POP superstar George Michael is to play his first ever solo Newcastle gig this December.
It is 27 years since the chart-topping superstar played the region – that was opening Wham!’s 1984 UK tour at Whitley Bay Ice Rink in the first of three gigs there.
But the star has announced he will play Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on December 3, with tickets on general sale from Monday next week.
It will be a Symphonica Tour, where he will be backed by a full orchestra and perform mainly tracks from his albums more suited to that genre.
One of British music’s greatest singer-songwriters, George Michael will perform not only a carefully-chosen selection of his own songs, spanning all his remarkable near 30-year career, but he will cover some of his favourite songs from other artists.
The music will be re-worked and re-arranged for the orchestra which will accompany George at each location.
Symphonica will be both a new musical direction for George, fulfilling a long-cherished artistic ambition with many of the concerts taking place in specially selected venues.
Colin Revel, Metro Radio Arena executive director, said: “We are thrilled and excited that a musician of the stature of George Michael is coming to the Arena.
“This will indeed be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a music legend as never before and he is definitely only playing the one night, so when the tickets are gone, they are gone. We have worked long to secure this and I am sure he will put on a show to remember.”
The artist has to date sold more than 100 million records, topping the charts from Austria to Australia, and has sold-out stadiums from Tokyo to Tampa. His debut solo album, 1987’s Faith, is credited with transforming pop music.
As well as the music, there have been the much-publicised brushes with the law and his long-time court battle with Sony.
Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou to a Greek Cypriot father and a British mother, he grew up in suburban Hertfordshire.
At school he became best friends with Andrew Ridgeley, leading to the creation of Wham! in 1981.
In 1986, after nearly five years of dominating the charts, touring the world and being poster pin-up heartthrobs, Wham! decided to split.
George then went on to even bigger success as a soloist, with hits including Faith, Father Figure, A Different Corner and Too Funky.
The release of the album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990) was the start of his dispute with record label Sony.
He claimed the album’s poor sales were due to Sony’s poor marketing. In 1993, George entered a court case with Sony over his record contract, which cost him millions, and he eventually lost.
Over the years he has amassed numerous accolades including three Ivor Novello Awards, two Grammys and three Brits.
He most recently covered New Order’s True Faith for Comic Relief and released his version of the Stevie Wonder classic You and I, as a Royal Wedding gift.
George said: “I felt very re-energised after my recent troubles, I felt it was really what I want to do as an artist. As an artist, I think I have said before that I am really not interested or excited by repeating former successes.”