London, The Royal Opera House, 6 November 2011 - by Marie Larmour

Did you receive an invitation to a special show & posh nosh for ‘Afters’ at the Royal Opera House in Olde London Towne?..."Happy Days" I thought at last I can do my bit for ET’s charity, oops that didn’t come out right…Elizabeth Taylor. I just needed a bit of help from wee Leo, George Michael’s English tour promoter. I can do a review and show my humanitarian side...After all Wee Leo @LeosMusic has to know that a remarkable ‘Twit’ reviewer will be invaluable on the English Leg of the tour!!!! And I’m an unbelievably remarkable Twit (naïve, vacant look)...ask His Nib’s Lovelies!

I read this..."Join George Michael for a very special evening at the Royal Opera House as part of European Symphonica - The Orchestral Tour. This unique event will benefit Sir Elton John’s AIDS Foundation’s newly created Elizabeth Taylor’s Memorial Fund. George will be accompanied by a full orchestra and has promised to sing some of his best loved hits including Cowboys and Angels, Kissing A Fool, Song To The Siren & Older to name but a few. All net proceeds from this special evening will benefit the Sir Elton John’s AIDS Foundation to support its global work helping people infected or affected by HIV. George said, ‘I have seen how HIV can affect peoples lives, how it can destroy families and communities. The way that the...Foundation gets help to the people around the world who need it most – often the most marginalised communities - really spurred me on to do something. I really wanted to honour the inspiring efforts that Elizabeth Taylor made - especially in the early years of the epidemic - and to mark her passing this year.’"

Tickets were sold out and ranged from £25-£250 and I believe £2,000 for the after show dinner. George gave a magnificent, inspired concert in the Royal Opera House, hosted a lovely after concert dinner in the adjacent Hamlyn Hall, an after dinner auction and raised over £1,000,000 in the process.

Situated in my favourite part of town, Covent Garden, The Royal Opera House, with its neo-classical portico fronting onto Bow Street (The first of its kind in London in 1809) is the Mecca and Jewel in all the crown of all Theatre ‘Luvvies’. This 2,250 seater, lavishly decorated, opulent theatre steps you elegantly and effortlessly back in time. It was the illustrious haunt of Handel, Margo Fontyne, The Royal Italian Opera and is the haunt of The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera. If it’s good enough for them then who am I to argue? It shares its Royal Patent with its only rival, The Theatre Royal Drury Lane but we don’t talk about them, (spits on keyboard, phiff!) Three balconies and standing room in the rafters is how they fit their capacity audiences into such an intimate ruby and gold gilded setting. Had the original gas lamps still been in operation, you would have been convinced that time had in fact stood still. What a place for some Posh Nosh with His Nibs!

I had it all organised. First I would be there in time for the 4pm Velvet, Gilt and Glamour Tour, only £8, starting in the very elegant opulent ROH rafters, I don’t think I suffer from vertigo! Afterwards, I’d meet my prince charming (Wee Leo) and out of its five restaurants and several bars, off we’d go to the original part of the building for some cold refreshment. The baroque styled, Crush dining room hosts elegant chandeliers, beautiful floral table arrangements, red velvet, gilded seating and butler, service who could resist?

I’d pre-ordered by phone; Cold Roast Partridge, Fried Bread Crumbs & Cumberland Plums followed by Rare Beef Fillet, Roast Root Vegetable Terrine, Grain Mustard & Red Wine Dressing. Dessert of Pear Frangipane Tart, Vanilla Cream & Coffee I was going to have in the interval. I’d also ordered my pre-concert drinkie-poos from the bar as well!!! Gosh the ‘Other Half’ really do know how to live! But you didn’t have to panic wee Leo, we were going pun intended Dutch Twitter Team!! Of course I’m not a control freak...delusional perhaps but definitely not a control freak!!

