France, September/October 2011 - by Marie Larmour



There was six dates in France, four in the South of France (Jealous yet?): Nice, Nikaia Arena 22nd September, Marseille Le Silo 28th September, Toulouse Zenith 30th September, Montpellier Park & Suites Arena 1st October and then up North to Paris Palais Omnisports, Bercy on 3rd & 4th October. If you’re interested then go put the kettle on before I start! They were six jammed packed performances and you won’t be happy if I don’t tell all! Trust me, mines a milky coffee no sugar, Ta.

As one fan put it, "VENEZ, VIVEZ VIBREZ!" Literally COME, LIVE, VIBRATE! The new conquering French war cry for George Michael firmly enthroned in France! No naughty innuendoes please that’s my department!

There’s something about the Sud de France that conjures up Casinos filled with glamour and wealth, oozing decadence, sun & fun. Then again it could be too many James Bond movies when I was young. We did have the sun, palm trees and a warm sunset but the Nikaia arena viewed from the sky looked like a big oval serving salver, with a grey topped wet wipe box for a stage! Sorry but I was still in 007 mode with my Walther PPK when I saw it!

When night fell it looked like something from Miami Beach with its Palm tree lined entrance, glass panelled front and vibrant Pink lit hooded overhang that sported a contrast internal lining of blue lights. Yip Miami Vice! This observation aside, the venue was rocked by His Nibs, in his by now normal George Michael posh fashion! He’s all cultured now ever since he’s been orchestrated!

"Years of waiting for Symphonica in Nice" is what the French papers were saying. 7,000 people packed the outdoor venue to see "Nikaia’s Prince" as he was crowned. "A real dream for the fans". "No sleeping yesterday in the show Symphonica in Nice", they said, (Aha! They must have read the Spanish "narcoleptics" 'review' from Madrid!), "Just an amazing concert for the audience with sweetness from the orchestra".

The tweets from the concert fans confirmed this. "Forget 25Live Very funny/move/crazy Tour. Concert with #Symphonica is another concert with Musicians Tribute, Listen, Music and Voice". "A great, truly great artist", "Flawless Let Her Down Easy". "The main feeling was the power, control of his beautiful voice and the incredible ability he has to live deeply every song."

It was Bev from GeorgeMichael.com’s first concert as she took over from Lindsay. "Encore medley just wrapped up here in Nice and the crowd is going crazy"! I think the reaction of the fans may have left a 'slight' impression on her! Another fan summed it up simply, "George Michael you were amazing in Nice".

There was a five day gap between Nice and the next French date in Marseille. In between George sang his castanets off, covered in the previous Spanish Twitterlight review. Hopefully it wasn’t too libellous, (my take on Spanish Rolling Stones narcoleptic’s review was I think justified!) But back to our talented Dude in the Sud.

George Michael opened yet another venue for Europe! "And we’re all off to France again". "Tonight’s venue is again a special one. An old grain silo located at the seaside and is the place to be". This "concert was twitter live" with the presence of the now officially titled "Twitter Team". Marseille’s revamped, industrial grain silo aptly named Le Silo, held a more intimate gathering of 2,000. And before any cynics like me out there starts to phhff at it, as I did initially, ask yourself this question...What fan would prefer a 30,000 seater or this 2,000 seater to SEE their idol?

Personally I thought it looked like those wee shoebox theatres I watched them make on Blue Peter (Children’s programme) on BBC 1 "a couple" (chokes on lies) years ago. However whilst creating no end of problems in reducing the sheer size of the visuals, accommodating a 41 piece orchestra, a sextet and 5 singers plus adjusting the acoustics and their output volume, it did look nice!

It kept its industrial heritage and architecture but in an ultra modern and minimalist style. It was clean, pristine, angular & squared on the outside with its original fa├žade of half vertical cylindrical (grain) towers now windows. The famous Redburn trucks were tucked up safely at the rear. Turn of 19th century styled high ceilings gave it a classical feel and the profusion of warm earthy tones was crisply delineated by black. Its flood of light invited you into its sleek, uncluttered, classy functionalism.

This light filled, square pillared foyer was buzzing with excited fans socializing whilst waiting to go into its small (by modern standards) auditorium. It was the modern equivalent of the Prague Opera House with its side balcony boxes housing two tired seating. No gilt & ruby velvet here though not even the famous red curtain!

George Michaels backing singers were already enjoying the sunshine in Marseille if Jay Henry’s tweets are anything to go by, enjoying lunch, the sun and a wee rest before the show. Their poor "Boss" was beavering away in the studio. But before you start feeling too sorry for him, when he did get to Marseille..."George Michael is one of the few artists who are given a standing ovation upon their arrival on stage".

