- Title: SPAIN: George Michael kicks off his first tour in 15 years in Barcelona
- Date: 28th September 2006
- Summary: BACKSTAGE AT ARENASS
- Embargoed: 13th October 2006 13:00
- Location: Spain
- Country: Spain
- Topics: Entertainment,Travel / Tourism
- Reuters ID: LVABTDJUIQ7E68FWP3UP1M01P1K7
- Story Text: George Michael, who has caused as much controversy as he has won critical acclaim, kicked off his first tour in 15 years in Barcelona on Saturday (September 23) with a mixture of dance hits, ballads and some cheeky political commentary.
"He looks better, he feels better, he sings better than he has done in years," said his partner of 10 years, Kenny Gross before the concert. "The show is fantastic."
The 18,000 fans who packed into Barcelona's Palau Sant Jordi arena seemed to agree, screaming as Michael stepped out on stage and started to work through the hits that have made him one of the most enduring pop musicians, with 85 million record sales, a Grammy and seven British number one albums to his name.
Having sworn only last year that his pop days were over, Michael started a 47-gig tour called '25 Live', celebrating a quarter of a century in the music business.
"Ah how do I feel? Excited, very excited," he said when asked of how he felt about undertaking his first tour in more than a decade. "I just hope everybody enjoys it as much as I think they're going to we've put a lot of time and effort into it and I think people are going to be blown away - I hope so."
As for choosing Barcelona as the starting point for his tour, Michael said:
"You know, I know it's a great city and I know the people here are supposed to be really good fun - and I wanted to come while it was still warm."
The concert covered everything from Michael's well known hits from his days with the pop group 'Wham!' in the 1980's, to singles like 'Fastlove' and 'Jesus to a Child', to a new persona dealing with politics and sexuality.
Whistles filled the arena when it came to 'Shoot the Dog', whose cartoon video shows U.S. President George W. Bush in bed with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife.
Michael is no stranger to controversy, featuring in plenty of headlines for sex and drugs as well as for rock and roll.
He was arrested in 1998 for engaging in a 'lewd act' in a public toilet in Los Angeles, after which he ended years of speculation about his sexuality by announcing that he was gay. This year he was arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs.
A rough ride in the 1990s when his lover and mother died took him out of the spotlight for years, with only a couple of albums and the occasional appearance in charity concerts.
But all that is behind him for now with the European concerts, some of which sold out in just minutes.
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