Belgium, October 2011 - by Marie Larmour

There were two venues in Belgium. The first was in the Sportpaleis in Antwerp on the 7th of October, with a seating capacity of between 15,000 & 18,000. The next night he was in the Forest National/Vorst Nationaal, in Brussels on the 8th. It holds 8,000.

"Ready to party? Join us on Twitter". The Dutch fan club were in town! Please note the following disclaimer...I’m NOT responsible for the madness that flows from the Twitter Team at George Michael concerts but like the rest of you I’m very grateful and more than up for it!

Pity the same can’t be said for a couple of the Belgium press! The Press leave early as the press are want to do, to meet their deadlines. This means they can only accurately report on the first bit of the concert. I think that little caveat is very important to bear in mind when reading press reviews and may well explain some of the disparities found with theirs and the actual concert goer’s reactions.

If you think I’m being too kind then relax I’ll dissect them later! Oops I mean I’ll analyse their reports with my twitter facts and together we’ll get to the bottom of them! Although I have to say that when I turned Mr Arenillas, the Spanish Rolling Stone narcoleptic, upside down, (as you do, when trying to get to the bottom of things), all I found was a "MADE IN LAND OF NOD" sticker...most unhelpful!

Back to our Twitter party! "I’ve just packed my 25Live backpack for a quick trip to Brussels on Saturday/Sunday to see George Michael - I’m feeling Good!" George himself was 'twitpic’d' leaving his home in London, airport bound for Antwerp that morning, (I-phone in hand!!! Twitter Lovlies). He’s obviously still working on his mixes, etc for a Christmas album release. The Red Transformer trucks arrived and Red George, new nickname of Sentinel Prime, (Transformers Of The Dark Moon) transformed the Sportspaleis into Symphonica Land. Wee son’s a transformer nut, I mean expert, very sorry wee son!

"We are ready for an amazing weekend on the ‘Symphonica Tour’ with our beautiful talented boss", tweeted the @GMSingers. "Scored an amazing last minute ticket for Antwerp. If you see a Black girl being happy in row 2 – that’s me!" Before you start being ‘all happy’ for her; it’s her 5th Symphonica so far and she’s been to at least 2 more since Belgium! Here’s poor me and the rest of us, twittering away in our living rooms! But not only is she a dedicated fan, she’s a dedicated twitter trooper and gives as much as she gets if you know what I mean! "Reporting for twitter duty again! Brought all my reporting gear too, rather a lot, LOL". She wasn’t joking, I saw the picture. All I have for Dublin is my wee Non-Smart, internet phone, its stupid like its owner and its apps are non-existent like its owners!!!

Another one of the Dutch scouts was in early and got talking to Michal Matejcik, (complete dedication these Dutch troops)! Pity they couldn’t get to Stuttgart or the Swiss concerts. The Swiss were ever so Twitless but that’s another very short review or possible not!! "Just met Michal Matejcik. Nice. Rehearsal went well". Michal is the harpist who has everyone enthralled with his breath taking playing and his superb harp solo which finishes the concert. He’s also the one with his arms in the air waving and clapping in time to the music when he’s not playing. Sources have told me he’s a long time GM fan. We kind of stick out like a sore thumb don’t we Michal? From Slovakia, he’s currently working in Vienna and has his own website if you’re into classy nimble plucking.

More wee tour titbits have been brought to my attention. Like the good wee Twit that I am I will do my duty and 'inform'. My sources tell me, (doesn’t that sound all professional? I could get the hang of this journalism lark!), that the orchestra has rehearsed Safe for the tour and sometime during the tour we could expect to hear it. Nooo! Rehearsed Safe doesn’t mean they played it with the their instrument cases still on, it’s a song and no, you can't do your CSI routines to find out where I dug up my info (that's a wee archaeology joke cos me's an over qualified grave digger!!) Behave and keep stum or you'll not get anymore wee titbits! Now where was I before I wandered?

