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Having lugged a large orchestra around the world touring his “Symphonica” project, George Michael has now turned it into a semi-live album, splicing together concert recordings with studio rearrangements.

Cheers and applause erupt from the audience throughout the songs, as though to comfort Michael on those uncertain days (we all have them) when he wonders if it was really wise to reinvent himself as an easy-listening crooner.

Opening track “Through”, from his last solo album, 2004’s Patience, is definitely worth the applause, Michael’s smooth voice the perfect vehicle for ambivalently lush musings about the “cheap gilded cage” of fame; but much of the rest has the feel of a rich man’s folly, the orchestra burbling away in an expensively inconsequential fashion as the singer imagines himself in a luxury karaoke bar, delivering the line “I liked the way his music sounded before”, from a chintzy cover of Elton John’s “Idol”, with no discernible irony.

George Michael


(Virgin EMI)

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