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.

Quote of the night
George while introducing Roxanne: "This song has something for the boyfriends to look at. The girls' boyfriends."
Did you get confused there George, thinking you were introducing Feeling Good? Or did you really mean to invite all the partnered men in the audience to ogle a bunch of incredibly good looking prostitutes? Naughty George is always funny!

Song of the night
Song To The Siren again. Easily my favourite song at the moment. The lyrics, the beautiful graphics, the vocal effects, it's all simply wonderful.
I'm not quite sure where my soul is located, but hearing him sing Song To The Siren it felt as if George found that place easily and gave my soul a good squeeze. Yowza, I felt that! I don't know what it is about this song, but the emotion in George's voice directly connects with my deepest emotions. True Faith, another song that regularly makes me cry, is the same.

What made me laugh 

The orchestra
Tonight we sat to the left of George for the first time this tour. I hadn't seen that part of the orchestra yet so it was fun. And I spotted another GM-fan in the orchestra! The lady on the far left was clearly enjoying herself, slapping her thigh in time to the beat during My Baby Just Cares For Me and listening intently to the ballads when she wasn't on music duty. Here she is, having fun.

What not to do with a Lozenge
Symphonica is fun and we learn something new every week. Last week we learned what a stanchion is. Tonight we learned that a Lozenge is a throat pastille. And also that it's a bad idea to try and introduce your band with one in your mouth! George got distracted by it and had to spit it out before continuing with his 'thank you's. He came back for I Remember You with another one in his mouth and had to spit that one out as well!
So now I have this image in my head of George nipping down to his dressing room after Feeling Good and Freedom and immediately popping a Lozenge in his mouth. He's such a choir boy now, the bad boy image all but forgotten. Good for him! I'm glad he's taking such good care of his voice, we don't want him to burn out on such a long tour!

What made me cry

Where I Hope You Are
George is still not talking all that much between songs. But he introduced Where I Hope You Are thus: "This is a brand new song. I wrote it for my ex-partner Kenny". Hearing him say those words - haltingly - I welled up. Ex-partner: that part of George's life is well and truly over, with no way back. I feel so bad for them both; loved them so much as a couple. I pray they will both find love again, they deserve it.

Where I Hope You Are still touches me deeply, it's such an exquisite study of what happens in a relationship when as George so poignantly said on twitter "the past isn't finished with us". I hope he releases the single soon, and please let it be a live version.

True Faith
True Faith, how I love you. I've loved this song since it's première on the Chris Evans show. I'm very glad that after it's lacklustre chart performance George gave this stunning cover a new shot at wowing people and judging from the enthusiastic reaction of the crowds it's paid off!
At all but one of the show I've been to - Brussels being the exception - I heard George explain how this song is about the nature of addiction. Somehow I feel this song is almost a reminder to himself, a nightly recommitment to the path he's now chosen for himself.

George Michael: the man and his voice
The voice is terrific. George Michael certainly has his share of detractors. But what is so amazing about George is that friend and foe all agree on one thing: the man can sing!
I remember George saying in the Southbank special on 25Live that it took him a long time to realise that he was as great a singer as he is a songwriter. But how could he not know? His is an unique voice, instantly recognisable and so smooth and warm. That voice has been with me since my teens and I'll never tire of listening to it!

A few shows ago I remarked that Going To A Town looked to me to be a difficult song to sing, although George makes it sound deceptively easy. Well, tonight his timing was a tiny bit off. It happened early on with that terrific bit (I think it's called the bridge?) were the backing vocalists come in on "Tell me". George was definitely a fraction of a second early. Wow, turns out he's human after all! I was almost glad.
Going To A Town is an incredible song and tonight's performance was especially inspired, the best one I've heard since Köln and Verona. Also the light show at the end, though not exactly camera friendly, was spectacular. All in all a real high point of the evening.

George, being the dedicated perfectionist that he is, was probably not amused about what just happened. He certainly was a bit distracted on the next song, the fabulous Let Her Down Easy. And here's another thing I like about George's attitude with Symphonica, as compared to 25Live: his subtle use of the auto-cue.

With 25Live he wasn't too bothered about slipups, and in the all-out party atmosphere they weren't a big deal. Symphonica however is meant for the George Michael connoisseur, and listening attentively is sort of the point of the show. So he's much more careful this time around and uses the autocue when he needs to.
I saw him check the autocue a couple of times during this song. Once to check if he was at the end of the song yet. He wasn't, one more verse to go, so he smoothly speeded up again without missing a beat. He also checked his place in the last verse a couple times. It was beautifully done and I'm sure few if any of the casual concert goers even noticed.

The audience
This was an enthusiastic crowd and George praised us for it: "You've been a really brilliant audience". He also invited us to sing along with the medley, saying he remembered we could sing quite well. Um, some of us, definitely not me! But as it is impossible to stand at the very front (just behind the rope barrier) and not sing along with the medley, I happily sang my heart out anyway - off-key all the way. Great fun, as always.

Still no time for a long applause during the concert proper, but when the house lights finally were switched on just before the medley we let rip and George loved it! And yay, the glasses came off for a minute, so glad that is back.

Walking towards the exit I could hear many people exclaim that George was terrific, that they'd had a wonderful time. The love affair between George and the Netherlands continues!

And finally - Henry Hey
As I confessed on twitter, this fortysomething gay woman has developed quite  a crush on the musical director of Symphonica, Henry Hey. The man is just too cute for words!
I love how he sings along with a lot of the songs, swaying at his piano, completely lost in the music. I love how he intensely watches George while conducting the orchestra to make sure the musicians follow George's every vocal move. I love his delight in the applause before the medley.

In short: Henry Hey is great!! Here he is at the first Verona show, having fun with Let Her Down Easy.

No comments:

Post a Comment