Oh yes, Sportspaleis in Antwerp. "I’ll be out in the house in about 5, you ready for me and my camera Antwerp? - Bev". "Counting down but George takes his time...what’s new ha ha". Looks like I’m not the only irreverent fan about! Thankfully the time honoured royal Off-with-the-head routine has gone out of royal fashion or we’d be in real stook! "I’m in my seat and what an amazing seat it is! Right in the middle. (She was only in row 2!) Seen so many friends already". Told you the Dutch were in! "Orchestra tuning up! Which means starting time". "And the lights are!! #SymphonicaTour."

"George starts, sounding a bit hoarse...a little rough around the edges". "George Michael he has a rough edge on his voice tonight". " a cold but giving his all", "GM mood subdued". As the concert progressed it became obvious that poor George had indeed caught a cold but don’t panic folks it was a little one and just made him deep & husky (honest, I listened to the uploads!). Even as the concert continued his voice improved as the later tweets validated.

Such is the measure of his vocal capabilities and their superb quality that even with a cold he still sounds good. He simply adjusts his register to accommodate the deeper key his voice is in and carries on. His dedication to his fans was obvious; even though he wasn’t well he still sang his heart out and literally brought the house down at the encore. His professionalism would be tested further due to personal reasons the following night but again he didn’t let his fans down.

Back to the first concert, apologies folks but I believe the key to real understanding is in the detail. That’s my excuse for rambling on so much. What was the Belgium press’s excuse? Multiple personality disorder or speaking in tongues? I’m rambling again, focus on the next concert woman!! "Nice start. He’s having fun. ‘Goedeavond Antwerp’. And he ends My Baby Just Cares For Me with Pedompiedom". "Did George just bust out some Flemish before My Baby Just Cares For Me?...- Bev". No Bev sorry according to the troops it was in fact Dutch he was speaking with a slight German accent! Exactly what kind of Lingusic exercises have you been practicing Mr Michael?

"...the patented GM smirk is back...". That would be his ‘L’Oreal Smirk’ when things are going his way and he’s producing the all know it, his ‘YOU KNOW I’M WORTH IT’ cheeky smirk! "Michal Matejcik is singing along with Idol. Haha we caught him on camera! Hehe." "You Have Been Loved - Beautiful! The orchestra plays beautifully". "George Michael is the voice of the...World!"

I heard and watched uploads from internet ready Lovelies (no double meanings, behave naughty peeps!) and videos from U Tube. Now before the perfectionists all start complaining, I appreciate that there’s a noticeable difference in the sound production from the actual auditorium’s acoustics and what mobile devices can deliver. I know this and have kept this in mind while listening and reviewing them. While listening to Let Her Down Easy on You Tube I noticed his voice had a slight deeper, nasal tone to it as we all have when we get a cold. I’ve heard it on one of his album tracks before and I have to say, I loved it then as I loved it now on the You Tube upload. He’s annoyingly good despite being under the weather. When you have that amount of talent you can just DO, regardless of circumstance or musical medium. When you DON’T have IT, like Moi, you WRITE about those who DO! Tell the truth & shame the Devil my mum always told me!!!

"OMG Wild Is The Wind in the David Bowie Version. George working the stage and belting out the song so cool. Tomorrow Video on You Tube." "Antwerp is on a break. Be back soon with more set list tweets". "Intermission time. Net connection still spotty - Bev". Bev was having her own problems with the acne’d and unreliable Belgian Google that she had paid good money for! That’s teenagers for you, gobble up your hard earned cash and laugh at you when you look surprised they don’t deliver on their promises, (Googles turned thirteen now God help us!). "Hey boyz and girls intermission in Antwerp" tweeted our wee sick music man when he should have been resting.

