Touring Australia with ‘Ladies & Gentlemen, the songs of George Michael’, former Australian Idol Anthony Callea’s celebration of the icon of pop is set to hit the road in September and will tour nationally.
Callea is charged with energy and enthusiasm despite recovering from a virus, and is off the back of a Melbourne show that sold out 2 months prior to opening. What started off as an admittedly fun, self indulgent idea, the show was inspired when Callea read about the 30 year anniversary since George Michael’s first single, so he decided to put ‘Ladies & Genlemen’ together. The initial success of the Melbourne show warranted a national tour and subsequently a CD/DVD release.
“George Michael’s music has been a part of my entire life (Callea is 31), and as a male singer he is faultless, I admire him and he’s been a huge musical influence on me, says Callea. I didn’t want to try and emulate him as such, or sound like him, but I’m putting my own stamp on his music whilst paying respect to the true essence of the songs”.
On the show’s stellar reception, Callea says that “our audience has consisted mostly of people who grew up with George Michael, and it’s been a beautiful thing to look out during a show and have them singing along to his songs- everyone knows every single lyric!”
There is an innocence & fun to 80’s music for those who lived through it, and it takes us back to certain points of life.
Callea states it was a time of great melodies and great lyrics, and it had a definitive sound. “And on the fashion front, well, that was exciting too so with that combination, it was an explosion of music and fashion during that era!”
Asked if he has a favourite song of George Michael’s, ‘One More Try’ and ‘Amazing’ come to mind for Callea from a singing point of view, but he has a soft spot for ballads like ‘Jesus to a Child’ and ‘Father Figure’, which he loves to hear George Michael sing. “I’ve also done a lot of research into where he was coming from and what his motivations were when writing these songs, to enable me to perform them with respect and in the spirit that they were intended.”
The 17 track CD/DVD comprises the hits you’d expect including the tracks mentioned above, along with duets with Casey Donovan and Anthony’s real-life partner Tim Campbell.
Anthony Callea has come a long way since his Australian idol experience and has toured with the likes of Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Diana Ross, Westlife, and was hand picked to perform for both Luciano Pavarotti and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He is also an ARIA award-winning artist among other industry accolades.
Despite this, Callea resists the temptation to allow success to obscure his reality. He takes his job seriously and loves it, but understands where it sits on the spectrum of life.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes during performances, and that’s the thing, at the end of the day we’re not doing anything in the caliber of curing cancer or something to that effect, we’re entertaining people, and we’re human after all”.
On his relationship with fellow entertainer Tim Campbell, he says that the fact they’re not competitive with one another is what makes it work. “It (our respective careers) doesn’t really affect us, it actually works for us to a degree because it allows us to bounce ideas off each other- we do our own thing professionally but it’s great to spend time together and exchange ideas. It’s great though, to have that soundboard at home who has similar experiences.”
But showbiz, and in particular touring, can often require lengthy times away from home and is not for the feint hearted or easily lonely types.
Callea loves nothing more than unwinding from it all and spending time with partner Tim, just relaxing over dinner, a bottle of wine and just a decent chat.
“We both love to basically just ‘clock off’, and not let the work consume our whole life. We also understand that the whole ‘celeb’ thing is a part of what we do, and whilst we are grateful for it, we do it because we love performing. But yes, we love to have some time to be ourselves.”
Callea fondly recalls his experience on Australian Idol, and recently had Casey Donovan perform with him at the Melbourne show. They hadn’t shared the stage for 10 years together so it was the perfect opportunity to get her onstage with him.
“We got on like a house on fire during (Australian) Idol, and I couldn’t have thought of anyone else I wanted to have come and sing with me- she’s a beautiful person and we get along so well.”
If it wasn’t for Australian Idol, we may not have had the pleasure of Anthony Callea and his wonderful talent. Callea has worked hard to maintain his status, and his show that is soon to tour Australia, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, the songs of George Michael’ is something he is clearly proud of. He has taken on the enormous task of self-promoting and getting it ready to take to Australian audiences. “It’s an immense task, but I love that I’ve had control over it and been able to do it how I’ve wanted to,” he says.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the songs of George Michael’ will commence in Perth on September 19 and continue onto Adelaide on Sept 20.
Interviewed by Darren Hassan
LADIES & GENTLEMEN, THE SONGS OF GEORGE MICHAEL TOUR DATES
Friday September 19 PERTH Astor Theatre 08 9370 5888 www.showticketing.com.au
Saturday September 20 ADELAIDE Her Majesty’s 131 246 www.bass.net.au
Saturday September 27 BRISBANE Convention Centre 13 28 49 www.ticketek.com.au
Friday October 3 SYDNEY Enmore Theatre 13 28 49 www.ticketek.com.au
Saturday October 4 MELBOURNE The Palms At Crown 13 28 49 www.ticketek.com.au