A review of George Michael’s Faith tour stop in Rotterdam, Netherlands on April 16,1988 written by William Shaw. The concert review was published in Smash Hits magazine May 4-17, 1988 issue.
The Press Conference
George Michael has really turned into such an odd bloke. In just six hours time he’ll be on stage, bounding around in front of thousands of people in the most energetic and pervy show he’s ever done, yet if you saw him now you’d think he was one of the most ordinary, shy. even slightly dull people you could ever wish to meet. For here he is driving the pop “press” of Europe up the wall with his rather humdrum comments about his music, hiding all the time behind a pair of dark glasses which he refuses to remove. In truth, the press conference, for which many (Smash Hits included) have travelled hundreds of miles, turns out to be quite a bore …
To be fair to George, he’s a little bit scared that one of Britain’s nosier daily “news” papers – who’ve turned out in force – are going to ask him some deeply embarrassing personal question about his girlfriend Kathy Jeung, so the first thing he says when he plumps himself behind the microphone is: “I’m here as a musician to talk about the tour … What I’m not here to do is to make a series of denials into speculations about my private life …”
So, when the journalists still end up asking such questions as “Have you ever had an AIDS test?” (Answer “No”) he looks miffed and tends to change the subject to such matters as …
His “Poorly” Back
“I put my back out playing tennis in Australia. I have a congenital problem with my lower back (i.e. he was born with it) — well they think it’s congenital. It’s something that happened on the first Wham! tour and then happened again when I was drunk carrying someone over my shoulder. When it goes out I have to stay in bed a couple of days.”
His “Poorly” Throat
“Yes, I had to cancel a couple of dates in Australia because of back and throat problems. I just had the very average run of the mill vocalist’s throat problem. It was just the shock of not singing for a while and then going out and playing three or four nights in a row …”
The “Meaning” of His Leather Jacket
(After a foreign journalist has asked “What ees the seegnificane of the letters ‘BSA’ on your jacket?”) “BSA? Er. Um. I think it’s a now defunct company that made motorbikes but they actually started off making … well, I presume they made artillery because I think the name of the company was originally British Small Arms.”
Why He Won’t Take His Sunglasses Off
“Will I take my sunglasses off? No. I’m afraid not You see if I took off my sunglasses everyone would see I was lying through my teeth ha ha ha. (?) They’re staying on.”
In contrast to the morning’s damp squib of a press conference, the actual concert turns out to be something of a major event. It’s George Michael’s first ever solo concert in Europe and tonight he’ll unveil the show which he’ll be bringing to Britain on June 10. And what his new stage show is about is sex, sex and more sex. It’s as if the man has gone completely sex mad. And in contrast to the rather quiet spoken chap who refused to take his dark glasses off this morning, tonight’s George Michael is a rather frantic, bottom wriggling bundle of energy.
He’s 24. he’s just sold over 10 million copies of his first solo LP “Faith” and he’s determined to make the break from being “the quiet one” in Wham!. So, to make his point he starts and ends the concert with “I Want Your Sex”, pointing as hunkily as he can to members of the audience as he sings the chorus. Of course he still plays the odd old Wham! song like “Everything She Wants” and “I’m Your Man” and much of his dancing – that familiar back to the audience bottom wiggle – is still the same, but as if to make up for ex-partner Andrew Ridgeley’s absence from the stage he bounds around, throws himself down on his knees, writhes and groans, far more than he ever did before.
And he’s pretty keen on showing the audience just how good his voice is these days. Faced by a load of screams and squeals at the end of the first number he politely asks the crowd whether they could “save their energy during the slow numbers”, i.e. pipe down a bit when he’s doing a bit of “serious” singing. He then launches into an ancient Stevie Wonder ballad “Love’s In Need Of Love Today”, which he croons away at in a very deliberately soul-ish fashion.
But the screaming continues louder than ever. Strangely enough, a couple of days after the Rotterdam show George claims on Radio One that his audience is nearly 50/50 men and women – the truth of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of people who turn up tonight are females and in fact only about one in 10 are blokes. You’ve only got to look at the crowd who queued up beforehand: loads of them are old Wham! fans wearing Wham! badges and t-shirts, one girl is there clutching a rose to throw on stage with a note attached saying “Please give this to Andrew …”
It soon becomes clear that there’s actually nothing that’s going to quieten this crowd down: it’s the first time they’ve ever been able to see George Michael in the “flesh” as he never toured in Holland with Wham! – and they’re obviously deeply impressed with this new show. Each time he pushes his jacket off as sexily as he can during a slow version of “Father Figure” they go completely bonkers, and when “A Different Corner” dies away the audience actually stop the show dead – for the first of several times – to sing loudly “We Love You George” …
For a whole minute George stands there a bit overcome before he finally has to shut them up with an “OK, OK, now I know you can sing. I want you to sing the next song for me.”
It’s “Faith” and rather amazingly the audience then sing the whole of it word perfect, though in a slightly funny accent. Quite incredible really.
But the strangest, and most mind-boggling part of the show comes at the end. George closes the show off with a v. passionate version of “Careless Whisper”. After five minutes of screaming and stamping he returns, and it’s now that the show gets really pervy. The first number is “Lady Marmalade”, an ancient disco song which includes the chant “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?” i.e. “Do you want to make some rumpy pumpy with me tonight, dearest?” And George now launches into his rather unsettling mime of the so-called “sex act” with the skimpily clad backing singer foxtress Lynn Mabry. And before you’ve got over that there he is singing “I Want Your Sex” again while writhing all over the floor with the ten foot high words “SEX” “LUST” and “LOVE” being projected on the backdrop behind him. What’s worse, there then appear these tacky animated projections of two naked “dolly” birds doing a ridiculous dance to wind up the show on an even pervier note. It’s a bit of a shame, because for the most part it’s a brilliant performance. It’s just whenever “Yog” slips into his Mr Sex role that it all becomes a bit unconvincing.
Will he have toned it down a bit when he comes to Britain in a month’s time? Will George create a bit of a stir for being so pervy? We shall all just have to jolly well wait and see …
- I Want Your Sex
- Hard Day
- Love’s In Need Of Love Today (an old song by Stevie Wonder)
- Everything She Wants (the old Wham! song)
- Father Figure
- I’m Your Man (yet another old Wham! song)
- A Different Corner
- Hand To Mouth
- Play That Funky Music (a v. old song first recorded by a group called Wild Cherry in the mid-’70s)
- One More Try
- I Knew You Were Waiting
- Careless Whisper
- Lady Marmalade (yet another v. old song first recorded by a group called Labellc in the mid-’70s)
- I Want Your Sex (again!)
- George Michael: The Lone Star State Interview on Q Magazine (June 1988)
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- Wham!’s Last Week, Smash Hit Magazine (July 1986)
- Graham Norton Interview with George Michael (2003)
- After George Michael Strained His Back (Smash Hits, 1985)