In The Balkans, September 2011 - by Marie Larmour

This is a looong review of three action packed concerts so do me a favour and read it quick ‘cos the editors tearing his hair out as we speak! I mistakenly assumed I’d combine them for efficacy! ASSUME Makes an ASS out of U and ME. My new Nom de Plume is Eeyore!

The first venue was the Municipal Stadium Wroclaw Poland 17th September, the second, Papplaszlo Sportarena Budapest 19th September and the third, Rasprodanoj Zagreb Arena Croatia 20th September. Oh and before we start, the big red curtain’s back intact, so no souvenirs for the Lovelies!

It’s been really hard work deciphering Google Translates versions of Polish, Hungarian and mind blowing Croatian! Believe me there was a lot to translate, they’ve nearly as much to say as me! But after much "holy" mutterings by myself I’ve come to just one conclusion...I think we are in deep DooDoo folks!

The East Europeans have spoilt George Michael rotten and have upped the anti as far as worshipping fans go! His hail fellow well met personable nature has now surely turned to "Hail Ceasar"! Get your knee pads out ‘cos we’ve Gotta "get down" to "get up" to speed, worshipping his Nibs.

They were talking about the 'Coming' of George Michael before he even got there in glowing terms. "The Symphony Tour is the news millions of fans across the world have been hoping for"! talks of songs, "reworked and rearranged for the orchestra...This new classical setting will give each song added layers and new nuances. It’s unmistakeably George Michael but not as we’ve know him..."

"A much loved, enduringly popular figure in music", with "a solo career of extraordinary lyrical beauty, genuine emotional depth and life affirming melody"...with the "Spine tingling intimacy of his music and his still spectacular voice...A magical experience awaits..."
Do you think he got a good reception?.....Wait for it!!!

The Mayor of Wroclaw threw an OFFICIAL STATE PARTY in their 30,000 seater brand new sports stadium! George was asked to open their new municipal stadium for them with Symphonica. The archaeologist in me can’t help but draw on the comparisons from the last Italian arena and this one.

From the 1st Century oval, stepped arena in Verona also originally holding 30,000 built for Roman State (Municipal games), move forward nearly 2 Millennia to this new arena and the Symphonia Stage and its "Caesar" who now occupy the same position.

Outside it, the massive glass panelled frontage acted as a giant screen, lit up with visual displays greeting the fans as they arrived. A cannon salvo rang out to signal the official opening by Mayor Rapal Dutkiexicz. He welcomed the crowd and George from the stage and the evening concluded with a dramatic fireworks display.

"It’s a grandiose opening ceremony" said Polands Tournament Director, Adam Olkowicz. The crowd reciprocated the party mood with quite a few 'Mexican waves', which successfully rippled throughout the 30,000 fans in the huge arena before the concert began. Are you starting to see what I mean? I’m curtseying as I speak, Oh Conquering One!

Not only does he have the Polish audience "Captivated" his orchestra can be seen foot-tapping, clapping, waving and visibly enthralled by the "Emperor" when they’re not playing. There was one lady violinist in particular my hawk eyes caught, but as I’m not a gossip mongerer I shall say no more, (plus the editor would only libellously edit me out again-Painful!)

As for the harpist, he looks as if he is having too much of a good time. I think he’s a Classical closet George Michael fan. He seems to be trying his best to keep it quiet (& failing) in case they find out and stop paying him to enjoy himself! Why did I give up the violin? (It gave me up if I’m brutally honest muttering something about cats and neutering)!

In Budapest in another glass panelled arena shaped like a silver flying saucer, it was the Hungarians turn. "Hi everyone I’m in Budapest now" tweets his Imperialness "thanks Poland you were great!...Oh and here’s someone I pulled here in Hungary last night...Quite a good shag but not very friendly..."

Obviously this is the latest addition to the Imperial Harem. He’s gone for the strong silent, bearded type with cat like reflexes and the stamina of a lion! Check out his latest squeeze on his twitter site @GeorgeMichael. He’s too much of a hard man for me I’m afraid and I’m classically trained!!!!!

The 12,000 strong Hungarian crowd excitedly pulsate with eagerness as the red semi-circular curtain takes on a life of its own. White dancing fireflies sparkle around the bottom centre of its plush velvet cascades. Shimmers, of what resembles lightning accompanies the "Fireflies", briefly illuminating the back of the stage through the curtain. These sporadic flashes tantalize the audience as they strain to see the first glimpse of their Music Man. They will have to wait a little longer.

The orchestra plays and the tension builds, a deep rich unmistakable voice sweetly emanates from behind these now vibrant blue curtains and begins to sing Through. The crowd start to cheer, shout, whistle, clap and encourage their Music Man to appear but still he teases them with only his voice. The stage goes black but the music continues.

Slowly the curtain is drawn revealing an inky blue blackness, lit dimly by low effusions of light. There in the centre stands George Michael between two 'light trees' softly lit from the cylindrical bulbs from their branch tips. He raises his head smiling at the crowd who is now screaming and clapping as he is finally fully visible.

A red glow emerges from behind him at the bottom of the stage, growing in brilliance and size into an emblazoned red and yellow Persian like design, continuously swirling. Its red fiery energy has all the hypnotic, snakelike fluidity of molten lava, morphing into delicate crystallized life forms that eventually fill and irradiate the enormous screen, now the full width of the stage.

The last strains of Through finishes and the crowd go wild already after only one song. With another cheeky grin George bounces (with a little GM swagger) down to the front of the stage to his enraptured audience. Budapest has lifted off!

