Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! May all your dreams come true in 2012 and may you all be blessed with happiness, love and health!

And here is one more thing I have to say to all the readers of this blog and to everyone I met online (twitter, facebook, email) or at the concerts:

Thank you!!

Thank you all so much for reading my blog! Starting this blog was a big thing for me, and it really turned my life around. And once again being a fan of George Michael had something to do with me doing things I'd never thought possible. It was partly to share my love for 25Live and later Symphonica and all things George with you that I started this blog.

You were all so incredibly nice to me, when I first started tweeting and later when I wrote my first reviews for this blog. Many of you were kind enough to tweet compliments about my reviews or re-tweet them. That felt great! Some of you came by to say hi at the concerts, and again you were so nice to me, even when I was stressed out with tweeting and all the other stuff I was so busy with.

When I first started my blog I was hurting so much. I am much better now thanks in no small part to you. I wrote some personal stuff about grieving for my mum on this blog, before the start of Symphonica. I want to thank all of you who sent me such kind and comforting messages through tweets, DM and email. You'll never know how much they meant to me, and how much you helped.

I don't know about you, but I certainly won't forget those weeks when George was in hospital in a hurry. Within days twitter became the biggest prayer circle I've ever been part of. The love and concern shown for George was really something special and it made me very proud to be part of the GM-family. Thank you all for the support, as I would have felt so alone in my fear for George without it. And even more scared.

And then there is George. I am so unbelievably happy that George Michael is still with us. So I say thank you to God, the doctors and nurses, his family and everyone else who kept him safe.

The last thank you is for George himself. I'm well aware he will never read this, but it wouldn't feel right ending this end-of-year blog post without thanking him. Thank you George for fighting so hard to stay alive. Thank you for giving that press conference, we could all see how much it cost you. And thank you so much for giving us the gift of Symphonica. I would love to see Symphonica return in 2012 but I will happily wait out a year if that ensures your full recovery. Thank you George and please be well.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone

No cats were harmed taking this photo;-)
She loved her new blanket and stayed like this for an hour!

Time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. I hope everyone has a wonderful time, with their families or their loved ones (not always the same group of people ...).
If you cooked a special Christmas dinner or go out to dinner like us, I hope it's a very good one. And if there are (or rather were) any presents lying under your Christmas tree, may they be fabulous ones.

I know that for most George Michael fans Christmas came early this year. They got their best Christmas present of 2011 a few days ago: George was released from hospital and got home just in time for Christmas. And, as we were all so forcefully reminded over the past month, health really is the biggest gift of all.

So my wife, our cat Faith (isn't she a beauty!) and I wish you all a Very Merry, Healthy Christmas.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Welcome back, George Michael

George Michael is out of hospital and back where he belongs - his home in North London - and I'm so glad. I'm happiest for George himself of course, at 48 he's much too young to leave for unknown shores. I'm very happy for George's family and friends who came so horribly and frighteningly close to losing him. We can only imagine what unspeakable hell they've been through in the past month. And I'm glad for all his fans, who care for him too - albeit from a distance. Because we not only love his music, we love him as well!

Once again I am so proud of George. What a fighter he proved himself to be. Fighting to stay alive for weeks when things were as he said "touch and go". Fighting to regain his strength in the 10 days since he woke up from his induced coma, and making unbelievable progress - he was walking all by himself. It was a hard-fought battle, and from the look of him I'd say it's not yet completely won. But I'm confident victory will be his in the end, and he will make a full recovery.

On Friday, George gave a press conference outside his home. Walking to a spot between Christmas trees in front of his house, he took a few minutes to answer questions from the press. Oversized glasses shielded his face from too intrusive looks and protected him from the worst of the flash photography. A scarf was carefully draped around his neck, hiding the scar of the tracheotomy from sight.

He was reduced to gasping for breath when, talking about his ordeal, his emotions got the better of him. It was heartbreaking, and just like thousands of fans across the world I just wanted to hug him and hold him tight for a very long time. He looked so frail and gaunt. But not sad. Very emotional yes, but not sad. Clearly, he was very grateful he survived. So are we, George! Welcome back, dear George, we missed you.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A light for George Michael

Some of George Michael's fans are lighting a candle every day as an act of prayer for him. I do this too, and have done it ever since the news came that he was very ill. Thank God that the news about George is quite good now and his doctors as well as his close friends tell us he is improving. Nevertheless he is in my thoughts and prayers every day. 

A simple light, a silent prayer.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Facebook here I come!

Four months ago I wrote my very first tweet and this week I wrote my first status update on Facebook. Thanks in no small part to George Michael I'm now officially a social media girl, having a blog, a twitter account and even a Facebook account!

Never, ever did I think I would end up with a Facebook account, all that friending and unfriending business looked ever so stressful to me. And Lord knows I don't need more stress. But then I never thought I would sign up for Twitter either. Once again being a George Michael fan changed my life in unexpected ways. If George hadn't taken up twittter, neither would I! And I would have missed out on a lot of fun.

This is my Facebook profile picture
Find me on Facebook at facebook.com/adaforshort

Monday, 5 December 2011

The love of my life

After all my blogposts from yesteryear about my wedding jitters I think it's time a write a little bit about Mary, my wife. This year we celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. In 2005 we finally tied the knot after spending our weekends together in her house or mine for ten long years. Nobody can accuse us of rushing into marriage!
This is the picture we used for the wedding invitations

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Symphonica - Official Statement: George Michael is improving

After what feels like weeks of worry about George Michael his doctors put out a statement today. The news is good, he is "improving steadily". Praise be to God.

Here is the statement in full:

Professors Gottfried Locker and Christoph Zielinski would like to make a statement regarding George Michael.

Further to our previous statement Mr. Michael is being treated here for pneumonia and nothing else.

The latest development in Mr. Michael's case - which has evolved from a severe pneumococcal infection - necessitated intensive care due to its severity and extension. We are happy to announce that Mr Michael is improving steadily with an impressive regression of pneumonic symptoms and follows a steady rate of improvement as hoped.

There are no other health issues with regards to the patient other than the underlying pneumonic disorder, and no further measures had to be taken.

Mr. Michael is receiving precisely the same treatment as any ordinary patient in Austria would receive at the hospital for this disease.

As we said previously, complete rest and peace and quiet are mandatory.

We wish to make it clear that we are putting this statement out and there will be no further comment.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Symphonica - A prayer for George Michael

It's been a horrible, scary week. Today is Saturday and George Michael was supposed to fly into Cardiff today, to take his Symphonica Tour back to the UK. Instead he's in a hospital in Vienna with severe pneumonia. He's been in Vienna since Monday, when he was supposed to do a show there. But a few hours before showtime he got so unwell that a doctor was called and the show was popstponed. Over the next few days he got so ill he ended up in the ICU of the Viennese hospital.

I just hate to think of George being so desperately ill in a place so far from his beloved London. I'm sure he's getting the best possible care though, nobody in Vienna wants bad things to happen to George on their watch. And according to the official statement he's responding to treatment and slowly improving and of course that's the most important thing.

Everybody is praying for George

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Tiramisu and other guilty pleasures

This is an old piece, about George Michael and favourite TV show The Nanny. It was written in 2006 when George Michael was still in a relationship with Kenny Goss. I really miss Kenny, he and George made such a beautiful couple. I was a hardcore George and Kenny 'shipper and googling for news or pics of them certainly was a guilty pleasure of mine.


Last night Maria and I were rewatching George Michael: A different story. It’s a great documentary by the way. [The Guardian got it right, it is a warts'n'all hagiography.] George discusses at length the highs and lows of his life and there are lots of both.
There is also quite a bit of Kenny Goss, George’s gorgeous partner. George tells us that he wasn’t sure that Kenny was gay before he asked him out and that he still wasn’t sure on the first dinnerdate. He then all but winks at the camera and reveals that "the second night I became very sure that [Kenny] was gay". Heh.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A Flawless Wedding

This is the last of the blog posts of the blog I started a week before my wedding. I didn't keep a copy of the other posts, which I kinda regret now. I remember blogging the night before our wedding, all nervous and happy. And I posted a very short post on the morning of the wedding, just before the make-up girl came to work her magic on us!

