy with himself. It was some show he put on.

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