A report of George Michael’s one-off concert at London’s Roundhouse for NHS nurses (I didn’t know that Ricky Gervais and David Walliams were nurses) is given in today’s Mirror newspaper.
Applicants for tickets needed to give their NHS registration number, and were then entered into a draw. Last night the 2,000 ticket winners thronged the Roundhouse, an unusually intimate venue for a singer of Michael’s commercial standing.
He’s putting something back, and that’s good,” said Debbie Twyman, 38, a midwife at Finchley hospital. “It’s nice that he’s recognising what we do,” agreed Annette Down, 36, a district nurse in Enfield. Both were Michael fans with fond memories of Wham! from their teenage years, and were looking forward to him playing such 80s hits as Last Christmas and Careless Whisper.
And he didn’t disappoint. Introduced by comedian Catherine Tate wearing a nurse’s uniform, the concert had the air of an enormous hen night. Michael has always had a largely female following – one reason it took him so long to disclose his homosexuality – and tonight neatly dovetailed both this and the socialist principles he espouses.
After the third song, his 1989 single Father Figure, Michael announced to the audience, which included comedians Ricky Gervais and David Walliams, as well as his boyfriend Kenny Goss: “Tonight is all about my mother. This room is full of heroes. Society calls what you do a vocation, and that means you don’t fucking get paid properly. This evening is me saying thank you to you.”
The 15-song set drew from all stages of Michael’s career, from Wham! to this year’s single An Easier Affair. Though 2006 has seen Michael run into controversy, being found asleep at the wheel of his car on two occasions and photographed apparently cruising for sex on Hampstead Heath, the current tour – his first for more than 10 years – has served to remind the world at large of his status as one of Britain’s most successful and best singers and songwriters.
Though Michael claimed to be bedevilled by a cold, at which one of the nurses threw a handkerchief on to the stage, the concert was raucously received, peaking with his 1984 Christmas hit Last Christmas, at which point fake snow fell on to the crowd. “Thank you for everything you do – some people appreciate it,” announced Michael afterwards. “Now if we can only get the government to do the same thing.”
“We get treated so badly sometimes that seeing people value you and thanking you is better than being paid,” said 21-year-old nurse Steven Ward, from St George’s Hospital, Tooting, afterwards. “Police community officers get paid £25,000 a year and the responsibility they have doesn’t come anywhere close to ours. I earn £22,000 a year, and that’s London weighting as well.”
Though George Michael hadn’t redressed the balance, he had at least given the nurses a Christmas present to remember.