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.

Quote of the night
George: "Last tour you achieved the same status: to be the best audience of the tour. You've been fucking amazing!" Hurrah! Mission accomplished!

Runner up: "The urge to tell jokes all night is huge"! Heh,  he was so so funny tonight. A lot of the jokes were mentioned on twitter by @GeorgeMOfficial and @GeorgeMichaelNL, check them out!

Song of the night
On the way to this concert, one question was foremost in my mind: would George "do the gospel". Yes, he did, and it made my whole day, no my whole week! So, yeah, only 1 minute or so, but without question song of the night for me! I feel so blessed to have heard it live now! I could listen to those 5 wonderful voices singing a capella gospel for hours. Unbelievable!

Short it may be, but it was so very powerful, like all gospel should be. It made my hair stand on end, great gospel music always has that effect on me; probably all my black ancestors rejoicing in me. Speaking of black ancestors: I suspect somewhere pretty far up George's family tree there must be a comely black maiden or a handsome black man, he's just so fantastic at singing gospel.

I've always thought George should do a gospel CD. Gospel is far too beautiful to be sung only by conservative Christians. There's more than one way of loving God and experiencing God. It was rather touching to hear George address that very point. As he told us his God is much more kind and fun than "their God". As a black, gay woman I can totally relate. There's not much room for people like me in a religion that nowadays seems to be the domain of straight white guys with homophobic, misogynistic attitudes. (Sorry, getting off my soap box now. This is a subject dear to my heart)

What made me laugh:
Tonight it wasn't so much a question of "what" as "who". George made me laugh so much tonight. He's all relaxed now, getting ready for his London home crowd.  If I see him so happy  - he was literally skipping along the stage at the end - I can't stop giggling. When George is happy, I am happy. And judging by the delighted reaction of the crowd, that goes for all of us.

After singing a lovely version of Going To A Town his I'm-free-to-talk sign (out of order for these last few weeks) suddenly got switched back on again. He started talking, and talking and talking some more. I just love it when he does that, rambling on and on. The first time I heard him do that was in 2008 on the first night at Madison Square Garden, where he talked for at least 5 minutes straight - about nothing much! Just thinking about now it makes me giggle with pure delight.

This time he talked about how he's suddenly seen the light: people in other countries (for now only Denmark and the Netherlands though) understand English too. Well, I never! Bless him, it took him this long to figure this out, when we've been telling him for ages. Never mind, he got there in the end. What was very interesting about this whole speech was that he said that knowing we do understand the lyrics was having an impact on his performance. "I suddenly realised I'm singing totally different". See, that's the stuff we love to hear George, tell us more about the ins- and out of performing live!

Some other stuff that was great.
Tonight saw the return of the famous Outside pose! The one that was on all those 25Live ads and posters, George as a living L-shape. One arm pointing straight up, the arm with the microphone pointing at the audience. Always loved it, so it 's great to see it again! By the way, another old acquaintance from 25Live: "How you're doing at the back!" has been back for a while now.
It's fun to see how much of his 25Live repertoire is creeping back in. Guess we were not the only ones missing it; you only have to look at his radiant face during the medley to see that - serious singer or not - he loves it too!

And poor Mark McLean! George was so busy making jokes about Mark playing on his "cardboard box" (@herriebaby informs me it's a cajón and a bitch to play) "because it turned out to be a very low budget tour" that he forgot to introduce Mark by name and walked back to introduce the backing vocalists! The reaction of Phil Palmer was absolutely priceless, bursting into unrestrained laughter at this gaffe of the boss. Fortunately Shirley and Lucy were on hand to push him - besides themselves with laughter - in the right direction again. Too funny! Might be my favourite moment from Symphonica so far!

Oh and I'd wager a guess that the "technical difficulties" that caused an extra late start of the show was actually a wardrobe problem! Maybe someone was in a hurry and forgot to bring his best "show suits" on the plane? I guffawed at his boots, I must admit. But hey, it could've been worse, he could've come on stage in those ugly grey crocs of his, they're probably quite comfy as well! And that jacket he was wearing in the first half definitely has seen better days; I think I recognized it from some pics from a few years ago.

What made me cry: 
Oh God, Where I Hope You Are. I don't know how George can stand it, working through that pain every night. Good thing Bev (@GeorgeMOfficial) tweeted from the last concert (Hannover) "a very tender rendition of Where I Hope You Are" so we were somewhat prepared. He got a bit emotional, placing his hand on his heart, sharing his pain with us.

For me, Where I Hope You Are is the ultimate "what happened to our love" song and it breaks my heart. Enough said.

George Michael: the man and his voice
That first high note in Through (on "cheap gilded cage") is usually a good indication of the George Michael voice and mood of the night. If he goes for it, it's usually a sign that he's in a good mood, and confident about his voice. Today he went for it. And his body language was great from the second the curtains opened; he wanted to have fun with us. And fun was had, by all! I haven't seen him dance this much yet on Symphonica.

I have no idea what he's been up to during his few days off, but whatever it was, boy, did it work! He's come back refreshed, with all kinds of fun ideas for Symphonica. I get the feeling he's been looking for stuff that could spice up the show without comprising his vision of Symphonica. If that was indeed his intention, he's on to a good thing with the new stuff!

Adding the gospel bit was an inspired move. And the audience participation bit of 25Live's Spinning the Wheel is back as well. At the beginning of Praying For Time George invited all of us to swing our arms from side to side. Of course that works best if you're standing up, so it will be fun to see if tomorrow he will tell us to get on our feet a song early (at the moment everybody stands up for Feeling Good).

The audience
We loved him, for this one night we loved him unconditionally. And George loved us, or so he told us, giving us a lengthy declaration of love. What's so cool about the Dutch fans? Well, let's see: we understand him perfectly, Holland is per head the country where he's sold the most records, and we were the first place ever in the world to give him a #1 record.

And finally: the official chair bringer
I love looking out for little details that keep changing throughout this show. Ever since he told us in Verona that there's supposed to be a change of sunglasses after Through, I've been checking if he remembers in time. He's been OK in Antwerp and Brussels, and forgot again the first night in Rotterdam.

But now Team George Michael have come up with the perfect solution. Before he walks down the stairs after the end of Through his official chair bringer (heh, don't know what else to call him) sneaks up behind him  and hands him his lighter shades, whisking the dark ones away. Simple! And so funny! I love that man. I'll be on the look-out for more additions to his ever-growing list of responsibilities.

1 comment:

  1. Ada,
    Wonderful review of the nights performance. Here I am...reading instead of doing what I need to do...answering calls with can you wait for a few minutes so that I can finish reading? Haha captivated by your descriptive writing.

    So happy that George sang the gospel warm-up song...what a treat for everyone! I can just see everyone listening with wide eyes and a big smiles totally consumed by this beautiful little song.

    Thank you, Ada...always a joy to read your reviews. I can actually feel your joy and love for the Amazing Man!
    XXXX Mari