"Song To A Siren means were a third of the way through the second half - Bev". "His voice got better after the first half". "Huge huge applause for A Different Corner", "You’ve Changed sounds good. Only because his voice is so fantastic you notice the difference. Good but not fabulous". "Praying For Time Antwerp is loving it – Bev". "Now Feeling Good and the audience already are starting to move forward to the stage". "I stand in the front and he pointed at me", tweeted on very happy fan! "Party time G. Michael in Antwerp. Everybody is ready". "George says his thank you’s and he tells the audience that Phil is with him for a very long time now...and then he forgets what to say...and then he smiles". "‘Are you ready to sing? To dance? To shake your ass for me?’ What do you think"?

"...and when George smiles we all smile, we are happy". "And Antwerp loses its collective mind for the Freedom 90 part of the encore medley - Bev". "Orchestra joining in Freedom with their hands in the air, we need more uptempo in the show @GeorgeMichael". The fans just want to party now. It’s your own fault George Von Tease, I’ve no sympathy for you even though you’re under the weather! If you’re going to whip them up into a frenzy, then the least you can do, is let them at it for a good 20-30 minutes. I’m sure they’ll be out of breath and glad of a wee sit down then!

"Beautiful and moving". "Symphonica George Michael is ace! Grab a show if you can. At Sportpaleis with 20 others." This was the mood and the tweets from the audience in the Sportpaleis. "I just got home from Antwerp…still on my George cloud!!!! Thank you for this dream come true!!!". The fans are still coming from all over the world for Symphonica and enjoying every minute of it despite George Michael’s cold. "Fabulous show in Antwerp! I came from Vegas to see it". Mary from Spiddal is ready to leave in Ireland..."Got my ticket to Symphonica in Dublin. Hotel and train tickets booked...I can’t wait". Before any of you well travelled Europeans start with the smart remarks, first try travelling in Ireland!!! I bet you any money you will get from Paris to Warsaw in a third of the time it’ll take poor Mary to get from Spiddal to Dublin and with far less wear and tear! Trust me our national railway’s not called IarnROD Eireann for nothing! Mary’s in for a bumpy ride!! But I’m sure His Nib’s will make it worth her while!

"George was very good yesterday, (Antwerp ) maybe not as stellar as in Verona, but VERY GOOD! Better than 99% of live acts". "...they (the press), must not have been around for the second half then, certainly not monotonous! Never mind, idiots are everywhere". These last two tweets were in response to some press coverage of George Michaels Antwerp’s performance. "Dull, gloomy and sombre, still bitter and sad over his split with Kenny Goss. Ironic he sang 'Feeling Good' and only used the full symphony orchestra in a few numbers (???). Slow mid tempo dominated the whole performance...(see what I mean about the press leaving early?)...numbers were more jazzy and blues..."

"12,100 spectators (Capacity audiences??), felt almost relieved that he still did some great original songs. The emotion of the lyrics of A Different Corner are still as fresh today even though it was released in 1986." Obviously Bert Hertogs (The Belgian Reviewer), appreciates George Michael’s music, he just must just have the same musical therapist as his Spanish counterpart in Madrid and the two of them must have 'tuned in' to a completely different concert than the rest of the audiences.... Bert is a Belgium reviewer for whose mission statement on their logo is (wait for it) 'No Gossip Just Facts'! How very choice!!

He continued..."George Michael's falsetto may have disappeared but he still sings tenor but much more fragile than during his 25 Live Tour. He sounds a little hoarser, deeper than before." (?? Do you think fragile, hoarser and deeper might be due to his cold Doh!). However Bert loved the "Beautiful video footage" during Feeling Good strangely enough!!! "Prostitution was elevated to something beautiful, an art form in itself...The burlesque photo’s with feathers..." Did he even hear the concert while Dita’s boa was tickling his artistic funny bone? Is that why he referred to the audience earlier in his review as spectators because all he was doing was watching the beautiful array of gorgeous girls and magnificent visuals?

Then Bert stated..."Very introspective but melancholic and negative...others who did not want to bathe in negativity on a Friday night opted for early action in a different way, to escape: through the front door".

