Before I start the Review of The Symphonica concert in the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday night, I have to deliver some very sad news to George Michael fans in Australia and New Zealand. Shortly before 1am this morning (Sunday 30th September), George Michael made a shock announcement regarding the cancellation of his Australian dates via his official website.

“I have today announced the cancellation of the shows in Australia which breaks my heart. By way of explanation….the doctors who saved my life warned me I would experience”….what can be best described as post near-death trauma. He choose to ignore their advice of counselling, opting to get back into music and performing, as a form of therapy but, “seriously underestimated how difficult this year would be and although I was right to believe the shows would bring me great happiness and that my voice would recover completely…..I was wrong to think I could work my way through the major anxiety that has plagued me since I left Austria last December. All that’s left for me to do is apologise to my wonderful Australian fan base and to promise faithfully that as soon as I can complete these shows here in the UK I will receive the treatment which is so long overdue – George Michael”.

The reaction from fans online so far has been of positive support for his difficult decision. From GeorgeMichaelNL “From the depths of our hearts we wish you well and support your difficult decision X”. “Wishing you strength for your period of treatment. It will be hard but you can do this. And we will all pray for you-always”. “Wow just seen the news about the Australian shows. I’m so sorry dear, must have been such a difficult decision for you.” “Tonight for the first time this tour we felt George was able to really finish it but now maybe cos pressure was off. Good for him respect.” “Sorry to hear about Australia but now is the time for healing body and soul. Your fans will be heart broken but they will understand”. “Take good care of yourself Hun…You are what counts…you are always in my thoughts and prayers xx”.

I send my own condolences to all Australian and New Zealand fans and wish George Michael a speedy, full recovery. Three steps forward and two steps back is still one step forward!

Judging by the tweets, George Michaels performance and crowd reaction, this was his best Symphonica to date. London’s homeboy was on top form and shaking Albert’s royal rafters. George Michael was back in the Royal Albert Hall, the hallowed home of the Proms and Mecca for classical music devotees. Last night he fulfilled his long awaited promise to reschedule his postponed Symphonica, The Orchestral Tour performance of last October 26th when he pulled his “Sickie”. This was the first London concert of the English leg of Symphonica part 2. Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow were all resounding successes. Tweets from excited fans started the day before and were accompanied by tweets and pics from his musicians and singers all excited about this special performance. “George Michael + Royal Albert Hall = the perfect show :0 See you there tomorrow evening X”. Ed Barker the new Symphonica Saxophonist for the English leg of the tour tweeted, “Can’t wait. Royal Albert Hall has always been a dream of mine – what a concert to be doing there!” George Michael tweeted, “Hey everybody, I’m happy to be playing in my home town again, especially as I had so much fun at the Albert Hall last time round”. George was spotted just after 5pm arriving at the venue for the sound check. With a 6.30pm ticket pick up, it wasn’t long before Bev from George Michael’s Official fan site tweeted, “The house just opened at Royal Albert Hall for #Symphonica and I’m on the floor ready to take pics of your pretty faces. Bev” (for the tour blog pages and Face Book).

Then the real deluge started as fans started to fill the plush red velvet curtained and gold leaf Victorian venue. The Royal Albert was again #TwitterLive. The Dutch Twitter Team was back in town as well so following the concert online would not be a problem. They posted their venue pics of the famous circular interior and plush balconies, its balcony boxes and rooftop alcoves. Some had been to the three course dinner on offer, some even ordered “Nibbles and Juice”. The now equally famous Symphonica curtain engulfed the stage, crimson and lush as if it had been there all of the RAH’s existence. The stage was sectioned off by a simple rope which meant the front row was mere feet away from the stage, any fans dream. “Filling up nicely here and as usual the Hall looks so beautiful”. I wonder what @Henryhey (pianist) meant earlier when he tweeted, “Royal Albert tonight. Count the holes.” “The lighting and sound booth are smaller here than everywhere else (other Symphonica venues), otherwise they could only fit in 10 rows of the floor seats”. “Backstage at the Royal Albert Hall with @BattleCat1981 waiting to interview George Michael. Kate Moss & Bryan Adams are here”.

