Wow. I haven’t danced that long in years. If the first thing that comes to mind when you think of George Michael is Wham!, then please stop reading this. You’re not in the club. Like the other nearly 8,000 people in attendance at the X last night, I waited a very long time for this concert. Seeing George makes seeing my favorite '80s/'90s pop stars list complete.
In all of the post-concert love feast, I think most of us chose to forget that even though the ticket clearly stated **No Opening Act** Show Begins at 8 p.m. Prompt, George didn’t take the stage until 8:40. Our usher had a staff memo with her instructions for the evening, which clearly stated that George Michael was not expected to take the stage until approximately 8:45. Huh.
Anyway, back to the love. Our face value $175 tickets were worth it. Just two sections over from the stage (section 119), our front-row perches proved to be an ideal spot to dance our asses off. I haven’t sweat that hard dancing since, oh, perhaps the Pacific Club circa 1990. George got us on our feet within minutes with “Fast Love”, and with the exception of a song or two, we never sat down.
The staging was fabulous. The design kept all eyes on the man of the hour (or in this case, nearly two). The band was spread out among four tiers of theater-style scaffolding (think Fosse-inspired Paula Abdul “Cold Hearted” video), so the stage was George’s oyster. The video wall behind him proved to be a dynamic addition of light shows, clips of GM videos, disco-inspired graphics, and images of pop-culture icons, particularly during “Spinning the Wheel”. (Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier, Sinatra, John Lennon, Elvis, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and, go figure, an image of President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.)
The crowd seemed more heterosexual than I imagined it would be, which made me wonder whether the modern-day metrosexual might have its roots in the “Father Figure”-era. Everyone sang along, gay or straight. And speaking of singing: In my book, George Michael’s pipes can hold their own alongside the great Elvis Presley. Add the perfect GM dance moves and swinging hips, and hey, it’s not a stretch to compare. George is one guy whom I would never criticize for covering a song. Last night, we were treated to “Roxanne” against a video of real women in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. The song took on a more melancholy feel than the Police original, so much so that it didn’t feel like a cover—it felt more like an editorial.
George Michael as a performer morphed easily before our eyes from dance mix diva (“Spinning the Wheel”) to night club crooner (“Kissing a Fool”) to pop culture icon (“Too Funky” and “Outside”)—complete with a policeman’s uniform.
My personal highlight? When my newfound pal, usher Dawn, let me slip by her, and I rushed to the main floor for a front-row view of George during the final song of the night, “Freedom ’90”. My face hurt from my ear-to-ear grin. George thanked us all “for our support over twenty-five years” and our “warm welcome.” He called it a “humbling experience” and promised to give us the “night of our lives.”
Bonus: click on the links above to watch George Michael videos.
Read Jayne Haugen Olson’s Style Parlor blog on July 9 for more photos and more details on who was in the audience and what they were wearing.
Photos courtesy of Jayne Haugen Olson and Carol Garrigos.