Liverpool 18/03/07 by Pat Collier

'The Empire Strikes Back' as Michael hits town

Michaels concert at the Liverpool Empire heralded a new chapter into the legendry 'Mersey Beat'. It was literally 'One Night Only' but Michael just had Liverpool audiences wowed and left you wanting more than that one night.

The day started for the Lancashire Lasses with an early afternoon start to the streets of Liverpool, in what were cold and icy weather conditions. It may have been cold outside the car, but inside it we were getting into the tour spirit with Michael serenading us on the CD, and with constant Michael chatter, of the previous nights concert in Blackpool.

It was a cold and long wait for Michael at the stage door, made more pleasant by the friendly chattering from all there. Michael arrived and everyone waited patiently to see, chat, or have a photo or a CD signed, and despite the cold Michael obliged all. We managed to chat about the concert to him before he went in, and he seemed eager to hear how we felt about it, and what we thought of Hayley and his duet with her. After we all said it was awesome, he told us he had deliberately chosen something hard that would stretch Hayley, and that it paid off well. It was obvious he feels Hayley has loads of talent and will hopefully make it, from his comments.

The theatre lights dimmed at 8.00pm and then Michaels voice came over the PA system, saying 'Michael here' and introducing his support act Tara Blaise. I personally enjoyed listening to Tara, and Irish folky type singer, and found her to have a very pleasant sound. In some ways she reminded me of a younger Debbie Harry.

After the interval the lights dimmed, the orchestra who could be seen through a flimsy curtain, started to play the overture. The familiar sounds of One Night Only started, the curtain opened, and Michael walked out at the top of the stairs to deafening cheers and applause, wearing a dark pinstripe suit, dark shirt and dark tie. That was it, my stomach did the usual somersaults, and then everyone was up on their feet clapping and swaying along to the opening song...........this is where I say I am so glad that it is not literally one night only of seeing Michael on tour. I did wonder about this song opening the tour, how it would work, but I now say YES it was a good move from Michael it was brilliant.

Since You've Been Gone from Michael's new CD followed and saw Michael giving an excellent rendition of this old Rainbow song.

Michael then spoke of how he did an Anthony Newley tribute concert last year and said that he was going to perform a couple from that show, after telling us 'we thought it rough in Liverpool try Hackney' in a cockney accent. I'm Feeling Good was first to be sung, followed next by Do You Mind . It was before the latter that Michael invited us all to set the pace with finger clicking, and then gave a tremendous performance, encouraging the audience to participate with answers to the lyrics questions. 'If I said I love you do you mind' and then waiting for the NO's from the audience etc etc. Michael then teasingly commented he loved audience participation.

The Living Years another from his latest CD was next to be given the 'Ball treatment', and Michael performed it brilliant. I know this was popular with a lot of the audience but for personal reasons not a song I wanted to hear.

Michael told of his time away from home last year and how he felt 'homesick' for family and friends as an introduction to an emotionally sung Home , which then lead into a song from one of Michaels very early CD's A House Is Not A Home . This song was a blast from the past for Michael and I personally loved him bringing it back for the tour.

'Do you like musicals?' Michael asked the audience, was the lead up to the 'musicals' section of the show. What better song to open this section with than This Is The Moment , a very popular song now with fans. You could hear a pin drop as Michael performed this superb song and got the well deserved standing ovation. Before Michael sang High Flying Adored he told of how it was performed by a young man, hoping, jokingly we would associate him with that age.........he wishes dry.gifdry.gifAll I Ask Of You and Loving You were next to be sang to perfection. Michael then told us of 'how he was going up in the world', 'how he would soon be somebody to know'............this was the lead up to telling us; he would be performing shortly in Kismet with the English National Opera in London. He chose to sing two songs he said, which he would not be performing in Kismet, but proved to be two songs that were popular choices with the audience who gave rapturous applause to Stranger In Paradise and And This Is My Beloved .

As Michael then went to sit on his stool near the piano, he told us of how his own stool had been pinched when it had been left unattended outside the theatre that afternoon, much to the audience's amusement. The sitting on the stool was for what has become one of Michaels exceptional signature songs Empty Chairs and Empty Tables and was then followed by a very poignant Tell Me It's Not True ..........this being a song I have long waited to hear Michael perform live.

Michael performing the song The Show Must Go On has now become a firm favourite of fans and was well received by the his fans.

Just when you think Michael can't surprise you anymore he sang the Gnarls Barkley song Crazy and crazy he made you feel, it was terrific and was very popular with the audience, bringing clapping and cheering at the end.

We all know Michael enjoys 'telling a story' and had us laughing saying 'Gawd I sound like Max Bygraves.' He then went on to tell us of an impromptu sing song round the piano in the famous American bar in the Savoy Hotel in London (where you have to wear a tie.........Michael had one on, but said it was round his head), with Amy Whinehouse, Jamie Cullam, Jason Donavon, and more I cannot recall. After a while the 'French' head of staff, asked them to stop singing repeatedly, (all this he did in a pigeon French accent), now Michael commented you couldn't pay to have talent like that free there, much to the audiences amusement. He then went on to say he had told 'her indoors' that he would be home early from what was a lunchtime engagement, but of how it was late night when he returned home, much the worse for wear dry.gifNow Michael then told us of a sequence in his head that eventually went wrong (including some actions)......Pay the cab, key in the door, take off your clothes, get into bed. The more Michael told this he had everyone in stitches laughing until he said……… Pay the cab, take off your clothes, key in the door and there 'her indoors' was waiting for him…………..he just told her 'love you got to go bed'. He had to retrieve his clothes from outside next I say, "believe what you want of that." dry.gifMichael then said that next day 'her indoors' told him of a good song that he should maybe take notice of the lyrics............. introduction to Rehab did Michael perform this .........brilliantly!!

The very popular 'Party Time' started with Don't Stop Me Now , and we didn't stop him, we let Michael sing on with Dancing In The Dark and an amazing rendition of the Scissors Sisters hit Don't Feel Like Dancing , which saw Michael dancing around. This was sheer brilliance and a firm favourite of mine.

To rapturous applause Michael then left the stage, saying his farewells, but returned back for an encore to sing an amazing One Voice . Again he left stage, and after cheering and much clapping, Michael returned to sing 'his song', Love Changes Everything , but not before he invited the audience to join him in the singing of it, this seems to be the norm now with LCE . At this point I looked to the back of the theatre and the whole of the audience were on their feet singing and swaying along to Michaels last song of the evening.

Michael left up the stairs on the stage, but not before turning and blowing a kiss out to the audience and putting his hand on his heart.

Michael another super evening.

Thanks to Sue, Marie, Babs and Lynne for such excellent company at the Liverpool concert and day trip.


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