George Michael celebrates recovery at Vienna gig
Wednesday 05 September 2012
Chart star George Michael declared it was “great to be alive” as he made a triumphant return to the stage in Vienna after fighting for his life 10 months earlier.
The 49-year-old, who performed at the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony, resumed his previously postponed Symphonica tour in Austria, where he spent weeks in hospital battling pneumonia last November.
Thousands of fans packed the Stadthalle Wien last night as the singer, whose real name is Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, took to the stage in a purple suit and his trademark sunglasses.
The show - for which Michael has donated 1,000 tickets to the medical staff, as a thank you gift for saving his life - was the first of a number of rescheduled dates around Europe, including Paris and UK cities like Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and London.
Michael paid a heartfelt tribute to the Austrian medical staff who brought him back from the brink of death.
"This is one of the greatest honours of my life, to sing to the men and women who saved my life," he said, before performing a rendition of Nina Simone's Feeling Good - a request from one of the doctors.
"It seems the right time for a request," he added.
Backed by the Czech National Symphony orchestra, he sang flawless and powerful covers of Rihanna's Russian Roulette, Rufus Wainwright's Going To A Town, Simone's My Baby Just Cares For Me and Sting's Roxanne, as well as his own songs including Father Figure, Waiting For That Day, Cowboys And Angels and Patience.
Michael, who changed to a black suit during an interval, returned for two encores, which saw him performing a medley of his hits - Amazing, I'm Your Man and Freedom.
Before his final song, his new single White Light, he revealed: "One last treat for you all before we go. I think given the manner of men and women who did save my life, we could not go without singing this song. Let's hear it for the people who saved my life!"
Following another date in Vienna on September 6, Michael - who celebrated his 30-year career in music in June - will head to Paris for a charity gala concert and Amsterdam before returning to the UK.
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
- 5 Man hospitalised with pneumonia after downing eggnog at office Christmas party
Christmas Day TV guide 2014: What to watch from Strictly Come Dancing to the story of Frozen
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader