Blizzards couldn’t stop devoted Robbie Williams fans queuing for nine hours to see their pop idol make his Aberdeen debut in 1999.
It was a memorable performance that included Robbie donning a kilt, mooning the audience and scooting around the stage on a motorised toilet.
Robbie Williams was a ’90s singing sensation well on his way to the dizzy heights of superstardom when he played Aberdeen on February 10 1999.
It was one of two Scottish dates on his One More for the Rogue Tour.
And to this day, remains his only performance in the Granite City.
But fans were so concerned it might not happen due to heavy snow, they even offered to clear the airport runway themselves…
Robbie Williams kept devout Aberdeen fanbase waiting
The city gig was hot off the back of the release of his second studio album ‘I’ve Been Expecting You’, which gave Williams his first UK number one single, ‘Millennium’.
It was aptly-titled, as the popstar was at the peak of his solo success as the new century dawned.
Robbie first found fame as the resident cheeky chappy in boyband Take That.
But his bad boy persona and alleged problems with addiction caused tension in the band.
Many fans’ hearts were broken when Robbie agreed to leave Take That in 1995 during the band’s Nobody Else World Tour.
The following year he launched his solo career to aplomb.
But he kept his devoted Aberdeen fanbase waiting. It would be another three years before Robbie graced the city with his spirited stage presence.
Fans phoned airport to make sure Robbie’s flight would arrive
Except, there were fears his plane might not be able to land in Aberdeen – the north-east was gripped by sub-zero temperatures following three days of heavy snow.
The mercury dropped to minus four and Aberdeen was buried under eight inches of snow.
There were treacherous driving conditions, 100 schools were closed, flights were cancelled and hospital staff struggled to get to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
But as far as Robbie Williams’ fans were concerned, it was a gig worth waiting for and inclement weather was not going to stop them seeing their pop pin-up.
The gig promoters assured everyone the show would go ahead, but the Met Office was warning of even more snow on Wednesday – the day of the gig.
Concerned fan Kathleen Boyd told the Evening Express: “I kept ringing the airport to make sure they hadn’t cancelled his flight.”
While another, Sandra King, offered to help clear the runway to make sure Robbie’s flight would arrive.
Diehard fans queued for nine hours to see heart-throb
The snow was so bad the promoters were expecting a much smaller crowd on the night.
It was sell-out gig with 8,000 tickets snapped up as soon as they went on sale.
But they needn’t have worried.
Diehard fans queued outside the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) in bleak conditions for more than nine hours to secure the best views on the night.
Cheryl Henry, Pamela Sinclair and Sarah-Jane Greenhowe braved the freezing conditions and started queuing from 9.30am. By 3.30pm more than 100 more had joined them.
Shocked venue staff were so concerned for the faithful fans in the snow that they called in a catering wagon to provide hot drinks.
An event taking place in the hall that day meaning punters couldn’t wait inside.
AECC manager Clarke Milloy said: “I’ve been outside chatting to them and they have their music playing, it’s cold, but they’re enjoying it.
“The excitement is keeping them warm.”
Meanwhile, it took a mammoth five-and-a-half hours and seven hired diggers to clear the car park at the AECC.
Pair camped overnight to clinch gig tickets
The expected shortfall in audience numbers never materialised as fans went out of their way to see their heart-throb.
Two snowed-in fans from Ellon, Ian Leask and Stephen Baker, made preparations the day before to ensure they made it to see Robbie on the night.
The dedicated duo enlisted the help of a friend with a tractor to clear the road leading from their houses on the Tuesday, and left a car halfway down the road.
The following day they waded through snowdrifts to get to the car leaving hours beforehand to make it to the AECC to queue from 4pm – five hours before Robbie took to the stage.
But this didn’t seem an unusual move for the intrepid fans.
Ian and Stephen had camped at the venue overnight to clinch their Robbie Williams tickets in the first place.
Robbie stepped onto stage in kilt
There was relief all round when Robbie made it to the venue.
Manager Mr Milloy said: “This is the first concert we have had threatened by snow and I think the fact that Robbie came here tonight, despite the weather, is testament to his professionalism.
Support acts The Supernaturals and the Divine Comedy, helped thaw the crowd.
The latter, dressed in smart suits, were described as “sleek, sophisticated and charming, one of the best warm-up bands Robbie could have chosen”.
But Robbie was the main attraction, and at one point he stepped onto stage in a kilt and was completely drowned out by screaming teenage girls.
But ever the joker, he enjoyed winding them up into hysterics and cast his spell over the crowd.
When he could be heard, he said: “They thought I wouldn’t make it here and they thought you wouldn’t make it here.”
‘He messed around showing his backside’
He opened his 19-song set with Let Me Entertain You from his debut solo album.
And the audience was certainly entertained.
Why not stick on our recreation of his setlist with our Spotify playlist while you read on?(Minus one cover we’ll get to later!)
In between numbers – including Life Thru a Lens, Ego a Go Go and Karma Killer – there was plenty of horseplay, and lifting up his kilt.
The Evening Express reviewer said “forever the Clown, Robbie messed around showing his backside, doing silly dances and making ridiculous noises”.
Despite childish on-stage antics, his musicality and singing went down a storm with the keen audience.
The reviewer added: “It is not just hype. He really does deserve all six of those Brit Awards.”
While the P&J reporter tasked with reviewing the gig said: “Robbie Williams is the star of the Millennium.
“For more than an hour he dazzled us with his wit, showmanship and his voice.
“He is the ultimate entertainer, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
As well as mooning his seemingly-thrilled fans, he also took to the stage on a bizarre motorised toilet.
He told the audience it had always been a “dream” of his to own one.
Robbie discovered disadvantages of being a true Scotsman
Toilet humour aside, he delighted one young boy called Stephen by asking his name, then got the crowd to chant it repeatedly while he bowed with respect.
During Man Machine, huge tabloid headlines charting his successes and failures were projected onto a large screen behind him.
Being the slick showman, he charmed the audience with his kilt, but also ensured he made plenty of mentions of Aberdeen or Scotland in his banter.
But apparently he soon realised the “disadvantages” of wearing a kilt as a true Scotsman does when he was leaping about the stage.
While he might have regretted going sans pants, his performance of No Regrets featured a crowd-pleasing duet with The Divine Comedy frontman Neil Hannon.
But the hit everyone was waiting for was Angels.
However, he didn’t need to sing it, because the crowd sang it instead, word for word.
Impromptu after-show party at the Marcliffe
His closing songs were a cover of The Who’s Pinball Wizard, followed by Stand Your Ground and One of God’s Better People.
AECC manager Mr Milloy said: “There couldn’t have been a single person that was not happy.
“There was electricity in the air and the enthusiasm of the audience was incredible.”
But the party didn’t end there.
Robbie was staying at the Marcliffe at Pitfodels, with owner Stewart Spence revealing the star gave guests a private show.
Mr Spence said at the time: “He had given out tickets for a backstage after-show party, but the party came here instead.
“He was in the lounge playing the piano and singing until 4am to lots of people.
“When the residents saw who was tinkling on the ivories they got a nice surprise.”
In photos: Robbie Williams at the AECC in 1999
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