The fans were as determined as ever to upset my little sunshine personality..."We are in the Silo in the best seats in the house! Front row right in the middle thx @GeorgeMichael", another one quipped "I can touch the stage" and she proved it with her twitter photo!

She was less than a metre away from the stage with George Michael in plain view singing not 3 metres away from her, grrrr see what I mean about these smaller venues. Another tweet quoted his nibs from the stage, "George Michael: ‘I’ve never been this close to my audience as on this stage tonight’". Not fair! I’m making a mental note to check out his NEXT tour’s (hint hint!) venue capacities before booking.

"...did the audience have red bull at the interval? Getting louder and more energetic in their applause with each song! – Bev" @GeorgeMOfficial. A woman after my own irreverent heart! Perhaps the red bull fuelled frenzy could be partially explained by the football fans in the audience. Some had to choose between the OM-Dortmund match and George! George won and they were tweeting from the concert more than happy with George’s orchestral scores! Apologies folks I’ll lay off the cheese (boards) even though were in France!

Another self explanatory tweet "@GeorgeMichael enflamme le Silo, the audience was really amazing". "I felt like I listened to the songs in HD the voice of George was so beautiful...I spent almost the entire concert bewitched". "Oh the shades come off and the crowd goes wild...one more show in the can. Merci bien, Marseilles #symphonica Bev". Mark Mclean tweeted "great show tonight...followed by a nice after show hang. Looking forward to a day off in Toulouse tomorrow".

If you don’t believe me, the Twitter Team & the GM Lovelies then read on..."George Michael ignites the Silo. He ignited his fans...in the newly converted grain silo with its inaugural show. His orchestra was cramped on a small stage...The singer interacted warmly, completely at ease with his singers and orchestra. The venue was small and intimate, the audience could literally touch the stage. The audience had to wait until the second half to get up and dance. When they did, they released so much pent up energy into the room...dancing to the rhythm...In his 30 year career he has sold over 100 million records worldwide, 11 no1 singles & 7 No1 albums in the UK charts and 6 no1 singles in the USA."...Maritima info J. Darras 29th Sept. Believe me now?

"Lord George Michael arrives in Marseilles...classically stylish not the extravagance of wham...at 48 George Michael has probably finished with excesses of all kinds and now sees himself as the classic crooner"...LaProvence.com Jacques Carot. Somehow Jacques I dooon’t think so! I don’t quite see our George crooning in his slippers in a Las Vegas venue just yet!!

However what is typical of our "youthful jet setter" happened enroute to his plane after the concert. Despite his security, George motioned forward a fan looking for a picture with him. The same thing happened previously whilst jet setting out of another airport in the Balkans (Balkan Twitterlight Review).

George Michael tweeted "Hi everyone just in Toulouse!"..."Boiling in England, but everyday off is spent in the studio mixing the album" (this must be one of the ones the Spanish press erroneously told everyone were already out!) "In the last week I’ve decided to change the lyrics to Praying For Time a little". Gaydar Radio tweeted "calling all @GeorgeMichael fans he’s gone straight to No1 on the #Yourchoicechart" with Every Other Lover. All his hard work is paying off!

"Twitter if you’re in the room in Zenith (Toulouse), I want to take your photo for the Face Book page. Come find me Bev." You didn’t say what colour top though Bev, it was orange last night! "There may be less tweets than normal tonight kids, internet connection very spotty in the house, Bev".

Someone else tweeted "The Famous red curtain" inclusive of picture to prove its back with us. Impatient fans as always, "George Michael where are you? We’re waiting for you #Zenith #Toulouse!!! Can’t wait anymoreeee". "George Michael doesn’t do deadlines :) He does everything on his own time...George Michael Time GMT."

Then George Michael’s Dutch fan club chanced their arm with Bev, requesting that she (Bev) be let loose with a recording camera during the sound checks for his Twitter fans...keep your fingers crossed folks...No you can relax with the toes and eyes!!! There was even more online thoughtfulness, the top French, very slick, George Michael Blog site, @GMichaelNews and George Michael’s English promoter @Leosmusic announced a competition offering Tour T-shirts and Programmes as prizes. It is opened online until the 13th of October. Don’t ever try and say you’re neglected!

"Hi guys, intermission! Fantastic crowd here in Toulouse, and hot with it". George makes time for his Twitter Lovelies, tweeting them mid concert. He makes it all look so effortless on stage as he sits swinging, singing and chatting on his stool or boogeying the night away with his backing singers!

