George Michael Feels the “Freedom” at First U.S. Tour Opener in 17 Years


George Michael began his first North American tour in 17 years on Tuesday at the San Diego Sports Arena, standing onstage just as we last saw him: stylishly unshaven, in black suit and shades, swaying his hips while singing to ecstatic fans (from 1996’s “Fastlove”), “Got to get up to get down!”

The show was heavy with anxious, funky riffs and smoove R&B pop, and without special effects beyond a trio of massive, curving video screens that unfolded across the stage like a tongue toward his crowd. They sparkled with cascading blue-and-red stars for the opening acoustic guitar riff and Michael wailing: “So here I am!” from “Waiting (Reprise).” For the next two hours (plus a 20-minute intermission), Michael performed hits and new songs from his just-released retrospective album, Twenty-Five.

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