Thursday, 25 October 2012

Symphonica - Gig report London EC (October 17)

Well, you've come a long way", said the man at the box office in Manchester after glancing at my address before he handed me my ticket. He touched a nerve and for one second I asked myself what I was doing so far away from home. And then I forgot all about it till I was walking with another fan, the wonderful Trish (@TrishJweb) back to the Earls Court subway on the evening of October 17, 2012. It was lovely to see her again after we had spent a very nice evening together at the last of the Royal Albert Hall shows; she was the fan who sold me her spare ticket so I could go to the sold-out show. We were discussing the show we'd just seen - that's always so nice about meeting up with other fans.

We got close to the entrance of the station, and  I got my Oyster card out of my pocket. Trish looked at me in wonder: "You've got an Oyster card!", she exclaimed. "Of course", I said and then it hit me, I live in the Netherlands and have a London Oyster card for travel on the London subway while Trish who lives an hour away from London doesn't have one!  Thing is, I've been in and out of London for Symphonica (and before that 25Live) so often that I finally realized getting an Oyster card was the smart thing to do.

It's all worth it to hear that voice and to see that smile!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Symphonica - Gig report London (October 14)

Companies like Seatwave get a bad rap, and part of their reputation is certainly deserved. Billed as a fan-to-fan ticket exchange site, what they actually are is the place where touts come in out of the cold and where some promoters sell a portion of their best seats in their desire to get a piece of the huge secondary ticket market.

But if you look closely there are also quite a few genuine fans with spare tickets to sell. If you can find them you might get yourself a great deal! Because what mostly gets forgotten when people have heated discussions about the secondary market is that it is indeed a market. This means that prices can soar to unbelievable heights if demand is high. Remember those shows Adele did last year at the Royal Albert Hall? Yeah, those tickets went for as high as 5 to 10 times face value.  But if demand is low(er) or the concert date is pretty close prices drop, sometimes way below face value. I got an excellent floor seat,  block A1 row 8 at the middle aisle, for £ 70! Even with the extortionate Seatwave fee that came out to £ 86 which is more than 10 pounds less than if I'd bought it on general sale. On Tuesday I once again turned to Seatwave because I wanted to see the incredibly talented Ed Sheeran on his sold out Hammersmith Apollo run. I got another nice seat for about 5 pounds more than I would have paid if I'd bought from the primary sources.

So my advice is this: use Seatwave and other sites just like it only when the concert date is pretty near, and go for the tickets you have to collect at a Seatwave office - or, in a pinch an e-ticket. That way you will avoid the heartache of people selling tickets they don't actually have (which is the main complaint about Seatwave) and you might get a great deal.

Counting down to the end of Symphonica, only more to go after this one.
One sentence review: Earls Court round 2: double the fun!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Symphonica - Gig report London EC (October 13)


Well, now that's more like it! The last time I looked at Earls Court was late December 2011. All the lights were out and the place looked cold and empty, and even though it's just a building it somehow managed to look forlorn. George Michael at that time was still in the hospital in Vienna and I felt Earls Court was waiting for him to come back to set it alight again. So I rejoiced when I came out of the subway station this year and saw his name proudly up in lights again, the way it was supposed to. The wait was over!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Symphonica - Gig report Manchester (October 9)

The Amsterdam show was all kinds of wonderful, the Royal Albert Hall show was a magical night, and Cardiff was two days of glorious fun. But this, this was the show to be! It was just an amazing show from beginning to end. It took to 2 flights, 2 journeys by train in Holland and another 3 in England and 3 rides on Manchester's metro link to get me to the show and back home again, but it was so worth every second of travel and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It might just be that my excellent seat - front row right in front of George Michael - had something to do with that.

We knew even before George took to the stage that Manchester 2 would be fun, as he tweeted that he was looking forward to the show! And fun it definitely was! We got two new songs: a fabulous new arrangement of Star People and a cover of F.E.A.R., the Stone Roses song. It took the crowd a bit of time to get behind that last one, but when they did it was lots of fun! And we got to see backing vocalist Jay Henry in a star turn, singing a duet with George. As he tweeted later, it had been 'scary', but nervous or not Jay was very, very good! As was the whole Symphonica crew, it really was a magical night. Again!

George wouldn't be George without a bit of bling :)

One sentence review: Manchester the sequel - bigger and even better!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Symphonica - Gig report Cardiff (October 6)

Early on Saturday night (October 6) I was sitting near a window in the restaurant of my Cardiff hotel, having a quick bite to eat before heading out to the Motorpoint Arena to see George Michael in concert. Like everything else in the wonderful Maldron hotel it was excellent value for money. The curry was great, my pint (!) of coke was nice, but more importantly the view from the first floor was just fantastic. I could see all the way into the street where all the pubs and (night)clubs were and saw the young and not-so-young people of Cardiff getting ready for their Saturday night out.

Saturday Night in Cardiff: freezing in a little black dress!

Dozens of scantily clad girls clambered out of taxis and tottered by on impossibly high heels. The slinky black dress was a favourite but there were plenty more dress styles to be seen. What all women had in common is that they were dressed as if they were going to a party in the sweltering heat of a non-British summer. Which they were in a way, I'm sure sure those clubs can get pretty hot when they're full and the beat gets going. But when the girls are still outdoors they must be absolutely freezing with so little clothes on although you'd never guess it from their happy faces. I really enjoyed this glimpse into British (sub)culture and fully appreciated that Saturday night fun was something special here. So I wasn't all that surprised when George told us right at the start that we had been amazing the night before but that he expected even more from us tonight "because it's a Saturday!". Heh, you just can't help loving a man who comes out with naff stuff like that!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Symphonica - Gig Report Cardiff (October 5)

They sure love their signs and regulations down here in Cardiff! When I picked up my tickets at the box office, the little booth was literally plastered with signs. Quite a few of them told us not to join the queue unless you bought your ticket from the box office or ticketmaster. Very sensible, as there's nothing they can do if a seller on eBay turns out to be a crook. Some signs were advising us to watch out for pick pockets and others told us to bring the credit card we booked tickets with when collecting said tickets and so on.

And then there was the sign posted at the entrance of the auditorium: Amplified sound levels during the show may be harmful to your hearing. Very true! My ears were ringing after the concert. Man, was this crowd loud! Only 5.000 seats in the house, but the Cardiff crowd produced at least as much noise as a crowd three times its size! Making very sure that George Michael knew he was appreciated in their town.

Sitting down for Father Figure!
One sentence review: George has an amazing time in Cardiff!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Symphonica - Gig Report Royal Albert Hall (September 29)

Late last year around the time of the postponed Earls Court shows my wife and I spent a few pleasant days in London - our flight was non-refundable and spending time in London during Advent isn't exactly a chore. We booked tickets for Messiah, the Christmas Carol Singalong and Carols by Candlelight at the Royal Albert Hall, with the Christmas Carol Singalong the clear winner entertainment-wise. It was an absolute riot - the private boxes were decorated with tinsel and Christmas lights, the crowd and the big choir on stage were doing the wave and absolutely everyone in the audience from 0 to 99 was having a wonderful time! We had seats in the Choir section with a perfect view of the whole auditorium and I can honestly say it was the most fun I've ever had for £15!

I thought I couldn't love the Hall more than I did that day but Saturday night was just as good! George gave us a perfect show at a perfect venue and what more can you ask for as a fan?

Finally a nice photo of the backing vocalists

One sentence review: A perfect George in a perfect venue!