“The most famous male slapper on the planet” is how George Michael once described himself to me, tongue firmly in someone’s rosy cheeks, no doubt.
And after the avalanche of unfavourable headlines the past few years you might have forgotten that he was rather better known for something else. So how fitting that, just a day after the finality of the court case, the man they call Yog should be given the honour of performing the Inaugural Concert of the shiny new Wembley Stadium to remind us of many moments of pop brilliance.
Showing no sign of nerves, remarkable considering what a major event it is, George has the 85,000 capacity crowd on their guilty feet the moment the impressively curvy video screen parts to reveal him looking dapper in maroon of blazer, and in great health, not to mention great voice. At 43, middle age, rather large new teeth and the substance abuse seem to have left his remarkable vocal chords in amazingly fine fettle. In fact I found myself wondering if the 25Live moniker was actually a cheeky reference to the number of joints he’s been known to get through in a day, rather than the official line of celebrating his quarter century of making records.
The audience, surprisingly dominated by Essexy hetero couples, even let him get away with covering an obscure Elton song, Idol, while simultaneously mocking the bewigged one’s showbiz residency in Las Vegas, not to mention lapping up every syllable of a tumultuous Careless Whisper that the Georgious one ended up being a guest vocalist on his own song! George seemed so moved by the response that he looked on the verge of tears. Witnessing such a sight, even this hardened hack felt his bottom lip start to tremble.
It’s not the only time I’ve trembled in his company, mind. Rewind back to his palatial Georgian mansion recently: “Did Steve tell you he turned up at one my concert last year wearing a T-shirt that said ‘I wanked off George Michael’? asked the hairy one to my fellow GT interviewer. On a break from the questioning he’d turned the tables on me and I started to worry: “I felt like getting a T-shirt of my own printed up with the words “No you fucking didn’t!” Phew, panic over. He’s frank, if nothing else, and an absolute joy to chat with. And you can read his frankest interview ever in GT, out June 20.
First published: QX, June 2007.