I still love our wedding rings!
Only six days to go till "I do". Maria and I are getting more nervous by the day. It’s a big thing for both us. If you’re gay getting married is like the ultimate coming out and it turns out it’s not for the faint of heart. Only yesterday we were telling each other if we’d known what we were getting ourselves into we might at least have reconsidered or just been too terrified to go through with it.

Monday, 21 November 2011

My first girl crush

This is the second blog post I wrote for my short-lived pre-wedding blog a couple of years ago. As you can see George Michael was on my mind, as was my personal journey into all things gay! Oh and I've since changed my mind about Careless Whisper, hearing it live and singing along with George at all those 25Live concerts made me love it much, much more than A Different Corner!

Our small wedding bouquet!

It’s now only seven days till I get married to Maria, the love of my life. It’s a scary thought. Of course I love her dearly, but forever is a long time. On the other hand I can’t wait to officially be her spouse instead of the hated 'girlfriend'. Girlfriend is such a safe word, and it makes it easy for everyone to pretend you’re best friends of highschool age instead of adult life partners.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

About me (2005 version)

Here is my very first blogpost of a few years ago. I wrote it for a short-lived blog that I started a few days before my marriage. It's pretty weird to see both how little and how much I've changed.

My wife and I got married in 2005

My name is Ada, short for Adaobi. I’m a black woman, I'm 38 years old and in 8 days I’m going to be legally married to my girlfriend of 10 years Maria. So I’m a lesbian and I could be living in the Netherlands or Belgium as these are the only two countries in the world right now where same-sex couples can legally marry. Thank God it’s the Netherlands, I like it here!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Why I love George Michael (2010 version)

This is an old piece about George Michael I found recently on my computer. It was written in 2010, a few months before George found himself on his own road to Damascus - otherwise known as the night he crashed his car into a Snappy Snaps store.

I’m a longtime George Michael fan. I love him, love his music. Admitting this fact is a bit like coming out, though. Sometimes you get the response you don’t want: "George Michael? Oh, isn’t he the guy who's always getting arrested for having sex in a public toilet of for using loads of drugs?" Um, not really. Or, at least he’s much, much more than that.

But yeah, he sometimes does stuff he really shouldn’t and gets arrested. And some arrests are easier to take than others. I actually giggled over the LA public toilet incident. Good for him for finding a big, flashy way of coming out. George is always one for a big entrance, be it opening that hidden door in his 25Live stage or opening the door of his very own glass closet. And let’s not forget this particular arrest was the inspiration for Outside. Both song and video are excellent. To say nothing about that smoking hot cop uniform he wore on the 25Live Tour. So in my book that one counts as a "good" arrest.

Finding a treasure at the back of your closet.

Yesterday evening I got busy with the computer equivalent of cleaning out my closet. I was  looking for a pdf-file on how to write a book proposal. Yes, like countless others who write for a hobby I want to write a book. With real people in it!
But where to start? Then I remembered that I once downloaded a instruction how to write a book proposal. I did a quick search in 'My Documents' and came up empty. Note to self: when downloading important stuff it's generally best to change the file name into something searchable. A filename like WritingABookProposal won't cut it!

So there I was looking through all my files when I came upon some old stuff I wrote for my first blog. Once upon a time I had a blog for about 10 minutes. I was blogging in the days before my wedding, as it was a very stressful time and writing usually helps me clear my mind. Blogging wasn't quite as easy then as it is now with blogger.com, so it wasn't right for me. Yet!

Reading some of the old stuff helped me escape out of the dark hell hole I've been in these last few days. My inner critic, that nasty inner voice we all have, was making life difficult for me with sweet nothings like: "You're a loser and a waste of space. You can't do anything right. You can't write. You bring nothing good to this world". And so on. Thank God this time the voice stopped just short of telling me no-one would even notice if I was gone, let alone miss me. No wonder I was feeling quite depressed.

I'm so glad I kept some of the stuff I wrote earlier because I can see now I've come quite a long way. And also because it tells me that I've always wanted to write. It's what keeps me sane. But most of all I was happy because I actually liked most of what I wrote back then! So there, inner critic!

So for the next few day I'll be blogging some fun old stuff. Next up: an ode to George Michael I wrote in 2010, a few months before the infamous Snappy Snaps incident.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Time to grieve

You can't outrun grief. I should know, because I tried. God, how I tried.

When your life seems to much to bear, everywhere else seems a better place to be. Out of your body, out of your mind. I've never taken illegal drugs of any kind; I'm prone to depression so it would be stupid and dangerous to mess around with drugs. But I understand the urge to do drugs very well. When you're suffering, any escape out of the pain, even a chemical one, sounds like a great idea.

But it's not. If you want to be connected to your future, you can't cut the line to your past, no matter how painful the past may be. Besides, running away from pain doesn't make it go away. It's still there, biding its time, waiting for you.
It also has this annoying tendency to slip through your defences and knock you out when you least expect it. Found that out the hard way! Trouble with venue-security at the Symphonica concerts touched at some old stuff and I cried for days on end, heartbroken.

But overall I had so much fun following the Symphonica Tour around! I loved seeing George Michael and all the Symphonica musicians up close so many times. It was great too meet a lot of new GM-friends in the venues and on-line. And I discovered I liked Twitter after all, as it's such an easy way of connecting with other people. Just perfect for someone as shy as I am.

But now it's time to stop running away. It's finally time to grieve.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Symphonica - Dutch Review Oberhausen (Nov. 9)

This is the Dutch review for the Symphonica show in Oberhausen on November 9. The English review is over here.

Vijf jaar geleden zag ik in Oberhausen mijn eerste 25Live concert en ik was blij met alles, de zaal, mijn plekje, het optreden van George. Vanavond hadden wij kaartjes voor rij 2, rechter buitenkant middenblok en toch maar twee stoelen verwijderd van het krukje van George. Ik was superblij met onze plekjes.

Going To A Town: such a gem of a song!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Symphonica - Gig Report Oberhausen November 9

So there I was, back in the König Pilsner Arena in Oberhausen where, a little over five years ago, I first saw and heard George Michael live. I'll never forget the moment when I first heard that beautiful voice coming at us over the sound system.We couldn't see him yet, only hear him; singing Waiting, such an appropriate choice. The red line on the videostage pulsated, that beautiful voice of his floated through the venue and then, to our utter amazement a door in the middle of the videostage opened and there he was. It was really him, clad in that wonderful sparkling black Armani suit, singing live! My wife and I got to our feet without even noticing it, tears in our eyes.

That night was truly unforgettable! This night, although very, very good, wasn't quite of that high calibre. Vocally though George was absolutely amazing! I still don't know what that yellow/orange stuff is that he keeps drinking all through the shows, but it works wonders. The days of the colds are definitely behind him, and his voice now consistently sounds great. A couple of weeks ago George tweeted about being able to "relax into the songs" and it's true, when you look at him giving this incredible performance it  looks so effortless. But surely it can't be, can it?

George in Oberhausen: " What's the use of pressing palms"

One sentence review: Oberhausen - A beautiful voice on display

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Symphonica - Dutch Review Royal Opera House Nov. 6

This is the Dutch review for November 6. The English review is over here.

George in een tuxedo

Royal Albert Hall blijft mijn lievelings-arena, hoe mooi de Royal Opera House ook is. De overeenkomsten tussen beide zalen zijn groot (allebei in de tijd van Queen Victoria gebouwd), de verschillen ook. Wat ons opviel is dat zodra je de Albert Hall binnenstapt je het gevoel krijgt terug in de tijd te stappen. Zelfs in de hal van de box-office zie je het beroemde rode pluche en de box office medewerkers zitten achter een ouderwetse balie van hout. Als je de ultra-moderne wit marmeren hal van de Opera House binnenloopt, heb je helemaal niet het gevoel dat je je in een oud gebouw bevind, eerlijk gezegd lijkt het nog het meest op de hal van een museum van moderne kunst.

