George Michael at TD Banknorth Garden, July 27, 2008
PERMASMILE: Sales may be slumping, but George Michael isn’t.
Eight tour buses, thousands of thirtysomething ladies (and their BFs), hordes of gays, and one Jesus dude were at the Garden on time last Sunday — but George Michael wasn’t. When word boomed through the arena that his plane had been delayed but that he was heading our way, thousands let out anguished sighs, rose from their seats, and stormed the margarita kiosks. An hour drifted by; the themes from Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia played; people stood faithfully at their seats in T-shirts adorned with George’s face smiling down at their bits. Then came word:
“George Michael is in the building!” — and the place roared and squeed.
Lore of late has had it that Georgie’s sales are slumping, and that the TwentyFive Tour has been beset by spotty attendance. But none of that was evident in the sea of cameraphones and the din of screams that surged as he emerged through a retractable opening in the stage — a massive LED screen that arced into a backdrop. (Imagine an iTunes visualizer on steroids.) Neither was it evident in George’s permasmile as he crooned and hollered through an epic set of Wham! hits (“Everything She Wants” sent chills across my scalp), solo classics (a devastatingly solid “Father Figure”), covers (including — yikes! — “Roxanne”), pulsing tearjerkers (“Amazing”), karaoke faves (“Kissing a Fool”), and the best song ever (at the time), “Careless Whisper” — sung mostly by the audience (as was “Happy Birthday” to George’s drummer, Carlos Hercules).
“I know it’s not easy sometimes to be a George Michael fan,” he announced, “but I’m hoping it will be easier by the end of the night.” And, of course, it was. Even if a George Michael retrospective tour does seem a little like throwing yourself a party for falling down the stairs, George’s candor, humor, and refusal to take himself too too seriously (bounding out on stage dressed as a cop for “Outside,” throwing in a “Yeah right” after musing on “the perfect girl” in “Everything She Wants”) made his parting question endearingly redundant:
“Do you forgive me?”
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