Sunday, 7 March 2010

George Michael gig [3rd March 2010 @ Etihad Stadium]

While I'm not a big fan of George Michael, it was my wife's birthday earlier this year and she is quite a fan so I surprised her with tickets to this concert at the massive Etihad Stadium (formerly known as Telstra Dome) at the Docklands in Melbourne.

We arrived at about 7:30pm and George Michael entered the stage at about 8:30pm. Despite promises of "and special guests" on the tickets, I'm not quite sure who the special guests were; maybe his backing band?

The concert began with the acoustic ballad Waiting sung off-stage before he appeared to the cheers of the almost 50,000 fan crowd. Kicking off the first set with some his biggest hits Fastlove and I'm your man (recorded with his former band Wham!) was a good move, and definitely succeeded in getting the audience moving and the adrenaline pumping.

He slowed down the pace a bit with the beautiful ballad Father figure. While he is definitely a master at the dance-pop genre, I generally prefer his slower-paced material as it gives a chance for his amazing vocals to take centre stage. Say what you like about his music, but you can't deny that he is a brilliant singer; it was a pleasure to hear that his voice was in fine form even without all the bells and whistles of a recording studio.

There was a 20 minute interval in the middle of the set, which gave fans an opportunity to go to the toilet or fill up on severely overpriced food. $5 for a bottle of water -- seriously?

Then he returned with the superb second set, kicking off with arguably his finest pop moment -- the classic Faith from the 1987 album of the same name. A few well-selected covers, of the jazz standard Feeling good and a slowed down version of the Police song Roxanne added some diversity to the mix. A few later period hits like Amazing and Outside (influenced by his infamous "public toilet" incident of the late-90s) rounded out the end of the set nicely, before leaving the stage.

His encore included the glorious Careless whisper (still arguably one of the best pop/R&B songs of all time) and Freedom 90 (that's the solo song, not the cheesy Wham! song with the same name). The saxophone solo in Careless whisper never fails to bring a smile to this 80s child's face.

Of course, no review of this gig would be complete without a mention of his Spinal Tap-esque moment where he shouted "Come on Sydney!" to the crowd, not realising that he was actually in Melbourne. We let him get away with it the first time, but when he did it again, the patriotic crowd weren't very happy -- starting a chant of "Melbourne! Melbourne!" in the vain hope that the penny would drop.

It eventually did, when he started talking about the last time he was in Australia back in 1985, and how he was so happy to be back in Melbourne. He admitted his faux-pas later on in the gig, jokingly stating that he was actually talking to his monitor engineer (named Sydney). Needless to say, we didn't buy it.

All in all, a surpisingly enjoyable gig. I'm not generally a big fan of gigs at big stadiums (lack of intimacy, ridiculously over-priced tickets) but George Michael put on a good performance.

Bootleg media

Being a big stadium, I wasn't able to get any good photos of the gig with my 3x zoom Canon Ixus 70 compact digital camera. The best I could do were the photo at the top of the post, and this one:

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