De houding van de Royal Opera House is dan weer wel heel ouderwets. Waar ze in de Royal Albert Hall zich nergens (meer) te goed meer voor voelen (tennis, schaatsshows, films, ze vertonen het daar allemaal), kreeg je bij ROH het gevoel dat een popconcert toch net iets te ordinair voor hen was. Ze hebben wel popconcerten zo af en toe hoor, we zagen er nog een oude ROH poster van - of all people - Rufus Wainwright hangen, maar waarschijnlijk met frisse tegenzin. Terwijl meerdere personeelsleden van de Albert Hall mij toevertrouwden zelf ook kaartjes te hebben gekocht voor George!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Symphonica - Gig Report Royal Opera House November 6

This was always going to be a special night. A Symphonica concert for charity in the beautiful and venerable Royal Opera House! A mix of hardcore fans from all over the world, London-based fans and your usual Opera House crowd would be a sight to see. Plus George Michael and everybody working for Symphonica appearing before us in a tuxedo or beautiful dress. What's not to like?

But I had no idea it was going to be this great. It was an incredible night and I felt so lucky to be in the audience. For the longest time I wasn't sure if I should go  to this one, (the black-tie dress code scared me senseless) but I am so glad that in the end I got up the nerve to go in my nicest clothes. Two weeks ago I picked up my tickets at the box office and when I asked some more questions about the dress code the man handed me my tickets and said to me: "Just dress up and have fun!" I took his advice, relaxed about the dress-code and had indeed lots of fun.

George singing Cowboys and Angels: no sunglasses!
One sentence review: A truly magical night in the Royal Opera House

This is the English review, a link for Dutch review will be here when it is ready. You could always check for more updates on twitter (dutch_ada).

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Symphonica - Dutch Review for Dublin November 3

This is the Dutch review for November 3, the English review is here.

Ik weet nog goed dat we allemaal in het stof van de snelweg in de rij zaten bij dat kleine knusse The Point. En hoe slecht the Point bereikbaar was met het OV. 's Ochtends dropte de bus mij midden in het havengebied, en op mijn vraag welke kant ik in vredesnaam op moest maakte de buschauffeur een vaag armgebaar en reed laconiek weg.
Na de show zou er nog één bus gaan terug naar de stad. Dat was in ieder geval de theorie, in de praktijk was er in geen velden of wegen een bus te bekennen. Dat werd dus lopen, niet echt lekker als je een hele dag in de rij gestaan en aan het hek gehangen hebt.

Dat was toen! Inmiddels is Dublin een prachtig modern tramlijn netwerk rijker en blijkt The Point plotseling prima ontsloten. Na afloop van de show loop je relaxed naar de tramhalte naast The Point. Binnen 10 minuten stond ik op het busstation, op 5 minuten lopen van mijn B&B. Wat een verschil met 2007.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Symphonica - Gig Report Dublin November 3

The last time I went to the O2 Arena in Dublin was a little over 4 years ago; it was still a relatively small venue called The Point then. Saskia, a very nice Dutch George Michael fan, and I arrived at The Point at 5 AM. No, that's not a typo (I wish!), we really got there that early to bag ourselves of a front row spot. And would you believe it, we weren't even the first in line! GM-fans are nothing if not dedicated!
Having gotten to bed around 1 AM earlier the same night, after the first of George's two shows in Dublin, we were both knackered! Somewhere out there is a pic of Saskia and me, sitting in the queue and sleeping the sleep of the exhausted George Michael fan. But in the end it was all worth it because we got what we wanted: front row, right in front of the autocue. One of the best nights I had in 3 years of 25Live.

The Point turned red for George
For tonight I bought myself a front row spot, no queueing necessary, and thank heavens for that. The Point is now the O2 and completely changed inside and out. It's even more beautiful and even though some 6.000 seats were added it's still an intimate venue. I love The Point, definitely one of my favourite venues! Love the staff there as well, everyone is very friendly. And they are very safety-conscious, which I think is admirable! An example: we were all guided through a maze of crowd barriers to the Luas (Dublin tram) back to the city centre. No fuss, no pushing, staff on hand to guide us in the right direction and answer questions. Very well organised!

One sentence review: Dublin: George & crowd have a blast at Dublin: round two.

If you want to read the Dutch review, a link for that will appear here when it's ready. In the meantime you could check for updates on twitter (dutch_ada).

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Symphonica - Dutch review for RAH I, II and III

This is the Dutch review for all the 3 Royal Albert Hall shows. If you want to read the English reviews and recaplets, look here.

Het eerste Londen avontuur zit er op! Het was een enorm drukke week, met heel veel indrukken, met een matige George, een zieke George en twee keer een uitzinnig blije George! Maarmet  vooral, die fantastische, geweldig mooie Royal Albert Hall. Ik dacht al dat het bijzonder zou zijn om in die zaal te zitten, maar het was zelfs nog mooier dan ik me had voorgesteld. In één woord: schitterend!
Heel, heel erg jammer dat ik geen "Symphonica in a box" heb mogen meemaken omdat George die dag ziek was en het optreden niet doorging. We zullen wel zien of het gaat lukken om dat concert later nog in te halen, ik hoop het van harte. Voorlopig zijn mijn kaartjes héél goed opgeborgen, want een box in de Royal Albert Hall, dat lijkt me nu een feest.

Bev en het Nederlandse twitterteam hebben iedereen fantastisch op de hoogte gehouden omtrent de feiten over de concerten. Omdat zo zoetjes aan dus wel bekend is wat George zong, wat hij zei en hoe blij hij was om weer thuis te zijn beperk ik mij hier tot een aantal indrukken van de afgelopen week. Het zijn drie reviews in één dus het is een wat langer stuk geworden dan normaal.

Symphonica - Recaplet RAH III October 29

Records are made to be broken, and besides, second place is nice as well. Sniff. So the Dutch crowds no longer hold the titel of very best audience of the Symphonica Tour, the last audience of the Royal Albert Hall dates beat us fair and square. Well, it was to be expected. 

Saturday was such a fun night. George told us early on that he'd do his best to surpass Friday night's fun "because it was Saturday". Right! Good reason. But I have to admit he was right, Saturday was even better than Friday night. Everyone was having the time of their life.
I took a few pics of the backing vocalists and I'm not kidding - on every single pic there's this big, happy grin on their faces. I love how much they love the show, and George!

I saw mr. Lipmann sr. and mr. David Austin sitting just in front of me, with the sound people. And let me tell you, David has aged incredibly well, he was always quietly handsome but he's just  gorgeous now. It was so fun watching them chatting now and again. And here's a bit of gossip: the noise of the crowd was so loud that David put his fingers in his ears now and again, maybe he'd forgotten his earplugs. I giggled when I saw him cover his ears during John And Elvis Are Dead! Co-writer or not, it was just too much noise.

The manufacturer of the sound consoles boasts about the 'small footprint' of all that equipment that is needed to give us that famous George Michael sound. But let me tell you, that sound controlbox is huge! Room for lots of people. In the left part of the box, just in front of me there was all this equipment for lights and sound, one or two people at the controls, mr Lippman senior, mr. Austin ánd two or three other people. The right part was also quite full. There was more than enough room for the big camera that films George al the time and the guy who does the filming. Somewhere over there was the official GM.com blogger, Bev.


One sentence review:  Everybody has the time of their life!

This is the English recaplet, you can find the link for a longer Dutch review for all nights at RAH here

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Symphonica - Recaplet RAH II (Oct. 28)

The scene outside the Royal Albert Hall tonight, lots of smiling people standing around, happy that tonight's show was definitely happing, couldn't be more different than the scene on Wednesday.  

Then people were standing around in little groups, anxiously discussing the news amongst themselves: George Michael was ill and tonight's performance was cancelled. Everybody was looking bewildered, confused and very disappointed. I didn't see any angry faces though and I think that's remarkable, considering that cancelling/postponing a show like this come with a massive price-tag for all the fans. Some people flew in for just this one show, others like my wife and I booked a hotel for all RAH dates and were now wondering if George would cancel all his London dates. Thankfully, this was not the case.

The attitude of the fans was testament to how loyal most George Michael fans are! But we were all feeling a bit lost, and I think that went for the musicians as well. Henry Hey's tweet of later that night (to the pub? what to do) I thought summed up everyone's feelings perfectly.

But a lot can change in a few days and so George put on Tuesday's show on Friday. This must have been the triumphant homecoming he envisioned for himself on his first shownight back on English soil, in that most beautiful of venues, the Royal Albert Hall. With him on top of his game and the audience going crazy for him!

One sentence review: George is all better, things back to normal!

