The article “Wham-bushed” was written by Jim Reid for Record Mirror and published on October 22, 1983.
Love the Reason
Lucy and her friends have bought a ticket to ride, skipped school and travelled 80 miles to Edinburgh. They’re outside the stage door of the Playhouse theatre waiting for Wham! “George is just hunky, beautiful,” says one. “Andy is so sexy, he’s got lovely eyes and nice sexy suntanned legs,” says another. And the music? “It swings, it’s good for dancing.” I shuffle my new white socks in assent.
Having garnered four hit singles and a number one album through little more than video, PA and press publicity, Wham! have to be doing this marathon because they want to. They certainly don’t need to. “We always planned to do the kind of gigs we’re doing now,” says George. “There’s no way they can’t be fun. The kids want to see you and it’s your duty to go out and play.” Fun and play — Club Fantastic!
The Wham! tour has no pretensions beyond being thumping good entertainment. As such their show is a pretty perfect statement of the current state of the art. But with a difference: Wham! are more colourful, cocky and brash than you can ever imagine Duran Duran or Kajagoogoo being. They also write a tasty tune. I’m watching the Wham! soundcheck when suddenly a screaming horde of Hibernia’s finest burst through the door. George Michael looks anxiously to his security men. The security men move quickly, carefully and lock the fans out. The soundcheck ends abruptly.
Is this pop tour business a dangerous date? “Not for us,” says George. “We get in and out of the shows so quickly we’re OK. I worry about the fans though. When you see what some girls are prepared to do — it’s so dangerous for them. Lots of girls have nearly got their hands caught in our car door already. It’s frightening.”
Go For It
The show is put together with a caring professionalism — a fans’ delight — the poster to remember the thrill by. Capital DJ Gary Crowley is the warm up man; a nineteen to the dozen, knobbly kneed MC, who sets the level of hysteria just right. As GC spins his last disc, the Wham! boys sit nervously in their dressing room.
“We’ve had two great gigs, great crowds, but we’ve had terrible sound problems as well,” says George. Out front the girls scream at the slightest indication that the duo are about to appear. In the bar some bad boys sink lager, clench their fists and sing, ‘Wham, bam, I am a man’. The house lights dim — GO FOR IT!
The band strikes up ‘Bad Boys’: keyboards, drums, percussion, guitar, bass, three brass players, three backing vocalists. George enters stage right in yellow Fila sports gear. Andrew enters stage left in red Fila sports gear. George wiggles his bum, Andy waves to the crowd. The crowd screams. The sound is good. George tells the crowd how much he loves them. The crowd scream, Andrew waves. Andrew Ridgeley, guitar, legs, smile and waving. Pepsi and Shirlie — two pretty dancing accessories — run on stage for ‘Club Tropicana’. George’s vocals have started hesitantly — earlier he feared he’d lose his voice — but now he’s feeding on the crowd’s enthusiasm and giving his all. This is corny. This is a wonderful pop show.
The band are neatly tuned in. One mighty bass line and a crisp punching brass section hang exclamation marks all over the Playhouse. Andrew and George simply have to entertain. They’re very good at that. Andrew announces the next song — ‘Blue’ — and the girl to my right screams. ‘Isn’t he beautiful?’. ‘Blue’ is a slow juddery ballad over which George renders his heart, only pausing to say, ‘Hello, how are you’. Andrew holds his plectrum in his mouth and shakes hands. Behind the group stands a large Wham! logo, a flashing Club Fantastic! sign, to their right there’s a hollow cheeked George Michael bad boy photo, to their left an Andy bad boy pose. The Bushey boys let the band play the records and let themselves replay the videos. They’re a success because they come across as the cocky smile ‘n’ wink pair their songs portray. They ham it and they milk it and the crowd love it. The band does the business and the Wham! boys floor the audience.
An oldster like me loves the songs, loves the excitement. The crowd (average age 16) love the boys, sing the songs and create the excitement. After all, this is a pop show. ‘Wham! Rap’ is all foursome dance fun, Shirl ‘n’ Pepsi in leather ‘n’ studs. Andrew, not to be outdone, rips his track suit open. This is frenetic. ‘Ray Of Sunshine’, the most euphoric Wham! sound, and the perfect Saturday evening gee-up, ends the first part of the set. My new white socks are sweating. A screen appears from out of the sky and the crowd are treated to a family snapbook type video. Andrew in pyjamas gets the biggest scream, a schoolboy George in glasses the biggest laugh. A mix match of the group’s music videos is played and then it’s back to the real thing. And more screaming. The rest of the set is a blur of colour, young girl hysteria and wonderful light dance music.
George sings the new ‘Careless Whisper’ to a backing track; he’s on his own and it’s not the same. Andy and George change into white Wham! singlets and sing ‘Bad Boys’. They look cute. Andy announces, “I’m the ultimate ‘Love Machine'” and I don’t hear the songs for screaming. More hands are shaken, more exhortations to scream shouted and then the band move into ‘Nothing Looks The Same In The Light’. George handles the vocal like an old trouper and ‘Come On’ ends the set with a mock game of badminton between the victorious boys. The encore is ‘Young Guns’ in camp cowboy outfit, ‘Wham Rap’ in white, and Chic’s ‘Good Times’ in confusion. It’s over and everyone scrambles for the merchandising stalls and a permanent souvenir.
Sitting in the hotel an hour later Andy tells me what it’s like. “It’s a rush, a laugh, they want to scream, they want to see you as a star. So you act like that. It’s a performance for an hour and a half. Playing up to what people want. You shouldn’t take the star seriously though, if you did you’d be in real trouble.” George agrees. “It’s our personalities, showmanship comes natural to us.” The Wham! boys go to bed early, they have to be up at 10:30 the next day. Outside the hotel a gaggle of fans are waiting round. Clutching programmes, scarves and posters they still have the afterglow of a night with their favourite popstars. “It was brilliant,” they coo. “The best gig we’ve seen. They look so sexy, George’s bum is really lovely and they’re really good live. Just like the records.”
Wham are doing it. Club Fantastic! — join it!
- Wham! Teen Dreams Come True (NME, 1983)
- Wham! Nothing Looks The Same In The Night (Melody Maker, 1983)
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- Last Wham! Interview: No. 1 Magazine (1986)
- Wham! You’re On Your Own, George (Sunday Times, 1986)