I was sooo excited reading all the tweets of the Lovelies about their dresses, heels, bags...Shopping in Blue Water, organising their meets & greets beforehand...and then there was the girls & their tweets!!!! No I’m joking, I’m joking boys! Lovelies were flying in from all arts and parts as usual even Guatemala and a host of celebrities were expected for this Black Tie event. I just knew I had to be there and wee Leo would be my hero and ‘Save My Day’. He read my other reviews so he had to have read my Royal Albert Hall one in Music News and my subtle hints about being needed!!! I have never been one to use overkill!!!

I was scrubbed, perfumed, all Regerised’d and wearing my one and only posh frock, killer heels & my mum’s evening gloves. Hair was up and black tie nonchalantly tied on my right thigh peeking from the tasteful split in my sparkly black dress! I was sitting patiently at my computer, phone in hand and ready for a truly fairytale evening...Big sorrowful sigh...I ended up Tiara-less & Beau-less!!!....... Dramatic pause while I wait for your sympathetic support! EXCUSE YOU ME!!! There IS...a LARGE PUMPKIN outside my door (From Halloween...DOH!!) & no,...BUTTON mushrooms aren’t the same as Magic ones, nor am I interested in your MAGIC WAND...CHARMING!!!!!

I had to make do with my buzzing timeline and the Dutch Twitter team who DID have tickets! Don’t worry, I’m keeping an eye out to see who Wee Leo ditched me for!!! Just call me Fatal as in Attraction! @RoyalOperaHouse had been tweeting earlier announcing His Nibs performance there, "exciting" is what they tweeted about it. Bev from @GeorgeMOfficial kicked off things with a reminder that it was an earlier 7.30pm start time and Black Tie event! I KNOW! Told you my black tie was discreetly around my thigh (& this was just the start of the evening!). "Lots of pretty dresses", "Lots of celebrities arriving", "Feet killing me". Oh oh, looks like mine’s isn’t the only pair of Killer Heels! "Bev looks fabulous in her black dress", "Lots of chatting going on" "Sound technicians in tuxes looking uncomfortable!"

Then came the stream of celebrities and their arrival press photos; Sir Elton John, Black suited & tied!!! & David Furnish, Lush red jacket and designer jeans??? Maybe he took the dress code advice of the ROH of "Just dress up and have fun" to heart!!! Raven haired Kylie Minogue arrived in a black velvet, low back dress with black lace sleeves, high white lace collar & black ribbon bow. She was accompanied by Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters in a black wet-look shirt and tight matching trousers but no tie, looking very distinguished for him! Michael McIntyre, James Corden and Laura Bailey, David Walliams and Lara Stone, Mel C & Janet Street Porter, Nick Candy and Holly Valance and Jackie StClair were also snapped arriving among others and all looked immaculate.

"Elton John is standing less than 4 metres away from me". "He’s in the stalls". "Kylie Minogue is sitting beside Sir Elton John". Oh, to rub salt into my wounds I had to tell wee Leo where Kylie was ‘cos he couldn’t see her and obviously wasn’t reading his tweets! (Do you think he’s ignoring me?) Even from the furtherest, darkest Rurals I was able to inform him! Men!! Row 5 was the "Celeb row"! Here was Janet Street-Porter among others and David Furnish was spotted brandishing his champagne bottle, supping, disregarding the food & drink ban in the auditorium!! Naughty!

Next to David Furnish sat David Walliams and Laura Stone his wife. David Walliams is a friend of George and was with him at one of his European concerts when George recorded an audio tweet from his hotel room but I can’t for the life of me remember which city! It must be my Mummyitis, it’s got much worse since this tour started or so my kids keep telling me! "Here I am 9 rows from the front!" This next tweet just irritated me even more than wee Leo! Grr there’s always one isn’t there! "No extra cameras spotted so far" was another less hurtful tweet. Presumably she meant camera men videoing the show. However according to Kerry Hopwood in charge of the audio preparation for the playbacks that synchronize the videos and the lights, they are constantly recording for use in the future album and there was video recording in the ROH!