This is the English recaplet, a link for a longer Dutch review for all nights at RAH together will appear here when I am back home in the Netherlands again. You could always check for more updates on twitter (dutch_ada).

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Symphonica - Recaplet RAH I (Oct. 25)

First of all; the Royal Albert Hall is just amazing! What a beautiful building, it's like no other venue I've ever seen. I can't believe I've been inside a venue as great as the Arena di Verona and Royal Albert Hall within 2 months, with Royal Opera House still to come. Love it!

One sentence review: George is back home and loving it.

This is the English recaplet, a link for a longer Dutch review for all nights at RAH together will appear here when I am back home in the Netherlands again. You could always check for more updates on twitter (dutch_ada).

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Symphonica - Gig Report Rotterdam October 22

Well, we gave George Michael and the whole Symphonica gang a rousing send-off on the last night before they went home to dear old Blighty as they call it (English idiom is weird!). Everybody seemed more than ready to go (home) to England but I think they all enjoyed the last stopover before the Royal Albert Hall. Everything is in place, the show is now just like George envisioned it, or so he told us tonight.

I think it's safe to say George is ready to wow the home crowds, the long warm-up throughout mainland Europe is over. Backing vocalist Jay Henry asked us on twitter which of the pre-England shows were our favourites: for me it was the first night in Herning where George got so emotional, both nights in Verona, especially the second one where George was at his incredible best and of course the second night in Rotterdam where everything just clicked. Incredible memories!

One sentence review: Love is in the air for George and the Dutch Fans!

Please read on for more details of the night. If you prefer to read the Dutch in-depth review, a link for that will appear here as soon as it is ready. In the meantime I'll update you here.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Symphonica - Gig Report Rotterdam October 21

Today, on my way to Rotterdam, I was cleaning out my wallet, checking to see if I had brought all my train tickets. A little slip of paper that I hadn't seen in ages fell out. It was an old post-it, from last year. September/October 2010 to be precise. On the note was the address of Highpoint prison, I don't know why I'd written it down because after a few days I knew it by heart. I wrote George Michael every day (thought he might be in need of some fun stuff to read), telling him how much his music had meant to me over the years, sharing my best memories of 25Live with him. 

And now here we are, one year on. Symphonica is a big hit and I'm sharing my best memories of Symphonica with other ecstatic George Michael fans. If there's one thing being a GM-fan has taught me it is this: It's never too late, and there's always a possibility of another second chance (let's face it: he's had a few). It probably works best if you are as talented as George, have a voice like an angel and heaps of charisma! Still, I'd like to think that the principle applies to all of us and that thought gives me hope and inspires me.

Anyway, tonight it wasn't George that was given a second chance, it was us, the audience. Last week the crowd was very appreciative but it wasn't the all-out party the fans had hoped for. Köln and Verona beat us hands down and I didn't like it one little bit.

Tonight we got our revenge on all the other fantastic crowd. We all had a blast and even our lovely backing vocalists who'd confessed on twitter that they'd longed to go home were having so much fun. I loved every minute of this show and came away happy and grateful to be alive. What more can you ask for? Symphonica is the best non-chemical anti-depressant that nature has to offer.

One sentence review: Dutch Delight & a perfect dress rehearsal for RAH.



Pure emotion!

Please read on for more details of the night. Sorry, it's extra long again because it's a review of a Dutch Symphonica show. I promise RAH reviews will be shorter! If you prefer to read the Dutch review, a link for that will appear here as soon as it is ready. In the meantime I'll update you here.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Buying Symphonica tickets - part 1

I hate pre-sales for George Michael concerts with the passion of a thousand suns. Come to think of it, I hate buying George Michael tickets, period. It's very stressful, and because of my ptsd I don't handle stress well. At all! Buying tickets in a pre-sale or general sale gets filed under The things we do for George. And by "we" I mean "I"! Buying tickets is almost - but not quite - as bad as flying. Another thing I only do for George!

Now, with 7 concerts under my belt and a few more to come in Holland and the UK, I can hardly believe that I almost didn't buy any tickets for the Symphonica Tour. May - the month of the pre-sales -  was not a good time for me; I was seriously depressed and just starting on my journey of delayed grief. So when I read the email announcing the Symphonica Tour my initial thought was: "Not now, George! ".

Friday, 14 October 2011

Symphonica - Dutch review Rotterdam (October 10)

This is the Dutch review for Rotterdam, October 10. The English review is over here.

Een paar maanden geleden beschreef ik mijn hoop dat George Michael na een paar zomers vol schandalen de aankomende herfst nu eindelijk eens om de juiste redenen (goede recensies voor Symphonica) in de kranten zou staan. Wel, hij staat in alle kranten, en de reviews van de afgelopen maanden zijn inderdaad overwegend positief tot zeer positief! Hoera voor George! Ik ben erg blij voor hem, het is hem na de afgelopen jaren van harte gegund.

Ik blijf me verbazen over die man. Hij is zo heerlijk recalcitrant. Je zou verwachten dat hij na alle ellende of met een langdurige radiostilte of met een knaller à la Outside op de proppen zou komen. Maar nee, zijn comeback is een ingetogen cover van True Faith, mét stemvervormer. Hij had van tevoren kunnen inschatten dat een behoorlijk deel van de fans daar problemen mee zou hebben. Zo dol op vernieuwing zijn we als fan community nu eenmaal niet. Nostalgie naar de eigen jeugd of tienerjaren is immers één van de pijlers (gelukkig niet de belangrijkste) van het succes van George. En daarbij is geen plaats voor autotune of vocoder. Ik moet bekennen dat ik zelf ook een huh?-reactie had bij de eerste kennismaking met True Faith, maar bij de tweede keer luisteren was ik verkocht. Schitterend! En toch een perfecte comeback single, omdat hij zo duidelijk een nieuwe muzikale periode van George inluidt. Want wat George verder ook moge zijn, bang om het gebaande en zeer succesvolle muzikale pad te verlaten is hij zeker niet.

En dan nu deze Symphonica Tour. Ook daarin toont George zich weer lekker dwars. Geen jaren tachtig party, geen Greatest Hits show, geen podium rekwisieten, geen wervelende show van mooie dansers, maar alleen die onvoorstelbaar mooie stem die centraal staat. Zo puur! En het moet gezegd, als George vol plezier en energie op het podium staat, is alleen die stem spetterende show genoeg!

Meer details na de jump!

Symphonica - Dutch Review Brussels (October 8)

This is the Dutch review for Brussels, October 8. The English review is over here.

Wat was ik blij dat ik op het allerlaatste moment toch nog kaartje had gekocht voor Brussel! Want George klonk weer ouderwets fantastisch! En eigenlijk nog belangrijker, hij stond weer in blij contact met de zaal. Maar wat had hij een haast! Mijn vrouw zei dat buiten op de gevel van Vorst Nationaal ook precies aangegeven stond dat het concert tot 22.30 zou duren! Er waren duidelijke afspraken over gemaakt!

De sfeer zat er in Brussel vanaf het allereerste begin lekker in. Nu is Vorst Nationaal een ronde zaal, dat hielp ook wel om het extra intiem te maken. Ik zat wéér recht voor George maar dit keer op rij 12, tussen twee grote kerels in, die allebei overduidelijk super fan waren. Leuk, mannelijke fans! Weer eens wat anders dan alle vriendinnenclubjes.

Meer details na de jump!

Symphonica - Dutch Review Antwerp (October 7)

This is the Dutch review for Antwerp, October 7. My review in English is over here.

Uit zeer welingelichte kringen (georgette van Planet George!) heb ik vernomen dat het Antwerpse publiek wel vaker wat lauw reageert op een concert. Helaas deden ze hun reputatie vrijdag alle eer aan, ik vond het publiek nogal gereserveerd. Nu scheelt het natuurlijk wel dat mijn laatste concert vóór Antwerpen dat superpubliek in Verona was. Na die heksenketel lijkt elk volgend publiek mat.