"Another happy crowd here in Budapest" the GMOfficial team quips! "A dream came true" from another tweeter. The press echoed the crowds behaviour. "A Frenzied crowd welcomed George Michael in Budapest. Impatient fans greeted the superstar with a storm of applause. Both he and the audience enjoyed the concert. 'It’s important for me to have fun on stage. Only then can I be certain that everything is the way I want it'"

"Great success with...beautiful music penetrating the soul, the mere mention of his name fills the arena any time, any price. George Michael is already immortal, a living legend...among the greatest living singers. Talking to the audience, dancing, singing and has made us so truly grateful that we can sit in silent appreciation". The evening was so good that "a single piano could have kept you from getting bored". Kisalfold.tu

After all the smoozing from Poland & Hungary came Zagreb! Hold on to your cosy bits peeps as we hit warp speed. This is his first time "Performing" in Croatia, (You’ll see what I mean in a minute), "George Michael finally in Zagreb". From yet another salutory press reception, "George Michael has confirmed that he is a hot commodity attracting 12,000 fans in Budapest. He will sing in the Zagreb arena tonight." JutarnjiList. "Thrilled audience with his first performance in Croatia" in yet another modern, beautifully constructed flying saucer arena (and I don’t like modern arenas)! "What a beauty"!

I’ll tell you what the Croatian press thought first ‘cos it’s more respectable and then we’ll get down & dirty for the rest! "Two Hours of Love"...During My Baby Just Cares For Me "a few people stood up and danced which surprized George ‘I saw two people dancing straight in front of me. You confuse me, go have a drink’, joked the singer"

"Excellent sound system, with world class symphonic orchestra and a superbly designed audiovisual an atmosphere of great emotion and incredible positive energy...he tried in vain to leave the stage." Alas the story of your life then George no retirement for you!

"George Michael got a standing ovation for the delicacy and subtlety he delivered in the Arena...This is a singer who sings these covers better than many of the original artists and was the only singer considered capable enough of filling the late and great Freddie Mercury’s shoes to sing Somebody To Love at his commemorative concert.

He gave a clean, pure rendition of Roxanne, stripping back the well known reggae-punk treatment of Sting, giving it a smokey but fresh melancholic jazz night club feel. It was obvious that the audience adored it".

His show is "In the best traditions of big band music (with a symphony orchestra including brass guitars and drums). A very fine sensitive performance marked by excellent style and composition. Above all a voice of such quality that sounds as if it has been produced to perfection in a recording studio and not live on stage". The show contained a new song for the tour, a cover of Idol by Sir Elton John and "had special effects that inflamed the audience". The Croatian Times.

Told you they loved him! However the crowd, even though GM concert virgins, made these reviews look positively frigid! But then George wasn’t exactly a shrinking violet. His swagger was on from My Baby Just Cares For Me.

All loved up Eastern European style, this newly invigorated George was putting sex back in the city of Zagreb and sending the temperature through the roof with the help of Dita Von Teese. You didn’t have to ask, he was definitely "Feeling Good"!

"Sexy superb, perfect, magic!" "Crowd is loving it". George’s velvet voice filled the arena and Dita’s erotic images filled the enormous screen in various stages of posed undress. The queen of burlesque seduction and the king of soul funk stepped the audience back in time to the sultry ‘40s & 50’s, the era of sex sirens and sizzling sensuous jazz.

The crowd erupted into a rapturous applause and a deafening roar, (literally) ripped from their seats by kinetic energy. "Watch the reaction of the fans", "Fantastican Koncert!" "Amazing project! More than 15,000 voices!!!" (Possibly nearer 22,000 as venue states 12,000 seating capacity extending up to 20,000 but some papers were quoting 12,000 ). "Congratulations!" The audience went beserk with yet another standing ovation.

By the time George got to the medley encore, screams roars and deafening applause was the norm. He let loose with Amazing, swaying rhythmically and asking the audience "are you ready to dance, ready to sing? Let’s go. Make as much noise as you can!" He was having so much fun he said "I forgot my own words" so the crowd took over, "Fantastic" from George.

He then went into I’m Your Man and Freedom. The volume hit seismic proportions when George got the GM Ladies to make a funk sandwich of him dancing provocatively. Those Croatians certainly knew how to make their presence felt. There was no way he was getting off the stage!

Next an unbelievable silence fell almost instantaneously during his beautiful solo I Remember You! There was just George, the Harpist (who managed to stop waving his arms after Freedom), and 22,000 silent awe struck fans. It didn’t take them long to become vocal again and you could just about hear George above the din thanking them saying "Zagreb you’ve been beautiful".

"Good Night and Take care of yourselves. You’ve been the best crowd so far this tour". Shaking his head in disbelief at the continual racket he teased the crowd, cupping his ear with his hand pretending not to hear them and with an enormous smile left the stage.

He’s already at it in Spain by all accounts. The papers have dubbed him King George blaming him for seducing 5,000 fans with his own songs & orchestrated covers! Not Again! I can’t keep up! I need a wee lie down!

Thanks to: @GeorgeMichael, @GeorgeMOfficial @GeorgeMichaelNL, @SymphonicaTour, @GMichaelNews, @Fannywalters, @Leosmusic, @HappyS74, @TanteGeraldine @GM_ItalianFC, @Muzikahr, @Georgiafan593 & @MagdaGMFan

New to The Lovelies twitter team are: @Europcup, @rankovucinic, @sbsuzana, @nlmda101, @neidaMss, @eszterh, @PRiredbastudio1, @kristinasurin, @Ir0016, @Ivanab04, @Megica1, @MirellaDoro & @StellaD79