SOMEBODY SOMEDAY (2001)
- Extract 2
HE COULD HAVE HAD A
Robbie is in for a nasty shock ...
In the middle of the excited pre-show crowd, Lighting Director
Liz Berry hovers over her monitor board and communicates with
her team on a private network of headphones or 'cans': assistant
Rich Gorrod right next to her, Kiwi video supremo Alistair MacDairmid
nearer the stage, and the four spotlight operators, strapped
into their bucket seats high up on the front lighting truss.
Three of them are drivers of the overnight buses and trucks,
doubling up. ''I keep forgetting to ask," Liz says, as
the Achtung! Achtung! announcements whip the crowd up into screaming
frenzy, 'what is it Rob says every night on stage in German?
Presumably it's something like, "Your mother blows goats."'
'The Eagle has landed!' she cries, as Rob bounces up in his
chair. Then, as he takes a new route along the top of the set
away from the silver steps: 'He's come down the slide.'
'Down the slide,' echoes Rich beside her.
'Wee-hey!' she laughs. 'On your back Robbie. OK, all stand ready
for frame one. Standing by to bumper frame one, please, frame
one. R-rr-ready, and go!' she orders, starting to boogy as the
music begins. 'Nice,' she approves, when lighting changes go
well. 'He's in a good mood tonight,' she observes. 'But not
After 'Forever Texas', there's another sudden surprise change
in the set. Rob has decided, on a whim, to sing Noel and Liam
Gallagher's hit 'Wonderwall'. He's told Liz and Dave Bracey
just before the show. 'I wonder if he's told the band,' Liz
muses to her team. 'The entertaining thing is Yolanda's never
played it before, because she didn't do the tour last year.'
As it turns out, Rob hasn't told the band. 'Fil's shitting himself,'
laughs Liz. 'We're not the only ones who don't know what the
fuck we're doing.' Yolanda and Fil try gamely to play the tune,
but it's hardly the punchily brilliant renderings of the other
well-rehearsed numbers. Then Rob forgets the words. 'What a
complete disaster!' comes Alistair's Kiwi voice over the cans.
'Dat is good, ya?' goes Rob at the end, to his still enthusiastic
'No,' says Alistair, 'dat is shite.'
But worse is to follow.
Half way through the next song, 'Supreme', a tiny figure dodges
round the back black curtain and races across the stage towards
the star. The band and audience hardly see him, he's running
so fast. For a moment, Fil thinks it's Mick, running on to make
some adjustment on the drum dais; then, horrified, he realises
it's not. For the stranger, reaching Rob, plants both palms
firmly on the back of his damp black shirt and pushes him forward,
right off the front of the stage.
Rob's still holding his radio mike
as he falls, tumbling over the shaved head of a shocked security
guard as he crashes the five feet down into the black pit below,
his assailant on top of him. Diana Scrimgeour, a London rock
photographer who has been shooting close-ups of Rob, drops her
camera as she leaps to one side. She sees Rob's silhouetted
arm as he comes over, the twisted, manic, 'really screwed-up'
look on the attacker's face behind.
'He's just been attacked!' shouts Liz over the cans. There's
a delayed gasp from the huge crowd, as waving hands fall rapidly
to shocked sides. As the music stops a mass chatter fills the
arena. What now? Is that it? Up on stage the band confer earnestly
with each other.
For a few seconds Rob is no more than a black, sprawled heap
on the floor. The security guards have pulled up the attacker
and got his hands behind his back. Rob is already stirring,
pulling himself into a crouch, now calling for his radio mike.
David Enthoven has already jumped down and picked it up. Rob's
acting almost on autopilot, but he's not going to be deterred,
he's not going to call the show off - as he might have done
before. He's going to get back there and finish his set. Helped
by Jonah and a local security guard, Rob remounts the stage.
David passes him the mike. Rob's bursting with adrenaline, he
realises. Guy has now started the music, but Rob stops him with
a brusque 'cut' gesture. He turns back to the crowd.
'Is everybody OK?' Rob shouts to the waiting crowd. 'Yeah,'
they reassure him. 'Well, so am I,' he yells back. 'And I'm
not going to let any fucker get on stage and stop you having
a good time.'
There is huge applause.
'He's very shaken,' observes Alistair over the cans. 'I can
tell from here. Body language. To bits.'
'I think Rob might be off for a little while, actually,' says
Liz, at the first break, after 'Kids'. 'Either that or race
back on, bollock through it and cut straight to "Rock DJ".'
