In arguably his best song ever, “Freedom ’90,” George Michael memorably promised, “I won’t let you down, I will not give you up/Gotta have some faith in the sound, It’s the one good thing that I’ve got.” But last night, at the ’80s pop idol’s first L.A.-area concert in 20 years — a video-effects-heavy, two-and-a-half hour set — it became clear that his “one good thing” is sadly diminished.
After confessing that he can’t hit the high notes anymore, George held out the mic Sally Jessy Raphael-style for some much-needed audience participation. The thousands of gay men, female ex-teeny-boppers, and devoted husbands didn’t disappoint, passionately belting out “Careless Whisper” and a string of other classics.
But plenty of George’s good thing is still intact. (After the jump, get the scoop on the highlights, plus some boo-inspiring celebrity sightings in the audience.)
addCredit(“George Michael: Jordan Strauss/WireImage”)
To this day, George can croon a tune like few others. On jazzy, stool-perchingnumbers like “Praying for Time” and “Jesus to a Child,” he managed toturn the massive Forum arena into an intimate, sophisticated,Vegas-style lounge (a vibe only heightened by his ever-present tintedshades and slicked-back, Wayne Newton ‘do). But the torch songs seemed to outnumber the dancehits (what, no “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”?), and whenever George gotup to get down — even donning apolice uniform and mirrored shades for the ever-suggestive “Outside” — I couldn’t help but think he might have benefited by taking Madonna’s lead and getting obsessive about pre-tour training.
On one of his breaks from sweatin’ to the oldies, George announced, “Iprobably shouldn’t say this, but Dr. Phil’s in the audience.” That led to a chorus of “boos” from the audience, which quickly turned to cheers when George added that the self-help guru’s wife was “having awhale of a time,” and then back to boos again when the singer got to thepoint: Dr. Phil was “making this miserable face. He’s been doing it formore than an hour. Maybe you should see someone about that,” Georgeadvised, sealing the dis.
Other celebrities in attendance got more loving treatment. George made a public apology to his EliStone costar, Jonny Lee Miller, for tryingto chat up the actor between takes on the set. “It wasn’t until I wasin the car leaving the set that I realized he wasn’t being rude, he wastrying to stay in character,” marveled George, who admitted he can be alittle “thick.”
Thick or not, George was showered with love by the crowd, which triedto sing “Happy Birthday” to him numerous times. The sing-along finallystuck when another ’80s icon, Bo Derek, inexpicably came out on stageholding what appeared to be a giant, fake sheet cake. With that, the 45-year-oldBrit soaked up the long overdue West Coast love.