Review by Caroline Hanks-Farmer
Georgios Panayiotou or rather George Michael, whom we all better know him as, was a singer songwriter who came to fame in the mid 1980’s. He formed part of the successful hit churning duo, along with best school pal Andrew Ridgeley, Wham! Taken from this world all to soon, he leaves behind a legacy of pop music which others revere.
Hit songs such as Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, Careless Whisper, Faith, Club Tropicana and Freedom all made a generation smile and fall hopelessly in love with the man who become an icon. Can anyone do his legacy justice, was my thought on accepting an invitation to review George which celebrates the songs and music of George Michael.
Ok I’m going to be completely honest I was a little sceptical? I grew up in the 1980’s, and whilst my true allegiances at that time actually fell with another George, my respect and appreciation for the music of Wham! and then George’s solo career was massive. My concern was the vocals, and having had a bad experience with a George Michael tribute act, (the gentleman removed his wig as he left the stage and came out of character – needless to say it scarred me!), the look is also important.
Let me tell you this, and be very clear about it, Rob Lamberti is George Michael. Rob admits that he has been a fan since the age of 14 and it his obvious devotion, to getting every minutia of detail, absolutely correct is nothing short of phenomenal. Rob said to the audience that his 25 year journey had finally brought him to play the large venue of Hammersmith Apollo. Playing small clubs and events has finally paid off, and in my opinion it should have happened a long time ago.
From the outstanding vocals, with qualities that if you turned your head you could swear you were listening to the man himself, to the movement Rob has nailed it all, but it his undeniable respect for George that for me makes the whole evening complete.
The glorious Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Matthew Freeman, looked like they were enjoying the show as much as we were. Rob’s backing artistes and band all gave a performance to be proud of. I particularly liked the duets with Elle Cato and Shean Williams. David Baptiste, George’s original saxophone player was a joy to listen especially when taking the lead in the iconic Careless Whisper.
My favourite songs were the mini acoustic set, Faith which was the second song and had everyone on their feet, Careless Whisper, Freedom and the final song George’s favourite Somebody to Love. But really every tune, brought back memories and sheer admiration for the performer in front of us and the icon we have now lost. If you have an opportunity to catch Rob Lamberti in action do so, his performance is truly outstanding and a fitting tribute to the legend that was George Michael.