Wednesday, 14 September 2011

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.

Memorable stuff:

George Michael quote of the day:
This quote needs a little introduction. Before the start of the medley George had thanked everyone: mr. Hey, all the members of  his band by name and, as he said, "last but not least: the symphonica orchestra". Um, George, I rather think you're forgetting someone. The audience cheered for the orchestra, George looked around to clap for them too and ... saw his backing vocalists!

George sheepishly: Oh actually, I forgot my backing singers and they're just about to attack me! Teehee. The look on all of their faces was just priceless.

High point of the evening:
Again, it's hard to choose just one high point as the whole night was one priceless memory in the making after another. But tonight I enjoyed Going To A Town very, very much. I liked it from the first time I heard it but over time grew to love it. It's one of my favourite songs of the show now.

I know next to nothing about the art of singing so I may get this totally wrong but this song looks like a very difficult song to sing. I have a feeling a lesser singer than George could really make a mess out of it. I love the ending when he's going for the big finish. It's so much fun to watch mr. Hey watching George and - taking his cue from George - signalling to the orchestra exactly when they need to come in. Those two work in perfect harmony. And from the look of it mr. Hey loves this song every bit as much as George does, he really gets into it, swaying and singing happily along. Great song!

I'll never forget:
Well, that's easy. When I'm an old woman but still compos mentis I'll bore the people in my retirement home to tears with tales of "the night I heard George Michael sing in the Arena di Verona". Truly an unforgettable night.

Everything was just perfect. That Arena was incredibly beautiful, so big and yet so intimate. The night air was warm on my face. The crowd was so into it, inspiring George. The orchestra, band and singers were  excellent as usual, these guys are so good at letting George shine. And then there was of course the man himself, George Michael. Reaching his musical peak after some 30 years in the business, that's no mean feat. I'm so grateful that I could be there to witness it all.

Quality stuff:

Vocal performance:
I don't know how George Michael does it, but that voice of his is still strong, still beautiful after a few weeks of touring. Going through different climate zones doesn't seem to faze him at all. From the cold and rain in Herning to the heat here in Verona, his voice remains powerful when he needs it to be during the 'big songs' and soft and capable of moving you to tears during the ballads.

Whatever he's doing to keep his voice in such great shape, let's all pray he keeps on doing it; because that October schedule is looking awfully busy. And I know the Dutch fans are all just itching to give him the welcome of his life in Rotterdam! So keep taking good care of yourself George, we don't want to miss a single night!

No You and I tonight, probably because of  time. It was 23.15 already when Feeling Good came to an end. I like You and I just fine, but it's an easy sacrifice to make for a night like this.

Because of the outdoor setting the stage set-up was different tonight. The stage did have a ceiling tonight but no curtain.
It was great coming into the arena and seeing all the instruments on display already. And it was lovely seeing George walk on and off stage in semi-darkness. Also, the start of the Through was amazing because we at last got to see the little stars on the videoscreen in all their splendor. Somehow seeing those stars lit up brought tears to my eyes.

And with the absence of a curtain I could finally see the videsocreen clearly. It's made from rather stiff material, not cloth as I'd presumed.

Other stuff:

What George did: banter with the crowd:
One thing George did at the beginning was give the crowd an apology for cancelling a concert way back in 1988 because of safety issues . He vowed to make up for it this night.

And maybe a first: George thanked his 'lovelies on twitter' tonight. He pointed at the first rows and explained to the rest of the audience that that's where his lovelies were to be found. George: "Devotion". Well yeah, that and a reckless disregard for financial security, George.

What we did: audience reaction:
I'm not sure I've seen a crowd like this yet. People were just so incredibly enthusiastic, giving George a big applause during almost all the quiet bits in almost every song. I didn't mind and I guess neither did he as he didn't shush us which he will do if the noise is interfering with his performance.

John and Elvis Are Dead, got three (!) big hands before the end of the song. Usually I'm not a fan of this particular song but I have to admit that tonight  there was something extra in his performance and I really enjoyed it. Must be that Verona air. Also a very big hit: Brother Can You Spare A Dime! At the end of the  song we all stood and George walked off stage for the break to a standing ovation!

And then it was time for the medley and the noise we all made was simply unbelievable. The Arena was rocking throughout Amazing, I'm your man and of course fan favourite Freedom. The lines to I'm your man are still MIA with George but the audience was more than happy to fill in the blanks.

But when the occasion called for silence the crowd was quiet. During Where I Hope You Are the whole place was dead silent, everybody listening intently.

What they did: orchestra and backing singers:
Whenever I can manage to tear my eyes away from George Michael for a minute there's more than enough fun stuff to watch. I love watching the backing singers. Tonight they were talking and laughing amongst themselves before the beginning of the show. And when they're not singing they are mostly swaying to the music.
They got a big applause when they walked on stage before the beginning of the concert. In fact, when one of the male singers walked on stage all by himself, people seemed to think it was George and they went a bit crazy before realizing that although George's voice is kinda black, he himself really isn't. It was a fun moment.


  1. Thank you Ada for sharing your reviews! It's one wonderful thing to watch our beautiful man's superb performances on YT videos, but it's totally different and interesting another thing to see the event through another fan's experience.

    I'll be looking forward to the rest of your posts (how many more will there be?)!!


  2. Thank you for the nice words. With 25Live I started writing these reviews for myself, so that I could recall the feeling of being in the audience years later. And then I thought 'why not share them, maybe others will like them as well?' So it's great when people tell me do like them!

    I'll be going to a few more shows in other countries; first up are Antwerp and Rotterdam (my home country). I'm totally broke now but well, I couldn't help myself, lol.

  3. hi Ada, it was a joy to meet you! :)

    Absolutely LOVE your review and of course agree with every word.

    I just have one short addition, if you don't mind. I loved his explanation for his cancelling that show 23 years ago. He said it had been 'pissing down' all day and there was water on the stage and on the roof of the stage. He was told there was a 30% chance of the roof collapsing and then asked what he wanted to do. "So they left that choice to me!" he added with a grin on his face. "But I valued the lives of my band and myself too much to take the risk". ;)


  4. Hi Marjolein, great to meet you too and thanks once again for selling me your spare ticket. Without you I'd have missed out on those incredible nights at Verona.

    About the addition, what you wrote was all in the first draft of this review. It was too long and I had to do some serious editing. As they say to aspiring writers: "Murder your darlings". So I cut his whole funny speech down to "safety issues", lol. Glad you put it back.