Impatient clapping signalled that the crowd was more than ready for His Nibs. The orchestra was not in the orchestra pit but on stage as usual. No doubt having illusions of grandeur as well as the audience! They stop their fiddling and The Royal Opera House settles down to the now familiar strands of Through and My Baby Just Cares For Me. Royal Symphonica has begun. "George Michael is wearing a black suit, white shirt and black tie", "Oh my God he looks handsome".

When I looked at the photos of him on stage, he was looking very dapper, suited & booted! "Good evening Royal Opera House, tonight is special. I know how much my Mum loved to come here", says George with his Dad in the audience in her stead. Next "a song by someone who I think is here...Elton?" Elton waved from row 5,"'s about an ageing pop star, funny that!" Idol. "Idol was magnificent; he must have wanted to please Elton".

Next a beautiful instrumental solo bit, "On the sax Jeff Daly, now Cowboys and Angels". The tweets were coming in fast and furious as the concert went into full swing. "The glasses are off, Aahhhh". "Quite close to George Michael on stage, amazing gig." I’m starting to get annoyed close? "How many of you watched Comic Relief" asked George. "The f***er who wrote it is in the house". Then he went onto True Faith. "During True Faith George made a smoking gesture". "Glasses are back on". "You could hear a pin drop #Royaloperahouse for #Symphonica @GeorgeMichael". Things were obviously still at the respectable stage at this part of the concert!

"Safe is not on the setlist tonight. Instead Understand is in!"...Now here’s were I lost it somewhat...and I had to loosen my black tie to wring it around His Nib’s neck! I wanted Understand in the setlist for Dublin and I asked very nicely and politely! Did it get me anywhere??? Oh No! Totally ignored again just like with wee Leo!! Really gentlemen what’s a shy, retiring GIRL (shush I’m all Regerist’d) to do to get noticed here???? No Boys I definitely DON’T UNDERSTAND! This really isn’t the night I was expecting! George THE IGNORER, said of Understand, "Imagine the couple from Everything She Wants, 30yrs later. He realised maybe she didn’t care THAT much about the money."

The next tweet alluded to the..."Beautiful songs by Rufus and Terence". "First half of @GeorgeMichael at the ROH was absolutely class, loving the orchestra and the Terence Trent D'arby cover was quality!" "Here comes the big finish". "Symphonica Harpist (& lifelong GM fan), Michal Matejcik, was rocking his harp to the beat of Brother Can You Spare A Dime. He’s enjoying himself here. George is too, LOL". "George Michael sounds really good. Full, warm and clear. It almost feels and sounds as if he is in my living room." If he was in mine he’d be getting throttled with my black tie!!! I still don’t Understand! "First half was just outstanding. His voice is so good now".

While we’re in the interval I’ll attempt to edumakate and culture you lot with some DONT’S when in the ROH. I did my homework and wouldn’t have showed myself up or wee Leo had he had the decency to take me, hymp! DON’T leave your coats or bags in the restaurants or the bars while you are in the auditorium. They have to be checked into the cloak rooms! If you’re ordering ahead for meals or drinkie-poos you have to do it before 12 noon the day of the performance and the same for cancelling. Thankfully the ROH were nicer than wee Leo and told me to just ease up on the medicinal Irish coffees!...Hymp & double Hymp! DON’T get caught using a camera, they’re not permitted, even though there was quite a few in operation.

But this Don’t is very important, whatever you do DON’T mention FIRE in the ROH!!!! They really don’t like it!!! It might have something to do with it burning down twice before. The last time was when the director was on his hols in Paris in the mid 1890’s. There was a gas lit masqued ball which he expressedly forbade but which went ahead when they got his back turned. The eejits burnt the place down and they had to rebuild it for a second time. Whilst candlelight is romantic and gas lamps are pretty, there’s something to be said for electricity!

