It's a testimony to George Michael's long and prolific career that he performed a 2 1/2-hour show at the United Center and still didn't sing all of his hits. There was no 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go' and there was no 'I Want Your Sex,' for instance.
But make no mistake: Michael certainly kept concertgoers more than satisfied in a packed arena July 9.
He promised the audience that he would 'work [ his ] arse off,' and he certainly did. Starting off with the '90s hit 'Fastlove,' Michael—who is touring to support his greatest-hits compilation, Twenty Five, which includes songs he did as part of the duo Wham!—kept the groove going ( and the crowd dancing ) with songs such as 'Hard Day,' 'I'm Your Man' and 'Star People.' The dancing continued after intermission as he kicked off the second half with 'Faith,' and sang hip-shakers like 'Flawless ( Go to the City ) .' The openly gay crooner also sang 'Amazing' and 'Outside' after commenting on California's recent decision to allow same-sex marraige.
However, for all the grooving, there were also several laid-back moments. For instance, Michael performed a jazzy bit that included 'Kissing A Fool' and an intriguing cover of The Police's 'Roxanne.' He also included songs such as 'One More Try,' 'Father Figure,' 'A Different Corner' and a very poignant cover of Roberta Flack's 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.' When the saxophone started on 'Careless Whisper,' the collective sigh of the attendees filled the United Center.
Of course, it's not a true show without an encore, and—after an exhortation from the crowd that included the lights of a thousand cell phones—Michael actually had two, ending with 'Freedom '90.'
Michael's voice was definitely in good form, although he eschewed the high notes, letting the eager audience ( attempt to ) hit them instead.
Unlike a lot of pop-music performers, Michael did not have fancy backdrops; the relatively simple concept employed three screens behind him that showed vivid images of everything from burlesque to vintage music videos. Nor did he have a cadre of backup dancers, relying instead on a small group of talented backup singers and an impressive band.
Unlike a lot of pop-music performers, however, Michael didn't need the bells and whistles. He carried the show with charm and a fine voice.
E-mail Andrew Davis at Andrew@WindyCityMediaGroup.com .