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.

Quote of the night
"Thank you Brussels, take care of yourselves. I love you!"
Aww, the lovely, sincere way he said it made it feel like a blessing. Thanks George and we love you too!

Song of the night
With the exception of Roxanne, which I will never ever like, I've grown to appreciate or love all the songs in the second half of the show. But in Brussels the song of the night for me was a song from the first half of the show: Wild Is The Wind.
I'm so glad that this song has evolved from just one more slow song in the second half to the current show stopper of the first half. That up-tempo part is just fantastic and gives George an opportunity to a) show us what that amazing voice of his is capable of and b) get his groove on!

For a few special moments he goes all out, seemingly unaware that we can all see him while he's dancing and singing with gay (heh) abandon. I picture him strutting his stuff like this at home, with just the dogs for company. With the 2008 version of 25Live there was a similar fantastic moment when George lost himself in the fun of the Forthright Mix of Spinning The Wheel. Until now this show lacked this kind of fun and I'm glad it's found it's way back into George's live performances.

George Michael: the man and his voice
What a difference a day makes! Thank Goodness, the wonderful GM-smile is back. And that in a time of great sadness for George. As you've probably all seen reported by now George dedicated You've Been Loved to his friend Maria who'd died that very day. In the midst of grief George clung to music like he always does and poured all his love for his friend into this beautiful song of bereavement. Once again I was in awe of George.

The voice was as great as always in Brussels. Whatever had caused the slight roughness in his voice in Antwerp was now gone. He still wasn't talking too much, his mind on other thing maybe.

George almost tripped again, but hey, it's been awhile. This time he got into an argument with the back of his chair on his way back from taking a sip of water. Thankfully George and chair both stayed upright!

What made me laugh
With Symphonica George has been ever so good at remembering his lines, a nice change from 25Live. So why is he having trouble with the start of Feeling Good? I'd understand if these were difficult or long lines but they're really not.
It makes me giggle to see him start the song and then immediately and in confusion check his lines on the autocue. It's almost as if he can't believe that he has to sing the same words ("You know how I feel") at the end of the first and the second line!

What made me cry
True Faith was so good tonight. That song was the only thing that could comfort me in a time of of deep grief and pain, and I'll always treasure it. I'm so happy that it's still on the setlist.

Love Is A Losing Game is the only Symphonica cover where I like the original at least as much as or even a little better than George's version. But in Brussels I really felt it! Tears in my eyes.

The audience
The audience in Brussel loved George without reserve, embracing the concept of Symphonica from the very first bars of Through! We applauded enthusiastically for everything but the absolute showstopper of the night was A Different Corner. What is it about this song that makes it such a big hit with the Symphonica crowds? Maybe it's just nostalgia, or maybe there are a lot of GM-fans who - like me - had this song on repeat for days on end when they got their hearts broken for the very first time.

George was working on a pretty tight schedule in Brussels. Through started at around 20.30 and the curtain closed on the playing orchestra at 22.40. Of course this left precious little time for chats, but we could all understand that given the circumstances he wasn't in a talkative mood.

Usually with a crowd this responsive, the house lights will be switched on at least once in the first and second half, to give George a good look at the people who are giving him so much love. And to give all of us a chance to go nuts! But tonight there wasn't any time for a love-in, pity! Fortunately we got our chance before the medley and cheered for George and everybody on stage for a long time. Judging by the big grin on George's face he liked it!

And finally - Things that make me go hmmm
I am what we call in the Netherlands a "nieuwsgierig Aagje", i.e. someone who is just a tiny bit nosy. With Symphonica there are so many things I'm dying to know more about. I'd love to do some snooping backstage. I'd buy a ticket for a backstage tour of Symphonica in a flash, but alas only the likes of Britney Spears offer those up for sale. These are some of the questions I'm currently pondering.

Isn't it rather tiring for the members of the orchestra to have to watch their musical scores in different lighting all the time? The colour in those light bars next to their seats give off a different colour, depending the song it's green, or red or blue.

Why is every member of the orchestra required to wear those big headphones, apart from the musical director? Or is he considered a member of the band?

Why does that beautiful red curtain have a cord for opening and closing the curtain that ends about 3 meters above the ground? Someone didn't think this closing the curtains thing through methinks.

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