I’m surprised George Michael has cancelled the Australian leg of his Symphonica tour because when he stopped off at Glasgow’s SECC, he was in great voice, and looked comfortable being back on the stage.
He thanked the crowd for waiting for him – a long wait – due to him contracting pneumonia and being forced to cancel his previous tour. “I know you had to wait a year and I know it’s been a tough year.” He said. Meanwhile there was no noticeable effect of the reported emergency tracheotomy, his voice sounded strong, particularly during some of his own material, like the sublime Father Figure.
He was backed by a full orchestra, which leant itself easily to his carefully chosen set list, made up of covers and some of his own material. Overall it was a mixture of subdued and intimate torch songs which ultimately made the cavernous SECC feel like an odd venue for a setup that would have been truly magical in somewhere more cosy. However, the venue did provide excellent lighting, spectacular cinematic backdrops and Michael made good use of the space.
It was a gig of two halves, split by a 20 minute interval, with the second half proving more lively than the first.
Some covers were more surprising than others, like New Order’s True Faith, where Michael’s voice was heavily vocodered, and Rihanna’s Russian Roulette.
A highlight was the cover of Terence Trent D’arby’s Let Her Down Easy, a song to bring a tear to the eye about a protective father worried about his little girl growing up and finding love. A cover of Rufus Wainwright’s Going To A Town where the stage was emblazoned with the word Love, also stood out.
Of Michael’s own songs Father Figure, Kissing A Fool and Cowboys And Angels proved perfect for the set list and surroundings.
Glamour came in the form of a Dita von Teese backdrop to Feeling Good, made famous by Nina Simone, and a version that was all out bluesy and sultry, ramped up with a huge instrumental punch.
This shiny polished glamour was a contrast to the gritty realism of the backdrop to the cover of Police’s Roxanne. Michael introduced the film as being real working girls in Amsterdam, as the song’s languid seductive sleaze entered a dark shadowy world.
The crowd got the chance to party to a Michael melody of Amazing, I’m Your Man and Freedom 90, all of which prompted a crowd sing-along.
Michael looked genuinely happy to be back, leaving it to the encore to bring his set up to date with the club-infused White Light.