De rol van security
Ik zal me dit concert vooral herinneren als het concert waar ik me een rotje ben geschrokken! Ik kreeg een waarschuwing van een over-ijverige security medewerker dat ik niet mocht filmen. Eerlijk gezegd vind ik het nog steeds belachelijk. George was net begonnen aan Russian Roulette en ik zat me helemaal te verheugen op een goede opname, vanaf rij 2, pal voor zijn krukje. Komt er plotseling een mevrouw aanlopen vóór de eerste rij lang! Ze wringt zich min of meer voor de persoon die voor mij zat om tegen mij te sissen dat ik niet mocht filmen. Daar ging mijn kans op een goed filmpje! En ik vraag me af wat voor George nu precies een grotere afleiding was, mijn camera of zo'n mens dat midden in een nummer pal voor zijn neus gaat staan!
Overigens vond ik het nog hypocriet ook, want nog geen 10 minuten later haalde diezelfde vrouw halverwege Feeling Good een hele horde mensen, veelal met camera in de aanslag, naar voren.

Die trek naar voren begint namelijk steeds vroeger! Het is net als bij 25Live. In oktober 2006 kon je nog prima een plekje vooraan krijgen als je rond 16.00 aan kwam zetten, bij de laatste show in 2008 hebben mensen de hele nacht buiten geslapen om dat felbegeerde plekje aan het hek veilig te stellen. Dat wordt nog wat!

Meer details na de jump!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Symphonica - Gig Report Brussels (October 8)

This weekend in Belgium I saw my 25th and 26th George Michael concert in 6 years and I've yet to hear George Michael give a bad vocal performance. He's consistently great!

So why is that then some shows are unforgettable while others are 'just' good or very good? I think that this nebulous quality called energy is a big part of it. When George is on top of his game, his energy completely fills the stage and we can all see that he loves his job: singing for us. The crowd always picks up on that and responds in kind. Because we all love our job of making George feel appreciated, loved even.
In Brussels George and the audience were feeding off of each other in a positive way right from the start, and I knew this show was going to be memorable.

Praying For Time

One sentence review: George loves Brussels and the feeling is mutual!

Please read on for more details of the night. If you prefer to read the Dutch in-depth review, that's over here.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Symphonica - Gig Report Rotterdam (October 10)

When George Michael announced the Symphonica Tour I was so pleased to see Rotterdam on the tour schedule. While George may not quite be King George over here, as he is in Denmark, the Dutch people have much love for George so he always has a good time here.

The first show sold out in minutes, and a second date was added. Demand was still high, so Team George Michael found a place for a third date in the already crowded schedule for October, funnily enough about two weeks before the other shows. So it was this third date crowd, comprised mostly of casual concert goers and only a few hard core George Michael fans, that won the prize of welcoming George to the Netherlands. Fortunately we all did a good job, I don't think George has a problem with coming back in 10 days time! But we didn't get an "I love you" so come on people, there's room for improvement!

The Stage in Rotterdam. Beautiful
One sentence review: George and the Symphonica Gang throw a Dutch party

Please read on for the rest of this extra long review. Sorry for the excessive length, but George is finally in my own country and I want to tell all!! If you prefer to read the Dutch review, that's over here.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Symphonica: Gig Report Antwerp (October 7)

For a while now, I've been closely monitoring the @GeorgeMichael tweets, reading the public messages my fellow GM-fans send to George.What's immediately apparent is this: George Michael is loved - deeply and truly loved - by his many fans. So many of us have invited George's music and George himself into our lives at a fairly young age, and have clearly rejoiced ever since in having him join us on our walk through life. So much so in fact, that judging from twitter, you'd think George went around performing miracles left and right. And in a way he is, just not the 'healing the sick' variety.

I've been privileged to see the effect George Michael has on his fans up close a few times and it's always a touching and somewhat humbling experience. Tonight was no exception.
In the seat next to me a woman all the way from Brazil saw her lifetime dream of seeing George Michael live come true. From time to time I glanced to the left to see how she was enjoying her very first George Michael concert. The rapturous, intense look on her face said it all. She was leaning forward in her seat, wanting to be even closer to him than she was in row 2, taking in his every word and gesture - and being completely oblivious to the rest of her surroundings. It was a wonderful sight.
To the right of me was a Dutch man, another big time fan. He was also getting his first taste of Symphonica and by the looks of it loving every minute of it. Tapping his feet to the beat, swaying in his seat during the ballads and whooping with delight after every song, he appeared to be having one of the best if not the best nights of 2011!

What must it be like to be George Michael, to know that you have the ability to affect people in this way? Changing people's life for the better, sometimes forever (as was the case for me because his courage inspired me to educate high school kids about diversity and gay rights), sometimes just for the duration of a concert, that is performing a miracle.

One sentence review: George wows "every other lovely in the world" (TM @TanteGeraldine) in Antwerp

Please read on for more details of the night. If you prefer to read the Dutch in-depth review, that's over here.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Symphonica - Dutch Review Verona (Sept. 14)

This is the Dutch review for the George Michael Symphonica concert of September 14. The English review is over here.

De Engelse review voor 14 september was al behoorlijk compleet, toch nog een paar observaties na mijn eerste 4 Symphonica bezoekjes.

Die Italiaanse fans maken heel veel geluid maar waren - althans in Verona - heel keurig. Schuin voor mij waren twee plaatsen leeg, en die bleven ook leeg! In Ahoy zouden die plekjes binnen 10 seconden opgevuld zijn. Maar nu zat ik dus effectief op rij 3, met zo goed als vrij zicht op George. Eindelijk goede filmpjes (link naar WIHYA)!

Groeien en bloeien van de show
Het leuke van een complexe show als deze (bijna) vanaf het allereerste begin volgen is dat je ziet hoe de show gaandeweg gestalte krijgt, er wordt nog steeds aan het concept gesleuteld. Een paar dingen die me opgevallen zijn.

Ik vermaak me kostelijk met het gluren naar het orkest, super interessant om te zien hoe dat zo'n beetje reilt en zeilt. Om te beginnen kun je merken dat ze de afgelopen weken hebben gezocht naar een manier om alle 'toppers' hun eigen moment te geven om te schitteren. Zo zit er nu, in ieder geval sinds Keulen, een shout-out voor het hele orkest (Ladies & Gentlemen: the Symphonica Orchestra!!) in het midden van Brother, Can You Spare A Dime. Onlangs hebben ze dat stuk nog zwaarder aangezet. Ik zat in Verona vlakbij de Arena in het zonnetje te luisteren naar de soundcheck en toen hoorde ik het orkest dit stuk oefenen. Zo gaaf!
Ook de harpist heeft zijn eigen spotlight en shout-out, tijdens I Remember You. En George's eigen band en zijn achtergrond zangers komen natuurlijk met zijn allen naar voren vlak vóór de medley om voorgesteld en bedankt te worden.

Ik wist overigens niet dat je ook 'rondreizende' klassieke musici had, een soort klassieke sessie-muzikanten dus. Voor diegenen die geen toegang hebben tot de All Aeccess blog op de officiële site: het Symphonica orkest bestaat uit een vaste kern van 11 musici, die allemaal individueel zijn ingehuurd voor deze tour. De vaste kern wordt aangevuld met 'losse' musici van wisselende nationaliteit, afhankelijk van waar het GM circus neergestreken is. Erg knap dat al die mensen met een ongetwijfeld minimale rehearsal tijd toch zo goed samen kunnen spelen. Ach het zijn natuurlijk ook de besten in hun vak, want voor minder doet George het niet.

Meer details na de jump.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Tough Job: All Aeccess blogger for GeorgeMichael.com

Here in the Netherlands we have this TV show called: Real Men. It's all about big, burly men doing tough jobs like logging in Oregon or driving trucks over frozen ice. Impressive stuff and you find yourself thinking: "Thank Goodness I don't have to do that for a living".

Tough jobs come in all shapes and sizes though. These last few weeks I read about, had email conversations with and eventually met in person (twice!) a lovely woman with a different kind of tough job.
Meet Lindsay: official All Aeccess blogger for GeorgeMichael.com. She couldn't look more different than those big, tough guys; she's just a slip of a girl.

Lindsay at the Köln show, busy as always
(pic courtesy of @GeorgeMichaelNL)
I've written some stuff about the concept of fandom on this blog, because the subject endlessly fascinates me. Something tells me that Lindsay, in spite of working for the organisation that handles George's website, hadn't had much experience with superfans 'in the wild' so to speak, before she took a plane to Prague for her first stint of touring.

I won't lie, the start wasn't easy for her. The fans, some (heh) of them just a tad jealous about her presumed close proximity to George Michael, watched her like a hawk to see if this lucky girl would slip up, make mistakes. And of course she did, like we all do when starting a new job.

