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!

The Cardiff Motorpoint Arena is pretty small, it's more of a big town hall than an arena to be honest. We're used to a wide stage that stretches all the way to the tiered seats. Not the stage in Cardiff! It's a mini-stage - only covers the middle floor block and a very small part of the other floor blocks. As one of the fans sitting in the left floor block put it:"I've got no stage in front of me"! But although the place is tiny, it's every bit as charming as the pics led me to believe it would be. Even sitting way at the back in the tiered section you're relatively close to the action, probably closer to the stage there than if you're sitting in the furthest floor seats in Earls Court.

What made me cry

I adore You Have Been Loved but it's place on the setlist doesn't always work for me. So many wonderful, emotional songs have come and gone before we get to it that it gets a bit under appreciated. But tonight it was so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes. That line I've no daughters, I've no sons, guess I'm the only one living in my life always gets to me. Such sad and beautiful lyrics. A true gem of a song!

What made me laugh

Oh man, so many things made this a fun-filled night, and also definitely a night to remember. I giggled or laughed out loud far more than I'd ever thought possible after the news about the OZ cancellation hit us. Seeing with my own eyes how much fun George and everyone else was having really put my mind at ease.

Henry Hey was enjoying himself as always. Those of us who lived through the eighties will remember the start of that famous Janet Jackson video for Rhythm Nation. I'm an 80's girl at heart so I giggled when I saw mr. Hey count down the beats on his fingers at the bit in Wild Is The Wind where GM holds that one note for a long time near the end of the song.

Michal the harpist is one of the musicians on stage frequently singing along with George and last night he did so again. George was at the end of his usual walk to the right during True Faith, standing close to Michael when he got to the part just before he mimes taking a drag of a joint. At precisely the same time both George and Michael went: "Hah"! Fun to see.

The other musicians on stage made me giggle as well. We've got a group of new musicians on stage now Symphonica is back in the UK. Some people on the left side of the stage are clearly fans of Symphonica if not outright fans of George himself! They were clicking their fingers with George during Father Figure, swayed during Praying For Time and by the look of things had a wonderful time. They even did the wave during Freedom! Pretty neat trick, considering how few of them are sitting there.

That red curtain must be a nightmare for stage-hands everywhere. It really has a mind of it's own. I've seen it moving about when there's not a breath of wind about in the whole auditorium. It always needs to be helped along by a two men for opening and closing, it's too heavy to be pulled by it's electric motor alone.
Last night it got stuck at the end of Brother, Can You Spare A Dime and no amount of frantic tugging could get it closed on time. So after George's big finish there was still an open gap of about 3 meters in the middle. I would have loved to see George's face at the moment he realised the curtains wouldn't close, but sadly I was sitting just a bit too far to the left.

George in Cardiff

George was rather chatty last night and he was funny as always. I got a kick out of George announcing the decades for all of his own songs in the first half. We all know our man only has a hazy notion as to which year exactly his own songs came out, bless him. But decades, now decades he can do! So we got a: "We're going back to the 80's", followed by a "Now on to the 90's"and a "Now back to the 80's". Heh!

George got through the introduction of his band and the orchestra without slipping up once. That doesn't happen all that often, so well done George!

What do you give the man who has everything? A bra!

And then of course there was the famous bra moment. No doubt about it, this is what this show will be remembered for. Just before George walked back to the front of the stage for the encores something was thrown on the stage. I thought it would be one of those wrapped roses but no! He was standing right in front of me when he picked up it up, in a reflex I pointed the camera at him (fortunately it was set to film not photo) and burst out laughing when I saw that George was holding up ... a big, black bra! The whole place just laughed and laughed, we couldn't help it. George laughed, mr Hey laughed, the backing vocalists laughed. Even his body guard roared with laughter. It was just too weird! George threw the bra to mr. Hey and the expression on his face when he caught the piece of underwear was absolutely priceless. You can see it here.

Song of the Night

It was a great night, George told us he had "an amazing, time, amazing". The 'double amazing' only comes out on special occasions so I wasn't surprised when I Remember You started up. It was that kind of night. I watched him closely from a few feet away and saw him put all of his energy, all of his feeling into it. It was quite emotional. And at the end, when he did that arm gesture - touching us all with his voice, encompassing us with his outstretched arm - we got an image on the big screen of the whole crowd. So lovely! For the second time that night I shed a tear. Definitely Song Of The Night!

And finally - the GM-consultant at work

As I'm rather nosey I've always wondered about the duties of a GM consultant, what does said consultant do exactly - besides joking about not getting credit for You Have Been Loved. Thanks to Ruthie Bourke (@ruthiebourke) I now know just a bit more.

Before the medley George told us a lovely story about the last time he performed in Wales, it was in Swansea, 1983 and his very last words before leaving the stage were: I'll see  you soon! He apologized for that and joked that he should have come back way earlier as we were such an amazing crowd. Great story!

After the show I saw Ruthie and she was all excited. And with good reason! You see, she was the one who told mr. Austin her memories of that concert in Swansea earlier that night. Mr. Austin then made sure George knew all about it. It's clear that one of mr. Austin's duties is to recognize a great story when he hears it. Nice job Ruthie and mr. Austin!

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