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Movies & TV

04th Nov 2023

Robbie Williams is bracingly honest about 1999 Slane gig in new Netflix doc

Rory Cashin

Robbie Williams

“I had to go on stage in front of thousands of people, feeling like you’re on the 100th floor, the room’s burning…”

Robbie Williams headlining Slane on 28 August 1999 earmarked the first properly huge gig of the entertainer’s career after he split from Take That and decided to fly solo.

By this point, Williams had both Life Thru A Lens and I’ve Been Expecting You albums released, and was hard at work on what would be his 2000 hit record, Sing When You’re Winning.

Despite his own CV already overflowing with massively popular songs by that point, Williams still tore through an impressive list of artists to cover at Slane, including The Beatles (“Hey Jude”), Eminem (“My Name Is”), Blur (“Song 2”), The Clash (“Should I Stay Or Should I Go”), and he actually ended the set with an Oasis cover, belting out “Wonderwall” along with the 80,000 strong crowd.

In the decades since, Robbie Williams has repeatedly said that performing at Slane was one of the highlights of his career, but from the new perspective on the upcoming self-titled Netflix documentary series, the performance arrived at the peak of the performer’s depression.

Robbie Williams is bracingly honest about Slane performance in new Netflix documentary series

During a behind-the-scenes interview in the series’ second episode, an off-camera interviewer asks Williams if he is excited to headline Slane, to which he replies:

“Slane is three days away, and I’m really scared. […] I’ve been in a black depression for the last five weeks and came out of it last week. So I’m not excited about very much at the minute, but I’m doing my job. I’m here and I’m doing my job. I really want to enjoy Slane, but I’m really scared of it.

“I’m scared of everything at the minute. […] I was in bed fucking worrying about it last week. Wouldn’t get out of bed. Dunno why I’m scared. Just… me confidence has left and my job is all about confidence. […] We have lots of work to do and I’m not really that bothered. With anything.”

Over footage of him and his tour crew entering Slane on the day of the gig, commenting on the two-mile long queue of parked vehicles waiting to get to the venue, current day Robbie Williams reveals in the documentary how he was feeling at that point:

“I was diagnosed with depression very early, 22 or 23. But at this point, people still thought that if good things are happening to you and you’re successful, what’s there to be upset about? I had to go on stage in front of thousands of people, feeling like you’re on the 100th floor, the room’s burning… and you either stay in the room and burn to death, or you jump out the window to your death. It’s that uncomfortable.”

The documentary then cuts to footage from the Slane gig, with Williams giving it everything he’s got, and the crowd absolutely lapping it up. And this isn’t the one and only time that Ireland features heavily in the Robbie Williams documentary, as his Dublin gig in June 2006 kicked off the European leg of his Close Encounters Tour, coinciding with the release of his opinion-splitting album Rudebox. Which would also turn out to be his last tour for almost a decade.

All four episodes of Robbie Williams are available to watch on Netflix from Wednesday 8 November.

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