The best closing season party in the Alps

7th May 2014, by Abi Butcher

The ski resort of Ischgl swings to Robbie Williams. Photo: TVB Paznaun-Ischgl / Pierluigi Orler

The ski resort of Ischgl swings to Robbie Williams. Photo: TVB Paznaun-Ischgl / Pierluigi Orler

During my 28-year skiing and slightly shorter partying career, I have never been to a concert up the mountain. Zermatt Unplugged looks fabulous, as does Rock The Pistes in the Portes du Soleil, but Ischgl hit the top of my list when the news that Robbie Williams was playing the closing Top of the Mountain concert popped into my inbox back in December.

As I hurriedly bashed out a news story I resolved to be there when Mr Williams got on stage at the 2,320m Idalp plateau on 3 May. Evidently so did 25,000 others — the crowds began swarming up the Silvrettabahn and Fimbabahn as soon as the lifts opened last Saturday. But we weren’t disappointed — Robbie played a 90-minute concert that lit up the Austrian ski resort like never before.

Some 25,000 fans turned up to party with Robbie Williams

The 2013/14 Ischgl ski season was opened by Nickelback, but in the past stars including Elton John, Kylie Minogue, Mariah Carey, Bon Jovi and The Killers have all featured in the resort’s iconic Top of the Mountain concerts.

On Friday 2 May, Robbie Williams flew in from Turin on his Swings Both Ways tour, bringing his big band — and growing family — to the ski resort. Before the concert (which was put on for an “undisclosed sum”) Robbie told journalists that his favourite songs to perform were Let Me Entertain You and Angels — with which he opened and closed his mountain show with aplomb.

Clad in high-tech X-Bionic base layers beneath his white tie suit, Robbie sang some Robbie classics (Rock DJ, Come Undone, Kids), swing classics (New York, New York and Puttin’ on the Ritz) as well new hits such as Shine My Shoes and Go Gentle, the first two songs on his new album.

A keen fan of the mountains — Robbie used to ski in Zermatt during his twenties — he clearly got cold during the show, despite his energetic jumping around, and donned a pair of thermal black North Face gloves about halfway through. His band didn’t fare too well, either. The brass section complained afterwards of being a little off-key (not that we noticed), and the pianist had his keyboard dried every few songs, and covered the piano to protect it from the snow. The worst sufferers, it appeared, were his poor backing singers who stood on stage in skimpy black dresses, wrapping themselves in shawls at times — but the audience didn’t notice a thing such was the professional attitude of this brilliant band.

Robbie told journalists that he sings “Puttin’ on the Ritz” in the shower

I’ve always been a Robbie Williams fan, and saw him during his record-breaking Knebworth concert series in 2003. He didn’t disappoint then, or now — and even the sceptical Editor Gill was completely won over by the former member of Take That. (Editor Watts was less sceptical and equally enthralled.)

After the close of the show, the party continued with German DJ Ben Santo spinning tunes and playing the drums while crowds dispersed down to Ischgl’s buzzing centre. At this point WTSS headed to hotel Elisabeth, followed by the bonkers Niki’s Stadl and, later in the evening, Hotel Post.

Meanwhile Robbie Williams and his family — the singer was accompanied on tour by his wife, Ayda, daughter, Teddy, and father, Peter — headed off for his next gig in Amsterdam. Leaving one hell of a legacy for the next poor band or singer to try to better — next year’s line-up has yet to be announced.

Ischgl, we salute you for putting on the best closing party the Alps has ever seen.

The Where to Ski and Snowboard team was a guest of Ski Total, Inghams and Ischgl tourism, staying at Ski Total’s newly refurbished Chalet Hotel Abendrot.

Chalet Hotel Abendrot
The Chalet Hotel Abendrot from Ski Total ( 01483 791933) is available next season from £519pp travelling on 7 Dec 2014. Set in a superb location just one minute’s walk from the resort centre, this chalet hotel is stylish and comfortable and a special favourite with previous guests. This price is based on two adults sharing and includes return flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck, transfers, free wifi, spa with two saunas and steam room, free ski hosting and seven nights catered accommodation including buffet breakfast, afternoon tea and a five-course evening meal with complimentary wine.

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