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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

George Michael - Unplugged


This is an article written by Berverly on her website. She was one of the lucky one to be invited to this private concert. Sorry Bev if I did not ask you the permition to put that on my blog… I am lacking of time!!! respect!!!


George Michael - Unplugged_FrontIf precious memories are "Something To Save", then I would like to share some recollections of a most special and magical occasion that I will certainly save for ever - the evening that my husband and I were in the audience for George Michael's "Unplugged" concert.
The security at the "secret" venue was extremely tight, and our tickets were examined closely several times before we were allowed anywhere near the studio complex where the concert was being recorded. We had previously been given instructions not to wear white (for the cameras), and not to attempt to take food, drink, drugs(!) or any type of recording equipment in to the studio with us! Once we had been cleared by security, we all had to queue up before being taken to "hospitality". Looking around the other people present, it was obvious that there was a great mix of fans and people from all aspects of the music industry, including some of the DJs from London's Capital Radio. We were led to our seats around 7.45pm. The atmosphere was really electric, people were just so excited at the prospect of George singing live again!
My husband and I were seated about halfway back in the studio, right in the centre of our row, and about four seats away from the VIP area, where we saw George's parents and other family members, Andros, Dick Leahy and David Austin. I will always remember the pride on George's mother's face that evening; I was particularly affected by her untimely passing just a few short months later.
In total I would guess that there were around 400 people in the Georgemichael_unplugged_cdaudience, and we were all quite squeezed in....I think that it could be termed an "intimate" venue!! The camera angles on the telecast made the studio look considerably larger than it actually was! Soon the band members, backing vocalists and orchestra took their places....
Suddenly, at around 8.15, there was George walking towards the stage, dressed all in black - a beautiful suit, shirt and tie - and with a huge smile on his face!! He looked so relaxed and so genuinely pleased to be there! The audience immediately began clapping and cheering - several people called out "Welcome back!". Once seated on his stool, George began a series of vocal warm-up exercises with his backing singers, much to our (and their) amusement! The live performance that then followed was one of the most impressive that I have ever witnessed, with George managing to make it both highly professional and huge fun for everyone present.
Along with the songs that made it to the final telecast, George also sang such classics as Hand To Mouth, One More Try and a wonderful version of Waiting For That Day. His voice was incredibly beautiful, he showed great control when it was needed, and also real strength. His version of Fastlove was close to the "Summer Mix", and Father Figure (one of my all-time favourites) was simply wonderful. Probably the most moving moment of the evening was when George sang You Have Been Loved. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was in tears, and so were several other members of the audience - the emotion that he imparts to his lyrics never ceases to amaze me!
Georgemichael_unplugged001It would be unrealistic to expect everything to run smoothly on such an occasion, so it will come as no surprise to learn that there were a few hitches, but they actually added to the unique atmosphere that evening! During one hold-up, George joked with the audience that we would probably have preferred to stay at home to watch Brookside (an English soap) - to which one wit shouted the response "No - Friends!", much to George's amusement. So what did go wrong? Well, the backing tape for The Strangest Thing decided to be temperamental; then George and the band each began the same song, but at different tempos, which was hilarious; and the wire leading from George's ear-piece kept coming loose, and having to be reattached to the back of his jacket with sticky-tape; and they almost forgot to perform Older! Then he wrongly credited Bonnie Raitt with having written I Can't Make You Love Me, and retook the intro....only to sing a line incorrectly, and have to go right back to the beginning again! George told us, laughing, not to worry because it would all be fine in "the edit"! At one point, something electrical became disconnected and George called for a stop - "I'm not plugged in!" - only to have the inevitable comment shouted from the audience - "That's because you're supposed to be unplugged!"! Naturally George was perspiring quite heavily under the studio lights, and a make-up girl had the enviable job of running on stage between songs to blot his face with a tissue. Throughout, George maintained a rapport with the audience and encouraged us to clap and sing along with the songs - as long as we were (joke!) "in time"!
Georgemichael_unplugged002The funniest thing occurred shortly after George and the band took a short break about halfway through the evening. He returned to the stage and started to sing, but there was a lot of hand-waving from off-stage - George's shirt was not tucked in at the front! What else could he do but turn his back to the audience, unzip his trousers and tuck his shirt back in?? The band suddenly struck up "The Stripper", and of course we were all clapping along and laughing!! Luckily, George saw the funny side of it all too!! By now the audience had really warmed up and people began to shout out requests. I think that George was really quite taken aback, but apologised to us, saying "We can only play what we've rehearsed". One person persisted, calling out again for Spinning The Wheel. George's response was remarkably candid - he wouldn't be singing that one because "we tried it and it sounded shit"! There were a few retakes of songs (mainly the slower ones) towards the end of the evening, but of course that was to be expected because we all know what a perfectionist George is, and he wanted this to be just right. And George Michael - Unplugged_BackI, for one, was delighted when he decided to retake Father Figure! Then, in an extraordinary act of generosity, George declared that he wanted to thank us all for our "patience" during the retakes. He asked for all the cameras to be switched off, even those overhead (one of which had been directly above us). He then invited us all to get up on our feet....and HE got up and danced on stage for the first time that evening while treating us to a second rendition of Star People! For me, this was the high point of an already incredible evening, and, believe me, there was absolutely nothing "edited" about the lyrical content of that song!!
The audience went absolutely wild, and then, before we knew it, it was all over....George left the stage just after 11pm, acknowledging the applause with smiles and waves. We were left to go home on a definite high! This was one evening that could have gone on for ever; but as it was, this girl really had got Everything She Wants! I feel so privileged to have been part of such a special occasion! And in case anyone still doubts it, I can say with confidence that, even without a sound system to blow your ear-drums, without heavy production, and in a semi-acoustic live setting....yes, George Michael really can SING!!


THE DATE : Friday, 11 October 1996
THE PLACE : Three Mills Island Studios, East London
THE BOOTLEG:


Type: CD Date: 1996-10-11 Quality: A++ Catalog-No.: Togal Togal 891019


Three Mills Studio, London, England, October 11th, 1996
1. 6:35 Freedom
2. 5:31 Fast Love
3. 5:42 I Can't Make You Love Me
4. George Michael - Unplugged6:17 Father Figure
5. 5:32 You Have Been Loved
6. 5:09 Everything She Wants
7. 5:14 Praying For Time
8. 6:13 Star People

Bonus tracks
9. 5:49 Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
10. 4:38 You Know That I Want To
11. 4:27 Safe
12. 4:41 Spinning The Wheel (forthright edit)


Total 65:48

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