The management put the price of the tickets up to help pay for their sumptuous rebuild and the rambunctious ROH patrons of those times rioted every performance until the prices were reduced! Wonder what they’d make of the ticket prices tonight or the posh din dins!!! Either way I think it’s safe to say there will be no candle light supper here! It could well be safer than you thought to let your hair down in here judging by the Mo of past patrons! Keep that little thought in mind and lets move on to the second half.

"You Have Been Loved is not in the first half anymore" "It’s been moved to the beginning of the second half with new visuals of Elizabeth Taylor." "George is wearing a different suit, velvet reveres, black shirt and black tie". George says, "Tonight this song is for Elizabeth". A moving visual montage of pictures of the legendary Hollywood actress & child star accompanied George Michael’s rendition of the song he wrote for his late Mother, You Have Been Loved. "You Have Been Loved sounds hauntingly beautiful!!" "Huge applause from the audience!" George says..."From the album ‘Patience', I think one of the best lyrics I’ve ever written" and launches into John And Elvis Are Dead. "The Orchestra sounds very good in the ROH", "George’s voice is wonderful. He is trying to sing everything as beautiful as he can". "Not that chatty tonight, just the usual stuff" quipped a discerning multiple Symphonica devotee! "Some lively reactions for the start of a Different Corner" tweeted Bev. "No more setlist changes". "Huge applause for Kissing A Fool".

@Leosmusic "#KissingaFool just wonderful The #Symphonia orchestra on top form tonight"! Hymmp, it’s well seeing I’m not on top form, you’ve come out of your hiding then, I was wondering where you had got to wee Leo! I’m not allowed to put in the next @leosmusic’s tweet as @GeorgeMichaelNL has put a gagging order on me!!! (looking over shoulder and whispering loudly)...I think their friends. But suffice to say it had something to do with the speed of George Michael’s bits...have fun filling in your own blanks, you naughty minded peeps! Moving quickly unlike George..."Still very relaxed during Love Is A Losing Game then onto Russsian Roulette".

"George makes sure his notes are spot on, he seems to be doing different things with his notes but very subtle. We don’t think people notice", said @GeorgeMichaelNL. Bev was quick to tell them that she did notice and was keeping a close eye on things as usual! Meanwhile I was keeping a close eye on Bev ‘cos she was ducking and diving and welching on her earlier promise of a pic of her posh dress!!! I called her out and waited for backup from the troops at the frontline. They’re my bros now ‘cos they’ve adopted me as a fully fledged member of the Twitter team, ever since my inaugural, initiation solo tweeting session in Dublin!

Reliable as always the sisters in the hood, I mean the house, came up trumps with a gorgeous photo of a resplendent, if shy looking Bev all posh frocked! Gotcha Honey!!!! "Wooohooo, looking good Bev!" came a tweet. More power to the Twitter Army’s wee wheels, I mean heels, for such speed of delivery! "More power to your wee wheels" is an Irish saying meaning power to the little people. No I don’t mean leprechauns you munchkins! Put your tongue back in your cheeky mouth there Bev, honestly the thing people are able to tweet with their keyboards these days!!!

Back to the ROH and things were definitely hotting up under those very formal stiff collars & cuffs! "Every one who is going to run now for Feeling Good is going to end up in the orchestra pit!",...another bright spark quipped,..."That’s why they leave it empty!" "Feeling Good and Elton is clapping along". "George is back again and hasn’t changed his clothes" for the encore medley. "You look f***ing amazing" says George to the crowd, now ready to lose any inhibitions.

At the now customary warm up Gospel bit he said, "Who would like to sing with me? Who wants to take their smart clothes and sing with me?" What do you think happened?...The ROH was humming along nicely for Jesus! Next came the encore medley proper. "I’m Your Man is a big hit in the ROH!! Everybody singing along!" Incredulous reactions to this ROH’s performance were coming in. "Not sure you usually see the crowds like this," "Everyone is on their feet and they don’t want to sit down".