When you work with real fans, you'll soon discover that they are often more knowledgeable about their idol than you are. Fans dedicated enough to come to multiple shows or buy an Aeccess Membership all know about the video of Roxanne - they probably know the exact date the footage was shot in Amsterdam as well!
And though I have to admit to giggling about her suggestion of skipping the last song before the break to enjoy the luxury of a private trip to the bathroom, I'll never know how she sneaked that past her editors/bosses. Especially since Brother, Can You Spare Me A Dime is such a cracker of a song!

Lindsay was a trooper though, and took all the criticism of  George's 'lovelies' on the chin. And then she got into her stride. Her blogging got very good and funny, giving us her take on the shows and interesting background information about life on the tour(bus) and soundchecks. She even gave us a few rounds of the sound check game.
And she was nice to us! She emailed me a few times and I heard from several other people that she took the time to email them personally in the few hours between travels she could get herself and her laptop to a wi-fi point. Very good of her, especially if you saw how incredibly busy she was. Always having to blog against a deadline isn't easy!

While she admits that life on the tour is tough for her, I'm sure that once she's home again and reunited with puppy Dexter and her husband her time with Symphonica will seem a lot more glamorous and fun (time and distance will take care of that!).
And she'll have enough stories to dine out on for years to come. Even though she wasn't exactly travelling in the inner GM circles, I'm sure she saw some funny stuff she can't tell us about. (Pity!)

I'm not sure if George Michael is aware how much great work Lindsay did for him and his 'lovelies', but we sure are. Thanks Lindsay!

Thinking about Where I Hope You Are

Some more thoughts about the new George Michael song Where I Hope You Are. It's not the full review I want to write about this wonderful song, I'll hold off on that until the CD single comes out. These are just some thoughts about how this song affected me.
George's music is deeply personal, but can still lead all of us on our own emotional journey, that's the beauty of the way he writes. This is where Where I Hope You Are led me.

I'm a survivor. I survived being born amidst the horrors of a brutal  civil war in Nigeria. I survived the death of my mother of starvation when she was still nursing me. I almost died from hunger too after her death when there was no food left to give to me, but I survived even then.
I'm a survivor; it's what I do. Now if I only could forgive myself for surviving I'd be all set.

These last few weeks have been so much fun! Going to four (!) George Michael concerts in as many weeks in three different countries was incredible. Meeting up with old friends from the George Michael fan community and making new GM friends at the concerts and online (twitter, yay!) was great.
And in spite of all that, or maybe because of all that, today I'm sad beyond words. I miss my mum. I think she misses me too. And that thought makes me feel so sad. And so guilty.

It's not my fault she's dead, enemies of the Igbo tribe murdered her by starving her and hundreds of thousands of Igbo people to death. I'm sure that nursing me depleted what little resources she had left after fleeing, while heavily pregnant with me, across the country back to Igbo territory together with her husband and 3 small children. Still not my fault, I didn't kill her.

I know all that but I still want to beg her forgiveness and say: "I'm so sorry that I'm still alive and you're dead. I'm sorry that today I'm enjoying the sun on my face in the Netherlands while all that remains of you are dusty bones in the earth of a village in Nigeria. I'm just so sorry, mum".

Looking back on it, I guess that's why Where I Hope You Are hit me so hard when I first heard it in Herning. The way George Michael kept singing "I'm so sorry" broke my heart. With every "sorry" his head dropped a little lower and his voice got a little more emotional. He truly was sorry, even the most cynical person on earth could see that. That particular performance of Where I Hope You Are almost felt like a public penance to me, and it affected me deeply. I cried my eyes out.

And guilt? Well, I'll bet George Michael feels quite guilty too about the way things turned out. It's very hard to realise that the person you love the most is the person you've hurt the most. I've been there, I guess everyone in a long-time relationship has been there at one time or another.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Symphonica - Gig Report Verona (September 14)

Second night at Verona and you'd think George Michael couldn't possible be as good as he was yesterday. Well, he was even better. Way better. The reception he got yesterday must have done him a world of good because he was just walking on water today.

Tonight's concert was a big old love-in. Every person in the audience loved George and he loved us right back. He even told us he loved us and he doesn't do that often.  He came on stage with a huge grin on his face. And, some of the sad ballads aside, that grin never left his face again that nightI have to say: happy is a great colour for him.

One sentence review: Lightning strikes twice in Verona

Please read on for more details of the night. If you prefer to read the Dutch in-depth review, it's over here.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Symphonica - Dutch Review Verona (September 13)

This is the Dutch review for Verona, September 13. My review in English is over here.

Een stropdas, en dat met die hitte!

George zei het al in zijn eerste praatje: Let's hear it for Verona!! Absoluut, wat een onvergetelijke, bijzondere Arena en wat een bijzondere avond. Ik kan nog steeds niet helemaal geloven dat ik er bij geweest ben. Dit is echt zo'n avond die je nooit meer vergeet.

Na de jump meer details over deze bijzondere avond.

Symphonica - Gig Report Verona (September 13)

When you've been through hell, and I guess George Michael knows his way around over there, it's so great when life gives you an unexpected big gift to sort of make up for all the heartache. Singing to an ecstatic crowd in a historical arena on a beautiful, warm summer night might just be such a gift so I hope tonight was as magical and unforgettable for George as it was for us, his fans.

One sentence review: A perfect George in a perfect Arena

Please read on for more details of the night. If you prefer to read the Dutch review, that is over here.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

9/11 Ten years on

What is there left to say about September 11, 2001? Maybe all should be silence. RIP: all the people who died that day and in the wars that followed.

Where was I when I heard the news? Well, I was at work, because 9 AM in New York equals 3 PM in the Netherlands. I vividly remember a colleague coming into my office to tell me the news and me laughing in his face in disbelief. Planes flying into buildings? It just couldn't be true, could it? But it was. And the world changed.

Strangely enough my first thoughts of compassion were for those people on the planes, knowing they were being made into a living, dying bomb. No way out. Some of the people in the Towers had a small chance of getting out, they had none.
Then I thought of all the ordinary people working in or near the Twin Towers, going to work today that fateful day with no idea of how terrible a day it was going to be. Acts of terrorism and war destroy the lives of the innocents first and foremost.

CNN.com was down, internet news sites all over the world were down, everyone scrambling to get news updates. In a moment of  inspiration I turned to eBay.com, their messageboards were still functioning. It was unreal, reading about death, destruction and terrorism on the site I had used so much over the years for the innocent pleasure of adding stuff to my various collections. In an seemingly endless thread, post after post told of grief, terror and pain.

Then, and I will never forget this, I saw these words in caps: SECOND TOWER DOWN. More powerful than any image these 3 words for me sum up the horror of  September 11, 2001.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Symphonica, Dutch Review Köln (September 7)

This is the Dutch review for the Köln Symphonica show. The English review is over here.

Er staan al heel veel details over de show van gisteravond in de Engelstalige review. Ik probeer dubbelingen zoveel mogelijk te voorkomen. Dit zijn dus zijn nog wat aanvullingen, voor de mensen op Planet George en andere geïnteresseerden.

Het was weer een bijzondere avond. Om te beginnen werd ik opgewacht door Lindsay van de Aeccess blog van GeorgeMichael.com voor een mini-interviewtje. Complete verrassing, en erg leuk. Eerlijk gezegd, gewoon super cool! Squee! Alleen was ik zo overdonderd dat ik er helemaal niet aan dacht om mijn kleren goed recht te trekken voor de foto. Ik houd mijn hart vast, lol.
Lindsay was heel aardig. Die meid werkt echt hartstikke hard, dat kan je zo zien. Ze zitten veel in de bus, en dan heeft ze dus geen beschikking over internet. Dat moet vreselijk lastig zijn, want dan loop je dus voortdurend achter de feiten aan. Zodra je weer verbinding hebt liggen er natuurlijk stapels emails op je te wachten. Nou ja, ze ziet - neem ik aan gratis - heel veel shows, dus verschrikkelijk sneu is ze ook weer niet.