“So orchestra fiddling is over and we start…”. The orchestra plays its intro and the familiar voice of George Michael can be heard singing the first few lines of Through behind the red velvet curtain. Then it turns black and becomes opaque with dazzling sparkling lights that dance and twinkle like fireflies. Still George can be heard from behind a black, giant sized, shadow; just detectable behind the black curtain. As his voice gathers strength and Through picks up tempo, suddenly the curtain is drawn upwards and back and the lights are brought up to reveal George Michael, mike in one hand and his fans already putty in his other hand! “The Curtain is open!...HUGE applause…Purple jacket, black trousers (& black tie), people! Who guessed? :0” After Through George Michael says, “Good evening London, let me see your hands!” and he smoozes his way into his first cover, Nina Simone’s, My Baby Just Cares For Me. “Lots of clapping and dancing”. “Hi Royal Albert Hall, How are you? I forgotten how close you are”. “Its straight back to the 80’s…Feel free to click along” and he dives into Father Figure. “RAH!!! @GeorgeMichael giving it loads!! Love ya Georgie boy!! Xx” “George Michael…RAH…Just awesome. “And the audience ends the last note on Father Figure with Timeeeeeeeeeee”.

“So RAH, how are we doing? I apologise for being a year late….I prevented a fire in the dressing room. So I saved all your lives”. Bev tweeted, “I think the audience forgives him”. Cowboys And Angels came next. “Boom!!! @GeorgeMichael the man + voice is back #Symphonica”. “@GeorgeMichael sounds as good live as if I were listening to a polished CD. #SoRareTheseDays #RawTalent. “First time this tour he points the mic at the audience to sing during Kissing A Fool #Symphonica.” “Going To a Town ( the usual Rufus story says Emy :0 )”. George introduces this cover by Rufus Wainwright “about gay rights”. “George is in a good mood tonight”. “…a very convincing Going To A Town”. “@GeorgeMichael rocking the house so worth the wait, we love George!”. “This next song was written by Terence Trent D’Arby” says George and sings Let Her Down Easy. “@GeorgeMichael your version of Let Her Down Easy was incredible”. “George Michael’s voice sounds beautiful and he is singing wonderful and relaxed, making big/large gestures #Symphonica” “This song is as always for my Mother and Anselmo and for all you who have lost”…Loud applause from the audience. “You Have Been Loved elicits some loud cheers indeed. Bev #Symphonica”. “Lovely air piano playing by George, high note inclusive”… “Everyone in the first and second row in tears during You Have Been Loved”. “The man who wrote that song with me told me today, ‘why don’t you give me the credit for that one?’ So this one was written by me and….David Austin, give him a cheer!” Next it’s the Bowie cover of Wild Is The Wind. “Let’s see you standing up” he said to the audience. “It took a while but now everyone is standing” George Michael is improvising with the adlibs. One of the better versions of Wild is the Wind #Symphonica”. “Absolute show stopper of first half was Wild Is The Wind”… The first set closer is the big band number and Bing Crosby cover. “The closing notes of Brother Can You Spare A Dime, Signals the start of Intermission. See you in 20. Bev #Symphonica.” “I have been to concerts in my life! George Michael’s show is the best”. @GeorgeMichael in amazing form at Royal Albert Hall.” Incredible first half with @GeorgeMichael giving it 200% right from the start. He seems very happy to be back here! “May have had to wait a year but it was worth it. @GeorgeMichael stunning at Royal Albert Hall”. “He is doing the big moves, gymnastics with his voice and beaming a big smile. @GeorgeMichael is having fun!!! “The crowd is very appreciative and rather loud. George is singing like an angel and making jokes-quite chatty.” “@georgeMichael is bloody brilliant tonight, his voice is better than ever.” “Pretty sure I just passed Kate Moss in the hallway backstage  Bev #Symphonica”.

“And we’re off…” “Here we go Lovelies Waiting For That Day starts off the second half and London is loving it Bev #Symphonica”. “George Michael all in black now! Who was predicting that earlier? ;0. “Everyone is up again…Royal Albert Hall singing ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ “This song was also written by myself and David Austin. Big Cheer for him!” says George Michael....*Big Applause* (from the audience)…”Selfish Bastard”…”That’s best friend talk for I love this guy!” Then GeorgeMichaelNL tweeted sardonically…”John And Elvis Are (Still) Dead”. @MarshallArts, George Michael’s English promoters tweeted, We’ve just been enjoying talking to you at the Royal Albert Hall for @GeorgeMichael #Symphonica and everyone agrees the show is AMAZING!”.
“ ‘This beautiful beautiful song is written by Sting. It’s all about prozzies’ @GeorgeMichael being very funny tonight. Bev #Symphonica”. Then George Michael says… “This next song was written by New Order about the nature of addiction…which of course I know nothing about!” “A little less vocoder (tonight) but still there in True Faith.” “It’s going really well with George’s voice tonight!! Sounds amazing! Super goed (In Dutch)! #Symphonica.

