What the fuck was I doing at a George Michael concert in 1991?



By Steve Newton

George Michael had two things to apologize for before he even sang a note at the Pacific Coliseum last Thursday (October 10). One was for ever having anything to do with that most nauseating of pop tunes, Wham!’s super-sucky “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”. The other was for being more than an hour late.

He didn’t say he was sorry for either.

But all the die-hard GM fans packed into the place didn’t seem the least bit put off by the fact that his scheduled 7:30 show didn’t get under way until after 8:30. They just twirled those long, stringy things that glow in the dark and lined up to pay $45 for Listen Without Prejudice sweatshirts. And the folks in the downstairs beer garden (yes, there were some adults there) just kept knocking back the suds.

When the man of the hour finally showed up, sporting a blue blazer, black pants, and short hair, he got the floor crowd on its feet immediately with a stirring version of the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”. It was obvious then—and throughout the show—that the guy really feels the music, whether it’s his or someone else’s.

Spellbinding cover versions of Elton John (“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”) and Soul II Soul (“Back to Life”) highlighted the set, although Michael’s own hits like “Faith”, “Freedom”, and “Father Figure” garnered the strongest response. For the latter tune, he brought out a 24-member gospel choir for some heavenly help, and his female backing vocalists were no slouches, either—they could have sung him off the stage in a second.

As expected, when Michael shook that famous butt of his, the young women in the crowd went nuts. But it seemed like he was making the same moves over and over, almost to the point of being a caricature of himself. A few new choreography lessons couldn’t hurt, George.

Thankfully, Michael didn’t torture us with “Wake Me Up”. But he did encore with the one Wham! tune worth doing, that succulent piece of jazzy pop, “Careless Whisper”. That tune alone almost made Michael’s tardiness forgivable.

But not quite.

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