The star studded audience took to their feet and rocked the rest of the night away. They danced and sang like a regular pop audience despite being clad in all their respectable finery! A sea of black tuxedos, dickie bows and little black numbers were on their feet boogying. "We are now spotting stars who are doing their bit of singing in the audience". Such was the fun factor at the Royal Opera, David Walliams and Lara Stone sang to each other word for word along with Freedom and James Corden was seen "Going out of his mind" to it! The reason for such celebrity madness was of course the man himself getting down and naughty on stage with his singers. "Shirlie slaps George on his bum during the Freedom Sandwich!" "What a night, an absolute honour to be in the audience #pureclass #legend #hesgotthemoves". "Everybody on their feet, the whole of the ROH". "That’s one very happy crowd".

After this Black tie madness Michal and his harp wows the audience back into their seats as does Georges vocals in I Remember You. "Best rendition...George’s voice was surperb. You could hear the harp really well and beautifully played by Michal Matejcik". The new credits rolled on the big screen of all those working on the tour as the orchestra played out. This just started at the second show in Dublin and Royal Symphonica came to a close. "Awesome...loved the whole orchestra experience, the encore nearly brought the Royal Opera House Down". "What a great night!! Totally worth that ride in the night bus. This was truly special, so glad I was there".

@KylieMinogue tweeted "Great show @GeorgeMichael...Fantastic! And funds raised for Elton John AIDS foundation Elizabeth Taylor Foundation". On the other side of the world, another Pop Diva, Janet Jackson’s fans were filmed up on their feet in the Sydney Opera House, dancing to George Michael whilst waiting for her to come on! He doesn’t have to be there to get them on their feet in Opera houses!! Heaven help us I feel a GM Divo fit near, we’re going to get the L’oreal smirk again big time!!!

There was quite a lot happening afterwards alongside the posh din dins both outside the auditorium and on Twitter. Happy fans were buzzing around meeting up, kidnapping celebrities for photos and posting them up on twitter. Queen of the Twitter Snatch squad was @LILA_GMFAITH. She managed to snatch George Michael’s Dad and get her photo taken with him and now has it proudly emblazoned on her profile picture! Her antics were mirrored by her friend @GeorgeGirl6 who arrived at the ROH with Her 3ft ft by 2ft Happy Birthday request for herself aided and abetted in this project by @eileenmcguig, (if I’ve been nosey enough). Do you remember the one at the start, about 6 or 7 rows from the stage said "Here I am"?...that’s her! She wasn’t taking any prisoners either, she shook her placard with passion for George to notice! His Nibs complied from the stage as quite a few frenzied tweets acknowledged. "He mouthed it twice to me (Happy Birthday) & lovely Lila was next to me @GeorgeMichael I’m beside myself & feel very blessed today". She’s bringing it with her to Earls Court to see if she can get a kiss next time!!! As the ROH itself told GM Fans...DRESS UP & HAVE FUN!!!!!! THEY DID!!!!!

My thanks as always has to go to @GeorgeMichael, @GeorgeMOfficial, @GeorgeMichaelNL @SymphonicaTour, @GMichaelNews, @GMFamilyForums, @HenryHey, @TanteGeraldine, @Dutchieemy, @Dutch_ada, @HappyS74, @MagdaGMfan, @LILA_GMFAITH

New Twits on board are @KylieMinogue, @RoyalOperaHouse, @pmartjnr, @machinegun1967, @Johnonifico, @jocavalier, @labmrb, @Melaniecmusic, @Miss_Mia_K, @Nemesyss, @Georgegirl6, @bloomy29, @Johnsonifico, @udindex & @Windsobuoy and Ada For Short Blog.

A very special thanks has to go to @Leosmusic for being a sport and letting me paint him erroneously as a baddie. The poor man hadn’t a clue about any of the above and I just hope he doesn’t huff with me now or worse still sue me hasn’t a pot to p...ahem I mean I’m completely poverty strickened wee Leo and definitely not worth the hassle. It was a wee bit of craic honey, we Irish only blaggard those we like!!! Hope that’s some consolation and the fact that I’m back on my medication now and off the Irish coffees!!!