Now I’m really peeved to put it mildly because I’ve just wasted the last three hours doubting my own research against his WITTERINGS!! Really I should know better now than to doubt the calibre of the Lovelies TWITTERINGS! After searching all the twitter sites and the press reports available, I haven’t a clue who or what he’s talking about. He didn’t explain the "crowd starting to move towards the stage" (not the door),..."Antwerp losing its collective mind at the encore" or who "gave him (George Michael) a standing ovation at the end". Who exactly were the "others" all busy running out the door presumably to the nearest pub before the end, I’m puzzled is this a case of selective memory perhaps or the need of a new therapist for his wee delusions?

Sorry to bore the pants off you all. I’m positive I haven’t bored you before (please don’t burst my wee bubble, I’m convinced I’m a entertaining reviewer), the press aren’t the only ones with a monopoly on delusions. However conscious of how much I do babble, here are snippets from just two further reviews that elucidate the majority of the Belgium presses’ concert reviews. George Michael's..."Symphonica Tour easily confirms the man’s superstardom: for Antwerp and Brussels concerts, the tickets flew out the door...Controlled, confident and several pounds lighter, George Michael in his 48th year is reborn. He is now a well oiled machine, stringing together concerts...He proved he still sets stadiums ablaze...the sold out crowd in Belgium got to see a showman so professional that by blowing battered vocal chords he perfectly conceals a slight cold and bypasses high notes effortlessly..."

"Sturdy and stylish for a Friday night...In terms of musical experience, vocal strength and authenticity he outclasses many (younger) colleagues in the pop industry." "George Michael goes classic...A FULL Sports Paleis exhuberantly welcomed him...Modest and intimate at times...he has nothing to worry about...The fans are back in large numbers...George wants to win more fans over to this new diversity in his music...Like Madonna he wants to generate new exciting ways to strike" Ronald Janssen. I could quote far more but to be honest, at this stage in the tour, I’m fed up quoting all the brilliant reviews that His Nibs constantly gets. Its actually more sport, tackling the few bad ones out there, (can you tell?)

"Good morning all, I’m loving Brussels, the city and the people, see you at the show tonight xx" tweeted Jay Henry. @GMichaelNews tweeted "Wishing all the lovelies a very good show in Belgium. Enjoy yourselves and bring us lots of wonderful memories". There is also a very nice English promoter tweeting, (Me’s sending big Sugary Slurp Slurps at wee Leosmusic kissey kissey!). He doesn’t know it yet but he really needs his own concert reviewer for the English leg! Hint hint & pwreetty pleeease! @Leosmusic tweets, "promise to take lots of photos of your Symphonica Tour fun".

Now Wee Leo, if I can manage to manufacture this amount of "quality writing stuff" and divulge loads of titbits about the European leg of the tour from the deepest, darkest Irish Rurals, think what I could do, let loose in the Royal Albert Hall, the English arenas and God forbid, The Royal Opera House!!! I can mind my P’s & Q’s with the best of them, it’s my Oooh’s & Aaaah’s I’ve a problem with! Posing in my only posh frock with my jaw constantly at my knees might not be the preferred look this Symphonica season true!

Hymmm perhaps that’s not the best C. V. pitch I’ve ever made for a job!...I think I’ll get back to the Brussels review then shall I? Alrightey then (little sigh)..."Seeing George from a few feet away was special", Hympp, this twit (me) has to make do with a twitpic!!! My Pet Lip’s out! (Irish speak for baby’s bottom lip curling up when no-one sympathises with them), WEE LEO I’m talking to you!! Stop hiding under your twitter pile ‘promoting’ your latest cloak of invisibility gaget!

According to this fan she, "Saw 25th and 26th concert in 6yrs and yet to hear George Michael give a bad vocal performance...When George is on top of his game, his energy completely fills the stage...In Brussels George and the audience were feeding off each other". "Now this is better. George is grinning, crowd cheering loudly, voice is great...doing adlibs all over the place...loudness of the crowd 9+". "Voice better than Antwerp, roughness gone".

