I should preface this review by admitting that I am somewhat of a Robbie Williams fan. I’ve been there since the Take That days, through the bloated drug and alcohol fuelled times and, albeit I have less time to fuel my Robbie obsession these days (and in fact decided not to go to see him perform in concert last year) I still love the bloke from Stoke.
Obsession aside, I can understand that he has a polarising ‘marmite’ effect on people and whilst I fall into the ‘love him’ category, there are plenty who fall into camp ‘hate’. Something that this book, Reveal, is open to addressing.
Reveal is the latest offering from Robbie’s official biographer, Chris Heath, and follows on from Feel which was released in the early noughties. This isn’t the usual chronological ‘rise to fame’ biography and instead is a collection of ‘moments’ threaded together with loose themes. Chapters feature snippets from moments in time, jumping from the early 90s to the present day over the course of a few pages. Chris Heath has the amazing ability to get close to Robbie and write about, the often mundane elements of Robbie’s life (as mundane as life can get for a multi-millionaire superstar anyway), in a way that is truly intimate and revealing.
There are moments of hilarity, but also touching moments which show Robbie’s vulnerability. There is the truth behind those rehab admissions, the videos of his wife Ayda giving birth, an explanation as to why Robbie came out of early retirement and the UFO spotting he did during the brief period of respite from ‘being Robbie’ as well as explorations of his fragile and complex relationship with his Take That band mates. If you fall into the camp of not liking Robbie and thinking that he’s brash and arrogant, this book would be a great start in you seeing the other sides of Robbie. But then, if you aren’t a Robbie fan, the likelihood of you wanting to read this book in the first place are pretty slim, right?
For fans like me, there’s nothing truly groundbreaking. But what there is is a sensitive presentation of the man behind the music, behind the showmanship and do you know what, he’s probably not that different to you and me. A nice read that will make you smile, occasionally laugh out loud and show compassion to one of today’s most misunderstood stars.
N.B. Do read with an open mind – to say Robbie has lived a colourful life is a an understatement to say the least!
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