Which is what he does. He storms through his remaining numbers
without a second break, ending with a 'Rock DJ' that's the most
energised there's yet been, an adrenalin-fuelled stormer. Then
he's off and down the cloth tunnel into backstage, before anyone
can say anything to him. Everyone troops after him, documentary
camera crew and all. 'OK, I want everyone in here please,' he
says. He's fine, he tells them, as they crowd into his dressing
room. They're not to worry. He's not going to milk the pity
vibe. 'Someone pushed me off stage. It's OK. All right. OK,
cool.' Everyone claps.
Rob's dressing room door is now closed.
Manager David stands guard outside it, with the shaken-looking
security guards a few yards down the corridor in a cluster.
Now French wardrobe mistress Flo goes in alone to minister to
him. She rubs arnica tincture on his knee, gives him arnica
pellets for the shock and offers something surely rarer in this
ever-public circus: the love and support of a trusted employee
in private. David and Josie are allowed in and Rob's brave front
collapses. 'I got back on stage and I finished the gig,' he
tells them. 'I couldn't ruin the show for everybody else that
was out there. Because, in the past, I've had stuff thrown at
me, like bottles that have hit me in the air and stuff like
that and I've just walked offstage and I've not come back on.
And I didn't that time, I stayed on till the end.' His voice
cracks as he looks up. 'I don't know, man. It just throws loads
of things like, is this worth it? You know, cos that guy stuck
that knife in Monica Seles's back. He could have had a knife
then. Could have had anything. I don't want to mope into the
self pity of it all or ...' His voice suddenly breaks. But I'm
scared. I'm genuinely scared,' he repeats, his eyes now glistening
with tears. 'And it's not just tonight I'm scared, d'you know
what I mean, it's a huge percentage of my days I'm really really
John Lennon, George Harrison, Jill Dando, Brad Pitt. The fear
that has haunted him, night after night, alone in his bedroom
in Kensington Park Road, has finally become reality. Thank God
it wasn't worse.
Next door, everyone is hyped and shocked and excited.
'It was like slow motion,' Fil is saying. 'I thought, Christ,
Mick's moving quick ...'
'He came from the back, behind the stage,' says Guy.
'How the hell, with security up the wazzoo,' says Fil, more
angry than coherent, 'and he gets on stage ...'
'And on top of it all,' laughs backing singer Katie, 'I lost
Guy, who carries a little camcorder with him a lot of the time,
leaving it running both onstage and backstage, has managed to
catch, incredibly, the actual moment of the attack on video.
They all crane over the little screen to see the assailant racing
across from left to right, truly a man possessed. 'I've never
seen anyone attacked on stage,' says Guy. 'And I've been to
hundreds of gigs.'
Franksy arrives. The police have got the man, he tells them.
He's a complete nutter, apparently. Thinks Rob is impersonating
Robbie and the real Robbie Williams is somewhere else. Guy plays
back the tape.
'Fuckin 'ell!' goes Franksy.
'It's just horrible, innit?' says Guy. 'So horrible I can't
bear to watch it. I've seen it about ten times,' he adds illogically.
When Rob has finally collected himself, he emerges into the
corridor. Security guards Marv and Pompey are now in tears.
'Please guys,' Rob asks the documentary camera and sound men,
who have started filming and recording again. He waves them
away and they back off as he goes to throw his arms around Pompey.
The Falklands veteran and the superstar hug like brothers.
Ten minutes later Rob appears through
the shower area that links his and the male dressing rooms at
the back. He's fully dressed in black woolly hat and puffa jacket.
The general chatter hushes. Spliffs go down behind armchair
arms and wine glasses slide to the floor. Rob nods and smiles
silently as he looks round at his band, those close to him,
those he loves, he realises now more than ever, his friends.
'Are you lot going to Paris tonight?' he asks. They are. He
nods again, thoughtfully. 'I might come with you,' he says.
'I'm not sure I want to stay in Stuttgart tonight.'
No, they tell him. They love him too. Come with us on the bus.
Get out of Stuttgart. Leave the bloody place behind. He nods
again and heads off thoughtfully into the corridor.
'I couldn't believe his reaction about getting back up and finishing
the show,' says David later. 'Old Robbie would have been furious
and run away. This new Rob actually became this caring man that
was much more concerned about everybody else not being upset.
It was a turning point. The boy became a man. I was gobsmacked
with pride, actually. I was in tears. I thought, Here he is,
he's become a man.'