“‘Such a long time ago’ says George Michael…No surprise HUGE cheers for A Different Corner. Bev #Symphonica….Audience remained silent for a while but now they are cheering and clapping during the instrumental part… Now its over and HUGE cheers!” “George sings ‘I love you’ in You’ve Changed and somebody in the audience goes ‘I love you toooo’, extremely out of tune…all of RAH laughing”….”Happens twice, hilarious!” “Har! ‘Just imagine me as a 19 year old black girl and you’re there’ (says George Michael), Russian Roulette Bev #Symphonica”. @GeorgeMichaelNL naughtily tweeted, “In other words he is referring to Bev! Lol”…. Everyone is up again…George Michael wants to see your hands! AGAIN! ;0…Sorry darling, we’re tweeting tonight :p”. “Everyone is cheering and clapping at the end of Russian Roulette”. http://youtu.be/WcR-dMwigwQ Via Dutchieemy.
“The crowd stays on its feet for Praying For Time Bev #Symphonica”. “@GeorgeMichael Praying For Time nobody better”.

“London are you Feeling Good?” “Well THAT was a definitive response to ‘London are you Feeling Good?’ Bev #Symphonica” “George is doing his share of raunchy dancing, now he waves at us, ‘Thankyou, goodnight!’ Via @Dutchieemy”. “George is gone and audience stamping on the floor”. “#RAH makes a lot of noise to bring George back…” “I do believe London wants an encore. Bev #cheers #Symphonica”. “He’s back Louuuuuuuuuuuuud Cheers”. “ ‘Oops I forgot, just put a Fisherman’s friend in my mouth….was it worth a years wait?’ #Symphonica”. Then he proceeds to give “A big thank you to the band”. “George Michael introduces everyone and nearly went wrong with Jay (Henry) so he says, ‘we’ll call you Jenny’ #Symphonica @Dutchieemy”. “London I think you are amazing!” and he slips into the Medley. “RAH welcomes I’m your Man with huge cheers …All of the RAH sings along” to it….. “ ‘Wanna take you, wanna’ and George is shaking his hips…to the front…hupla!! ;0”. “Harpist Michal Matejcik is head banging! Lol”.

“Freedom now and the roof is going off in the RAH (hope they are insured :0). “Alright!! UK Symphonica Orchestra is participating with their arms in the air! #Freedom #Symphonica”. “Sandwich Time!” and George Michael gets made a steak sandwich of by Lucy and Shirley, his two girl backing singers every night at this point in the medley. Then “And off he went! Now chanting for another encore!...And he’s back for a second encore after the crowd almost brought the house down”. “White Light”…George Michael is jumping up and down on stage! ( what’s in that fisherman’s Friend tablet?? :0 ) via @Dutchieemy. “The RAH audience gets White Light for the second encore. Let me reiterate, they’ve not sat down since Russian Roulette! Bev #Symphonica”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DJ_pRvxXdg via Carolinetillyann. “ ‘…Your Song!!! London Good Night! I love you! Take care of yourselves. I’ll see you next time” Bev #Symphonica”. “And George Michael leaves the stage….Free is played by the orchestra”.

George Michael you were absolutely terrific. I wish the night didn’t have to end. I love you ;0”. “George Michael singing Russian roulette was the best thing ever”. “@GeorgeMichael, great show, more volume more warmth in tone. First show I didn’t worry about his voice, (she’s been to 20 Symphonica’s), lots of dancing”. @Dutch_ada tweeted, Henry Hey to say, “Thank you for an amazing show! And it was lovely to see you finally conduct the orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall”. “@GMSingers @JVoxAcademy @GeorgeMichael Thank you all for a perfect show- it was totally worth it to return to London (from Holland) just for this one!” Jay Henry, one of his backing singers tweeted from @JVoxAcademy, “Thank you, I’m so happy you enjoyed the show .”. Ed Barker the saxophonist @Edthejazzman tweeted, “Wow it was unbelievable. You were such an amazing crowd and wasn’t George Michael just perfect!!?”. “Una Palliser (Viola) tweeted @unapalliser, “First London Gig of George Michael tonight at Royal Albert Hall. Listening to guitarist’s @Benbutlernyc’s new record on way home”. And with that the Royal Albert Hall calmed itself back to its classical reserve, the George Michael fans still on a high, left for home/pubs/clubs no doubt to talk and tweet for hours yet.

But in lieu of tonight’s sad cancellation of George Michaels Australian leg of this Tour, I will leave the last tweet to a Lovely from New Zealand who has been online for previous #Twitterlive concerts and tweeted looking forward to her own live concert “Down Under”…. “@GeorgeMichael it’s fine, just got up from a snooze. All AOK, I love you…always, Blessings George ;-)))))”

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