Ik ook niet overigens, want mijn plekje op de 3e rij van het zijblok was stukken beter dan ik verwacht had. Bijna geheel vrij zicht op het gehele podium en schuin zicht op George. Achter mij zat een Engelse (of Ierse?) fan waarmee ik nog in de rij had gezeten bij The Point in Dublin. Ik blijf me er maar over verbazen hoe klein het fanwereldje goedbeschouwd is.

Enfin, na het gesprekje met Lindsay was er nog maar weinig tijd om alles in gereedheid te brengen:  pen omhangen, notitieblokje in de jaszak, de twittertelefoon voor het grijpen, fotocamera met polsbandje om de pols en GAAN.

De Lanxess Arena staat in de stijgers. De show niet, ondanks de verschuivingen in de setlist . Om in bouwtermen te blijven: Symphonica staat als een huis. George voelt zich duidelijk helemaal thuis bij zijn materiaal en lijkt haast nog meer plezier te beleven aan het zingen van de covers dan zijn eigen werk. Hij geniet van de show, zoveel is wel duidelijk.

Na de jump nog meer details.

Symphonica - Gig Report Köln (September 7)

When George Michael is happy on stage, he is very happy indeed. That wonderful 100 Watt smile of his can light up an place as big at the Lanxess Arena. It's very obvious George is overjoyed to be back doing what he does so well. It's equally obvious that his fans are over the moon to have him back.
There's a lot of love in the air during these concerts, flowing from the audience to George and - rather  more unusual for stars as big as he is - the other way round. It's a quite a special feeling to be part of it all.

There is this one line in Through, the opening song of the show.
They may chase me to the ends of the world, but I got you, babe.
On the first night in Herning he pointed to all of us in the audience, telling us with this one gesture that he's glad we're there for him now that he's hurting so. He didn't do that tonight but even so it's clear that singing for us night after night makes a difference. I'm just so glad that we can help him in some little way. After all, his music has helped so many of us through times of heartache and sorrow it's only right to give something back to him if we can.

One sentence review: George brings a magical night to Köln


Please read on for more details of the night. If you prefer to read the Dutch in-depth review, you can find that here.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Symphonica - Vids and Pics from Herning (August 29)


The concert in Herning on August 29 was my first of the Symphonica Tour and man, was I busy!
I was tweeting just before the start of the concert, in the break and just after the concert when we were stuck in traffic leaving the Arena parking lot.
I shot some very wobbly videos, and took a few pictures, most of which turned out blurry - that left hand of George is the bane of photographers everywhere. Between songs I jotted down some quick notes about the show, trying to juggle camera, pen and notebook.

But more importantly: I drank it all in, seeing George Michael up close again, falling instantly in love with Let Her Down Easy, Going To A Town and most of all Russian Roulette. I was completely taken by surprise by the emotional atmosphere, crying throughout True Faith, You've been loved and of course Where I Hope You are. Back in our hotel I worked through the night, writing reviews. It was an unforgettable experience; I loved every second of it and can't wait to do it all again. Next stop: Köln.

Learned some valuable lessons:
  • It's best to hold a camera steady
  • Gotta practice with that zooming thingy some more.
  • Also, unless your voice is pretty great (mine really isn't), you'd better not sing along when you're filming as the camera will pick that up. Ruined a rather good video of the medley that way!
  • Uploading HD videos takes forever, that's what's the nights are for.
  • Bring Kleenex, lots of it.
Despite some beginners faults I got some priceless George Michael memories out of the Herning trip. You can find some new photos and all the videos I uploaded after the jump.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Symphonica, video Where I Hope You Are (August 29)

This song is just so beautiful, and so sad. I can't even begin to imagine what it must cost him to sing it night after night.
I'll write some more about this song at a later date, for now I just want to share it with you. I haven't put it on my Youtube channel, I don't want just anyone to see it and maybe make fun of George. This is just for us fans.

Now to explain about the wobbly bit in the middle, sorry for that.
 As you can tell from the first half of the video, my new camera has a powerful (12 x) zoom. Because I was sitting so close to George (3rd row) it's as if  you can see even behind his eyes. As I saw him struggling to keep his emotions in check I started to feel very bad for being 'in his face' with my stupid little camera.
Wanting to give him the privacy he deserves I started to zoom out. And then changed my mind again. I loved the song, loved the performance, heartbreaking as it was. So I zoomed in again, but not as close as before, and because filming is not exactly my forte I promptly botched up the zooming action.

You can tell from the first few seconds of Praying For Time when he is turning away from the audience for a bit, that he was still somewhat emotional. We all were! Fortunately, during Praying For Time it got better.

Van Herning, August 29

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Symphonica, video True Faith (Herning, Aug. 29)

I'm back home from Herning, but the emotion from the George Michael concert is still with me. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, joyful, amazing. Almost too many emotions to handle. I'm spinning.

Here is a clip of one of high points of the concert, True Faith. At the start of the clip images are very shaky, sorry. It gets better after a while. I was just so excited that George was gonna sing this beautiful song for us.

The new camera - a Panasonic Lumix TZ 8 - is great, though, crystal clear images and sound is not too bad. Now if I could only learn to hold it still, even with George Michael standing a few feet away....

The song starts about 1 minute in; first it's time for a "proper Good Evening Herning". Heh.

True Faith
Van True Faith (Herning)

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Symphonica Tour - Dutch Review Herning (29 Aug.)

This is the in-depth Dutch review of the Symphonica concert in Herning on August 29. The English review is over here, it is somewhat shorter but well, in English.


Wat een fantastische avond! Het was geweldig en zo intens en emotioneel. Ik had eigenlijk niet verwacht dat George Michael al zo vroeg in de tour al zo onvoorstelbaar zou schitteren. Het zou niet gek zijn geweest als hij na jaren van rust (die 3 optredens in Australië kun je nauwelijks meetellen, toch) weer een beetje op gang had moeten komen. Maar nee hoor, op volle snelheid uit de startblokken. Heel knap, je kan merken dat die jaren van 25Live nu gewoon in zijn lichaamsgeheugen opgeslagen zijn.

We hadden een ongelooflijk goed plekje, derde rij, precies in het midden van het podium. George zat echt recht vóór ons op een paar meter afstand. Onvoorstelbaar. We zaten zo dichtbij dat we hem dwars  door de onvermijdelijke zonnebril heen in de ogen konden kijken. We konden het echt zien als hij geëmotioneerd was, en dat gebeurde een paar keer. We hebben zijn tranen gezien maar gelukkig ook veelvuldig die heerlijke, brede lach.

Ik denk dat hij al met al een goede avond heeft gehad - het publiek droeg hem,  zoals gebruikelijk in Denemarken, op handen en zijn stem was fenomenaal goed. Qua energie vond ik dit concert vergelijkbaar met de tweede avond van de Final Two, zo bijzonder was het. Qua emotie vond ik het ongeëvenaard, ik heb dit niet eerder meegemaakt.

Hij ziet er goed uit. Hij is momenteel heel slank, maar niet zo uitgeteerd mager als aan het eind van 25Live. Toen kreeg je het gevoel dat hij wellicht niet zo goed voor zichzelf zorgde, dat is nu niet zo.  Hij is heel beweeglijk op het podium, danst ook vaak tijdens de nummers. Maakt ook bijzonder goed contact met het publiek, dat is echt één van zijn sterke punten. En afgezien van een slippertje tijdens Freedom was hij gisteren zo goed als tekstvast. Er waren wel twee zeer discreet opgestelde auto-cues maar ik heb hem er zelfs niet naar zien kijken. Ik denk echt dat hij een ander mens is geworden door hoe hij nu in het leven staat.

De rest van de review - met spoilers - kun je lezen na de jump.

Symphonica Tour: Gig Report (Herning, August 29 2011)

Almost three years to the day (August 30, 2008) I saw George Michael perform live for the very last time - or so we thought at the time. As luck would have it, this was also in Denmark (they worship him over there). It was a great concert, a fitting goodbye to 25Live.

And now, three years on, George Michael is back in front of a Danish audience.
This show couldn't be more different from 25Live. George Michael has reinvented himself once again as a performer.

But no matter what he does, whether he's accompanied by a single guitarist, a 15-piece band or a whole symphonic orchestra, one thing remains constant: he's George Michael. And George Michael equals perfection. Nothing else will do.

One sentence review: He's back and he is better than ever!


