George Michael, State Opera House, Prague
"I'm totally winging it," George Michael admits. Justifiably, the "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" singer has the "jitterbugs". It's been a turbulent couple of decades and this is an emotional, confessional gig.
There hasn't been a great deal of new material since his mid-90s peak, but there has been plenty of incident: the LA lavatory fiasco ("Zip Me Up Before You Go Go", as one tabloid put it); the car crash; the record-label wrangling; the drug taking (tonight he admits to passing out while talking on the phone to Rufus Wainwright, because he was "puffing" at the time); and the time served at Her Majesty's pleasure.
But, as the 48-year-old from north London once maintained, you gotta to have faith. And that faith is more than confirmed at this eventful start to his world tour, in which Michael is accompanied by a full symphony orchestra.
The former Wham! man has always been a captivating performer, unleashing his exquisite soul voice on his best body of work, 1990's Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, a superior pop album into which he dips tonight. He serves up a rare "Cowboys and Angels" and is suitably agonised on "Praying for Time". But, in the main, this is about Michael's crooning re-interpretations of other artists. Covering The Police's "Roxanne" is an error, but there are some smart covers too, including Terence Trent D'Arby's "Let Her Down Easy".
However, Michael's observations are too often laced with melancholy, loss and venom – "People like to make an exception for me," he claims. He looks most devastated before covering Amy Winehouse's "Love Is a Losing Game", informing us: "I'm in awe of this lady, the thought we won't be hearing her music anymore is so sad beyond words."
He's right, but come on, George, cheer up. It is a relief when we return to less awkward ground. "A Different Corner" is still an enduring, poignant pop record. And there is a giddy, thankfully jollier encore that includes "I'm Your Man" and "Freedom". Faith restored.
Arts & Ents blogs
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Fancy seeing a play about serial killers? How about inviting a funeral director into your home for a...
There are a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refl...
Liam Gallagher slams Daft Punk: 'I could have written Get Lucky in an hour'
Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
Archaeologists uncover nearly 5,000 cave paintings in Burgos, Mexico
Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
After 61 films, including The Hangover Part III, Heather Graham admits she still likes to boogie
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.