His busy little beavers of fans never stop either, "Hearing new lyric Praying For Time ‘20 years and a day, but nothing changed, human race found some other God, walked into the flames’ anyone?" A Lovely was just checking she heard the new lyrics correctly at the concert before posting them for the rest of us.

A husband, wife, brother and sister-in-law were sitting in the FRONT ROW, (Not again! Grits teeth & taps loudly on keyboard), "we touched the stage with our knees...Several times during the performance George Michael extended his hand towards my husband...able to touch his shoes and leg because he was that close...able to look him in the eye...Going again in Montpellier." AGAIN??? Where did my Blue Peter, plasticine voodoo doll go? Oooh how I need to stick some pins!! Talking of frenzied emotions, towards the end of the concert George Michael had clearly lost any inhibitions and his "shades" whipping up the audience into, the now, expected climatic end to the show, its medley encore.

"The Voice" as he was dubbed in the French press "had 4,500 fans in love with George Michael in the Zenith Toulouse...He can now take the title from Sinatra as having the most tour dates in Europe, well over the previous one set at 50...The Zenith Carnival resulted in some delay to the concert goers of all ages...Sometimes bluesy, sometimes classic but always charming and very professional…his symphony concert...had the audience...floating on air."...LaDepech.fr

I came across another ahem, "little tweeter" (I can be professional when required), AGAIN in the FRONT ROW in Montpellier just in front of the opening of the curtain. He met up with friends who were at other Symphonica, south of France concerts. "The crowd goes crazy as the curtain is drawn". Some friends even met up from Japan repeating their 25Live tour’s first encounter. "He greeted the audience in French and thanked them often in French...and that voice, his voice is so beautiful. OMG I have no words".

"Wow a jam-packed soundcheck today! 11 songs at least touched on so far - Bev". Even Bev was getting in on the smoozy French act, "Vous-etres prete Montpellier?" 14,000 of them were. "Opening strains of Through and Montpellier goes wild - Bev".

"How are you Montpellier?" said George Michael who was 'super relaxed' in a t-shirt under his suit, in the heat. Praying For Time was its new version and right after Where I Hope You Are came, You’ve Changed, without a sound from the crowd. "...so close I couldn’t take my eyes off George...will catch up on You Tube for the visuals". "George was a few metres in front of me during the medley and our eyes often met - this was like opening the most fabulous Christmas presents".

The French crowd were proving more artful dodgers than their previous European counterparts! "Hilarious you should see the stream of people moving forward, hiding in the aisles so security won’t make them move". "Montpellier is certainly ‘Feeling Good’ every square inch of empty floor space is now full of singing, dancing fans for the...encore - Bev". "Raucous crowd in Montpellier!!" tweeted Henry Hey.

George Michael’s singers tweeted, "Great show last night you rock!!! Have a restful day off, we love ya loads xxx". "Thanks Montpellier, what a great crowd, loved you" tweeted George Michael. "Tomorrow I have my first day off in a month. Well almost, have to work on the album booklet...but that’s fun". Jay Henry tweeted "We are all so amped up for the Paris show tomorrow."

"The red trucks are in Paris". If it’s big red and articulated it’s got to be George Michael! Bercy was more than ready for "the most anticipated show of the season". Henry Hey tweeted "at the venue...working away on many things. I believe that there will be a new song added tonight". There was, Song To The Siren! George Michael’s backing singers tweeted, "What will we do with the boss tonight?" "Oh just take off his jacket" was one reply.

On the first night there was a glut of anxious fans picking up online tickets in too short a time. This delayed the start somewhat but it was sorted and no soldier was left behind! Once the fans were inside that was all forgotten. "George Michael retard? It was the best gift: Paris and your concert were so good together. It was like all my dreams come true!" There wasn’t the same pressure on the box office on the second night and things went smoothly in the 20,000 seater arena. Just make a wee mental note peeps if you are collecting concert tickets, factor in extra time for that. With well over 100 million albums sold there’s a lot of us!!!

"I’m so happy to be back in the most beautiful city in the world. I was supposed to say that in French but I’ve forgotten it. If I remember I’ll do it later. Thank you very much for coming by the way, thank you so very much. We’ve had a great time so far on the tour but last time here in the 25Live tour we had a fantastic time in Paris. This is very different from the last show but hopefully you’ll find it pleasurable...in a different way. Don’t worry you do all get to shake your arses and sing later on". His Nibs was on top form on the Paris stage!

If you think the other French Tweeters clouded my sunny disposition, that was nothing to what came out of Paris!! To rub salt into my little Twit wounds this boy was a fellow Irishman! "Jean Paul Gaultier and Bo Derek sitting next to us at George Michael at Bercy!!!" More Tweets came in, all telling the same tale of an audience peppered with celebrities.

"Bercy screams, as George Michael’s image came up on the big screen" (including the fans up in the rafters and those rafters were mighty high!). "...how much Paris seemed to love You Have Been Loved". George introduced it with a quiet "Pour ma mere". "New entry on 2nites set list Song To The Siren and Understand was out tonight. Also a different version of Wild Is The Wind...Great new version of Wild Is The Wind - Bev". "A dramatically slowed version of New Order’s True Faith is a nice surprise and touch by George Michael in Paris".

"George asks ‘Paris, you feeling good?’ Paris screams back - Bev". The celebrity contingent all got up and danced with the rest of the audience. "Wow, the noise in here is UNBELIEVABLE for the finale into the encore" "Encore time and Bercy has become a dance club - Bev", the crowd rushed forward and security started earning their wages. "My best show this year and the best sound I’ve EVER heard in Bercy", "Amazing show in Paris tonight. Can’t wait for his two shows in Dublin on November 1st & 3rd" (You and me both bud!). "Symphonica is conquering the world", "Time to think about a LIVE SYMPHONICA DVD".

Fanny Walters, George’s French biographer @Fannywalters posted pictures of the French press coverage from different papers, La Provence, Direct Matin, Direct Marseille Figaro Culture and Figaro Scope. Others used were Concertlive.fr. & Interlignage, all with good reviews. She said of one, "It’s the first time in a long time in France I’ve read an article so nice about George Michael in Le Figaro". I am very grateful for all her help and support.

These positive reviews even extended as far as Ireland in the Irish Star, Mark Kavanagh and the Sunday Independent, Barry Egan, (the one sitting beside Bo Derek). Irish fans are eagerly awaiting their turn in Dublin on November 1st & 3rd and both papers reviewed the Bercy concerts enthusiastically. The official fan clubs have also been a great help scrutinizing many press reports. "Crazy article not bad but they said that George Michael sings Faith and C W. They were not at the show...". The difference a little truth and accuracy makes! My thanks to them also.

"George Michael bewitched Bercy...a British artist whose talent gets better with age...He announced a new album release for the end of the year"...Direct Star News. "Tonight the great George Michael gave his first concert in Paris...It is the event of the season!" (This next quote should tickle His Nibs, cheeky pup that he still is)..."A Child prodigy of the English Pop music...George Michael regularly is in the charts with hits worldwide. His passion for Black American music is clearly identifiable in his compositions and his singing. A major figure of the 80’s & 90’s his independent spirit and tone made him even more unique and endearing as a show business personality"...RFM En Direct-DIFFERE.

"Crazy atmosphere last night at the Palais Omnisport de Paris Bercy...after burning Nice, Marseille, Toulouse and Montpellier...The great George...this time attacked the capitol...A host of French celebrities (& international)...at the end had only one word in their mouths, ‘GREAT’. It’s rare that an artist evokes the same reaction unanimously throughout his audience"...Free Actualite.

Kind of says it all really...worshipped by the Great, the Good and the ‘Lovelies’, "George Michael Symphonica gave two and a half hours of deep pleasure". From "The most beautiful city in the world", George Michael finally tweeted "Hey Paris, you were truly a fantastic audience, thank you et desolee le retard". The French Lovelies are already tweeting mad trying to get tickets for The Palais Garnier, his next date in Paris on April 29th 2012!

My thanks as usual goes to the George Michael Twitter world of:
@GeorgeMichael @GeorgeMOfficial @GMSingers @HenryHey @jvoxAcademy @themarkmclean @GeorgMichaelNL @GMichaelNews @GeorgeMichaelForums @GMFamilyForums @Leosmusic @FannyWalters @Dutchieemy @Dutch_ada @HappyS74 @TanteGeraldine @Luuk2007 @Carone96 @Georgefan67 @Ifcharleswzagirl & @Faithful2u2g

Our new little Tweeters:
@GaydarRadio @GMichaelsite @Webattack @LexyMaty @GMINFOS @Audrey_AGUADO @Robboom1972 @Marieyog @stefyog @Lila_GMFaith @Starpeoplegm @OutsideGM @Valou8300 @Allomusique @annedecagny @WonderwomanClubb @RealBarryEgan @ulloasullivan @Tof_Beaugrand @PierreHennequin @Koolenm @mollyrides @AstridJMF @dany68italy @Maynechris @No_Mad65 @leyli1980 @NewCaledonian81 & @issabellebokobza

My thanks also has to go to:
Audrey, Alain, Severine, Christophe, Thao, Sandrine, Laurence, Elizabeth & Stephanie’s blogs.