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Saturday 16 December 2017

George Michael and Elton John no longer at war

George Michael performing on stage at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, in aid of the Elton John Aids Foundation
George Michael performing on stage at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, in aid of the Elton John Aids Foundation

Relations between George Michael and Elton John were once so bad that Michael told Elton to shut his mouth and stop interfering in his life.

But last night any acrimony between the two pop stars was clearly behind them when Michael took to the stage to perform a cover of an Elton John song - while the artist himself watched from the audience.

At a special gig by the former Wham! singer to raise money for Sir Elton's Aids Foundation, Michael told the star-studded audience he hoped the Idol singer was among them.

Introducing his cover of the song at the Royal Opera House in London, he said: "This next song was written by someone I hope has made it in here already - Elton.

"It's a song he wrote in the late 70s and it's about an ageing pop star. Funny that."

As Michael cast his gaze around the audience, Sir Elton waved from the stalls, where he sat beside his civil partner David Furnish and broadcaster Janet Street Porter.

Little Britain star David Walliams sat beside Ms Street Porter with his wife Lara Stone.

Other celebrities present at the black tie event - which formed part of Michael's 47-date Symphonica tour of Europe - included Kylie Minogue, former Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm, members of the band Scissor Sisters, comedian Michael McIntyre and actor James Corden.

Michael singled out Corden, with whom he performed a Comic Relief sketch this year in which the Gavin And Stacey star cried: "You're a joke, George. It's embarrassing."

The singer told the audience: "I don't know how many of you watched Comic Relief this year. The cheeky f***** who wrote that is here tonight - James, wherever you are.

"My manager read the script and said 'you can't have him say that.'

"I said 'that's the whole point. I want him to say that.'"

After coming on stage almost 40 minutes late - but to rapturous applause - Michael told fans the evening would be "quite special" for him as his mother had loved coming to the venue.

"It's truly special to play here," he said. "Probably not exactly my normal audience tonight but you're all absolutely there to be corrupted as far as I'm concerned."

Songs on the set list included a low-tempo version of New Order hit True Faith, a cover of Rufus Wainwright's Going to a Town and Let Her Down Easy by Terence Trent D'Arby.

Michael also performed some of his own numbers, including Cowboys and Angels and Through, which he opened with.

All were accompanied by the symphony orchestra that has provided the instrumental backdrop throughout the tour.

Proceeds from the concert will go to the Elizabeth Taylor Memorial Fund recently created by Sir Elton's Aids Foundation.

While Michael and Sir Elton were close in the 1980s and duetted on the 1991 hit Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, their friendship reportedly broke down as Michael's well-publicised drug problems grew.

Sir Elton's attempts to help were rebuffed.

But announcing last night's gig in June, Michael said: "The way that the Elton John Aids Foundation gets help to the people around the world who need it most - often the most marginalised communities - really spurred me on to do something."

And Sir Elton praised the concert as an "incredible and generous gesture" and said Michael was making a "fantastic gift" to people affected by HIV.

Tickets for the gig started at £25, with the most expensive seats costing £250.

Sir Elton's Aids Foundation has raised more than £80 million since its launch in 1992.

Hollywood star Taylor, who died this year, was another prominent campaigner against Aids and founded the American Foundation for Aids Research following the death of her close friend Rock Hudson in 1985.

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