Please read on for more details of the night (with spoilers). If you prefer to read the Dutch in-depth review,  you can find that here.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Celebrating 25Live - Gig Report Copenhagen (August 31, 2008)

For the Dutch Planet George Forum I wrote 10 in-depth gig reports. Here is the gig report for the last night of 25Live in 2008 - or so we thought at the time. He would do one more show in IIRc Dubai a few months later and in 2010 he did 3 more stand-alone shows in Australia.

Please read on for the in-depth review (in Dutch). Don't speak Dutch? You might want to take a look at my 25Live review of 2008.

Celebrating 25Live - Gig Report London (August 25, 2008)

For the Dutch Planet George Forum I wrote 10 in-depth gig reports. Here is the gig report for the second night of the two shows that together were known as the Final Two. It was a fantastic night, everything just clicked. The crowd was great, and George was incredible. I'm so grateful that this night was filmed for the brilliant DVD George Michael Live in London.

Please read on for the in-depth review (in Dutch). Don't speak Dutch? You might want to take a look at my 25Live review of 2008.

Celebrating 25Live - Gig Report London (August 24, 2008)

For the Dutch Planet George Forum I wrote 10 in-depth gig reports. Here is the gig report for the first of the two concerts that together were know as Final Two. It was George's first concert in his hometown London for more than a year. He was very glad to be home but a bit subdued, perhaps because of the cameras that were filming the concert for a DVD.

Please read on for the in-depth review (in Dutch). Don't speak Dutch? You might want to take a look at my 25Live review of 2008.

Celebrating 25Live - Gig Report Washington (July 29, 2008)

For the Dutch Planet George Forum I wrote 10 in-depth gig reports. Here is the gig report for the excellent 25Live concert in Washington, July 2008. It was a fantastic night, George was obviously very happy with the way things were going for him in the US.

Please read on for the in-depth review (in Dutch). Don't speak Dutch? You might want to take a look at my 25Live review of 2008.

Celebrating 25Live - Gig Report New York (July 23, 2008)

For the Dutch Planet George Forum I wrote 10 in-depth gig reports. Here is the gig report for the second of two 25Live concerts in New York (Madison Square Garden) in July 2008. It was a terrific night, with 4 encores! George was having a great time!

Please read on for the in-depth review (in Dutch). Don't speak Dutch? You might want to take a look at my 25Live review of 2008.

Celebrating 25Live - Gig Report New York (July 21, 2008)

For the Dutch Planet George Forum I wrote 10 in-depth gig reports. Here is the gig report for the first of two 25Live concerts in New York (Madison Square Garden) in July 2008. It was a terrific night, George confessed during the show that he'd hardly slept because of nerves. Being sleep-deprived made him quite talkative!

Please read on for the in-depth review (in Dutch). Don't speak Dutch? You might want to take a look at my 25Live review of 2008.

Celebrating 25Live - Gig Report Belfast (August 4, 2007)

For the Dutch Planet George Forum I wrote 10 in-depth gig reports. Here is the gig report for the last 25Live concert of 2007 in Belfast in August 2007. It was a unforgettable night, George had a terrific time loving all the love from the audience.

Please read on for the in-depth review (in Dutch). Don't speak Dutch? Don't speak Dutch? You might want to take a look at my 25Live review of 2007.

Celebrating 25Live - Gig Report Dublin (August 2, 2007)

For the Dutch Planet George Forum I wrote 10 in-depth gig reports. Here is the gig report for the second of the two 25Live concerts in Dublin in August 2007. It was a great night, George was a little bit tired because they'd had a crew party the night before. But he and the band and the backing singers still gave their all! We queued for a whole day (and part of the night) to get a front row spot and it was all worth it.

Please read on for the in-depth review (in Dutch). Don't speak Dutch? You might want to take a look at my 25Live review of 2007.

Celebrating 25Live - Gig Report Dublin (August 1, 2007)

For the Dutch Planet George Forum I wrote 10 in-depth gig reports. Here is the gig report for the first of the two 25Live concerts in Dublin in August 2007. It was a terrific night, George gave an outstanding vocal performance! We queued for a whole day to get a front row spot and it was all worth it.

Please read on for the in-depth review (in Dutch). Don't speak Dutch? You might want to take a look at my 25Live review of 2007.

Celebrating 25Live - Gig Report Vienna (July 13 2007)

For the Dutch Planet George Forum I wrote 10 long gig reports. Here is the gig report for the 25Live concert in Vienna in July 2007. It was a wonderful night, George had fun! The Viennese audience was extremely loud and enthusiastic.

Please read on for the in-depth review (in Dutch). Don't speak Dutch? You might want to take a look at my 25Live review of 2007.

Celebrating 25Live - part 3 (2008)

In 2008 the long awaited American Tour finally happened. And we were there! We’d always wanted to visit America, so we were happy to plan our holiday around George Michael’s tour dates in 2 big cities: New York and Washington. We were far less happy with the dates of the tour, smack in the middle of July, one of the hottest months of the year. I’ve never been so hot! And I've been to Nigeria, not exactly a cold spot.

But in the end it was all worth it. George gave three fine performances, clearly very happy to be back in the land of his worst tour experience (Faith Tour). This time around he had a great time! And we did too!

The GM trucks outside the venue in Washington

2008: showman George
In 2008 George Michael had evolved again into a real showman. His voice was getting better and better. His dance moves got more exuberant and certainly more sexy. He also got much better at talking to the crowds, some nights the problem was getting him to shut up!

There were significant changes to the setlist.  George's American audience had sort of lost track of him after Faith, so this new setlist was heavy on the Faith stuff.
Also he put mixes in there, a big surprise for me. Loved it, some of my favourite mixes were in there (Spinning the Wheel, Fastlove, I’m your man). He also sang Feeling Good, a Nina Simone cover. He’d recorded this song for the series finale of tv-show Eli Stone. 
And to my utter delight One More Try was added to the setlist. The Gospel Version! I’ve always said George should do a gospel album, he’s got just such a beautiful voice for that kind of music. Well, a girl can dream.

Wanna see what shows I went to in 2008 and how very good George was? Please read on for 6 mini-reviews.


Saturday, 27 August 2011

Celebrating 25Live - part 2 (2007)

Now that Symphonica: The Orchestral Tour has begun I'm feeling all nostalgic for George Michael's last tour, 25Live. I thought it would be fun to look back at 25Live and share some of my memories. This entry: a closer look at 2007.

One of the best moments of the last 25Live concert of 2006 came when George Michael announced that he was going to do it all again very soon. The audience roared! We were all so excited; we couldn't wait to see our man in action again.

And then came the news that George was planning a stadium tour and he would be the first artist to play at the new Wembley Stadium! To be honest I wasn't all that impressed at first. The shows were cleverly described as "a thank you to my fans" but even so prices for stadium tickets were even higher than in 2006. And stadiums are - to me at least - big, soulless monsters. But none of it really mattered. I was going to see George Michael again.

George opens Wembley Stadium
2007: Party George
Whereas 2006 was all about reconnecting with his fans, in 2007 George Michael was giving a huge party and all his fans were invited. The setlist was more upbeat than 2006; you can't have too many ballads with a stadium crowd. 

The party atmosphere was also reflected in George's choice of clothes. Gone were the black and silver Armani suits, for the remainder of the 25Live tour George opted for a jacket and jeans combination.
With one notable exception of course: his attire for Outside. Introducing the cop uniform from the Outside video clip onstage really was an inspired move. It was so fun and naughty, typical George. Also:hot, hot, hot!


George makes a very sexy cop!

Please read on for 8(!) mini-reviews with pictures from shows in 2007.

Celebrating 25Live - part 1 (2006)

Now that Symphonica: The Orchestral Tour has begun I'm feeling all nostalgic for George Michael's last tour, 25Live. I thought it would be fun to look back at 25Live and share some of my memories. Today: a closer look at 2006. You can find memories of 2007 right here.


2006: Humble George
If there is one word that characterized George Michael on stage in 2006, it would be humble, with grateful a very close second. Here was a star starting over, wanting to connect with his fans again. We, the fans still loved him, and it was obvious our continued love and support moved him deeply. 

George looking happy (Wembley Arena December 2006)
Wanna know which shows I saw in 2006 and how good they were? Read on for 6 mini concert-reviews.