The crowd screamed as he walked onto the stage. They leapt from their seats and a wave of exhilaration came across the hundreds of fans who wore merchandise with pride and snapped endless photos. This is Wham! but not as you know it…
You would think I’d be describing Wham! in its prime in the 1980s but no… this is Cheltenham Literature Festival 2019. I have never heard a crowd go quite so wild as when Andrew Ridgeley took to the sofa in The Times Forum at the festival.
Andrew, one half of pop duo Wham!, has broken the 30 silence with the release of his new book called Wham! George and Me. Andrew attended the festival to promote the book and also make a lot of fans very happy) and was expertly interviewed by journalist Sathnam Sanghera.
It has to be said this was a treat for the die hard fans and a very special one off experience. Not only did Andrew give an insight into Wham! and the George in the interview but the book (inclusive in ticket price) is the ultimate behind the scenes guide to the 80s legends.
Interestingly Andrew said he had not heard from any of George’s relatives at all regarding the book. Did I detect a small amount of bitterness here? This made me question the relationship between him and George’s family. Were they aware the book was being written? Are they happy with it? Had they been consulted?
Sathnam asked a wide range of questions and from Andrew’s answers it was clear that he felt anxious about speaking badly about George. He eventually admitted to finding George irritating and relaxing into complaining about his hair routine and out-there outfits. I couldn’t work out whether this initial resistance was fear of the audience turning on him if he spoke badly of George or if it was bitterness manifesting as reservedness.
Sathnam made him feel at ease and asked all the right questions which the audience were itching to know the answers to. He spoke of finding out about George being gay on the set of the Club Tropicana video: “The dots started joining up but it was an irrelevance.” He touched briefly and vaguely on their relationship saying: “Humour was one of the central pillars in our relationship. We had an intimacy that didn’t require analysis or a need to express it.” Another interesting point revealed was that he found George’s decision not to tour and to just do a single farewell show a “slight betrayal” to their loyal fanbase.
The last 20 minutes of the event was handed over from Sathnam’s capable hands into the mayhem that was the gushing, hysterical, fan-girling crowd. Everybody wanted to talk to him, so this led to a number of very questionable questions. It was a battle for microphones with people jumping up and shouting, one man even strutted out in a huff mouthing f*cking w*nker after he was denied the chance to ask a question. Generally, people just plugged their own books, gushed how big a fan they are and fell to pieces whilst attempting to string together a sentence. Not all, but most were like this. In my opinion leave the question asking to the professionals, especially when you’ve got a crowd like this…