Things did not run smoothly however. The autocue, which now was beaten firmly into submission by His Nibs, was aided and abetted by yet another ill-disciplined stage accessory with illusions of grandeur. George was attacked by a chair as he went for a drink of water! Relax folks...the chair’s fine! Seeing George from a few feet away mauling a poor wee chair must indeed have been 'special'! I miss all the fun!

Inanimate objects vanquished in Brussels (Help, I could well be next if I keep this irreverence up!), His Nibs was vocally well and truly back on form again but there was sadness behind the professional exterior. His constant desire to give his fans the best time that he can when they take the trouble to come support him, is testament to his dedication to them, no matter what is happening behind the scenes. "Whoa George dedicates this performance of You Have Been Loved to his friend Maria, who passed today #Symphonia #RIP - Bev". The man deserves his privacy so I’ll say no more.

He threw himself into the concert and continued to sing his heart out. "Was so excited about Song To A Siren and it was unbelievable, so good, goose bumps all over". "Audience applauded enthusiastically for everything...the absolute show stopper was A Different Corner". Before the medley the crowd showed its appreciation wildly, they "Went nuts...judging by the big grin on Georges face he liked it". "#Symphonica going deaf here. Encore time". "The medley...George had so much fun, grinning and dancing". "George has a groove, a way of moving, a velvet voice that few, very few artists can boast". "Really amazing, Twitter is crazy" as lovelies online were joining in on the excitement.

"The Harp is divine, so magical the sounds it gives". According to more of my conscientious digging for tour titbits, Michal Matejcik plays the harp during all but five songs throughout the concert. Bet you were all so enthralled with His Nibs on stage that none of you even noticed that little gem!!! See me's a Big Oracle of knowledge. No that doesn't mean I've B O!!! It's a Classical Greek fortune teller that knows things no-one else does!!! "Honestly what are you like?", as His Nibs would say! More Tour Titbits now...Our George got nominated for the Songwriters Hall Of Fame 2012! Congratulations-about time! Its more than hard earned! More Titbits from the tour! I’m spoiling you I know but (Flicks hair back Miss Piggy style) L’Oreal readers I mean Loyal readers Your Worth it! Lovely wee Leo...I SAID LOVELY WEE LEO at @Leosmusic announced that Extra tickets have been released for the Glasgow concert at SECC on December 6th and for the Royal Albert Hall. Although judging by the delay in the publishing of my reviews by MY EDITOR...(tapping keyboard LOUDLY Marco!!!), this will of course be ancient history!!! So much for being a journalist if my news gets queued instead of viewed, hint hint!

The last words on the subject I’ll leave to two fans as you really do say it better than me:

"It was perfect from beginning to end with complete technical mastery of his voice. That said, his mood was sorrowful at times because as he had told us, he has just lost a friend...He seemed so touched by the tone of the applause and he told us that there was no better way for him to spend his Saturday night." "Brussels loves George and George said he loves us, so all is good LOL".

My thanks goes to: @GeorgeMichael, @GeorgeMOfficial, @GMSingers, @JVoxAcademy, @HenryHey, @themarkmclean, @Leosmusic, @GeorgeMichaelNL, GMichaelNews, @GMForums, @FannyWalters, @Dutch_ada, @Dutchieemy, @HappyS74, @AnnemiekGM, @MagdaGMfan, @Disney30, @Marj1970 & @Nicolady87

New Lovlies:
@Corine_de_Hart, @Lou2204, @JeffreySchenk, @RafchkaLoveYOG, @gregvaneeckhout, @markcoel, @Biancakwakernaa, @Marijkevw, @Bizzonweb, @SpiddalMary, @Christiepooh, @HansDupont, @atowncalled, @iDave010, @herrybabe, @MissHoefje, @Miss_Bongy, @cebe_muziek, @kennyDBI, @SIOUXSIE62, @Ahoyrotterdam, @RIDEHERE & @Brampi, George Michael News Blogs; Christophe & Didier.