George Michael made an emotional and introspective return to the stage on Monday, admitting mid-performance he’d split with long-term partner Kenny Goss and recalling his own troubled past with drugs.
The 48-year-old singer – appearing at the Prague State Opera House on the opening night of his “Symphonica” tour – told the audience: “Kenny and I haven’t been together for two and a half years … It’s time to be honest.”
The former Wham! singer had previously denied allegations he and Goss had separated.
“My love life has has been a lot more turbulent than I’ve let on,” he said, dedicating a new song, “Where I Hope You Are,” to Goss.
“This man has brought me a lot of joy and a lot of pain,” he said, his voice breaking up, referring to Goss’s alcohol addiction following the death of his parents as well as his own drug habit which landed him in jail last year.
The former Wham! star has scheduled 195 concerts across Europe. In a departure from his traditional style, he is being supported by a symphony orchestra as he sings some of his famous tracks in a more mellow, adapted fashion as well as a selection of covers from his favorite artists.
On Monday, he sang to a sell-out audience at the opulent opera house in Prague, combining tracks like “Kissing a Fool” and “It Really Doesn’t Matter” with “My Baby Just Cares For Me” and New Order’s “True Faith.”
He paid tribute to the late Amy Winehouse on Monday, calling her the only British artist to have left him in awe during his 30-year musical career.
“The thought that we won’t hear any more of her music is too sad for words,” he said before performing a version of Winehouse’s hit “Love is a Losing Game.”
He referred to his troubled past with cannabis, describing how he once passed out while talking on the phone with singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright while congratulating him on a new song.
“I was puffing and I passed out on the phone,” he said, acknowledging dread at the thought he might one day find out how the conversation ended.
In the tour program, he said he deserved to be jailed in 2010 for crashing his car into a photo shop in London. Police found him slumped over the steering wheel, high on drugs.
The singer was sentenced to eight weeks in jail. “I had a bill to pay and I thought that prison was a logical conclusion to a very long, dark chapter,” he said.
He said he wrote “the bones of four or five songs” within seven or eight days of leaving prison – a time when he felt “an incredible clarity.”
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