'Great to be alive' Michael is back

Salisbury Journal: George Michael has returned to the stage in Austria George Michael has returned to the stage in Austria

George Michael declared it was "great to be alive" as he made a triumphant return to the stage in Vienna after fighting for his life 10 months earlier.

The 49-year-old, who performed at the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony, resumed his previously postponed Symphonica tour in Austria, where he spent weeks in hospital battling pneumonia last November.

Thousands of fans packed the Stadthalle Wien as the singer, whose real name is Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, took to the stage in a purple suit and his trademark sunglasses.

The show - for which George donated 1,000 tickets to the medical staff, as a thank you gift for saving his life - is the first of a number of rescheduled dates around Europe, including Paris and UK cities like Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and London.

George paid a heartfelt tribute to the Austrian medical staff who brought him back from the brink of death.

"I'd like to take the opportunity to say that there are a number of people without whom none of us would be here tonight. This is one of the greatest honours of my life, to sing to the men and women who saved my life," he said, before singing his rendition of Nina Simone's Feeling Good - a request from one of the doctors.

Backed by the Czech National Symphony orchestra, he sang flawless and powerful covers of Rihanna's Russian Roulette and Sting's Roxanne, as well as his own songs including Father Figure, Waiting For That Day and Patience.

Before his final song, his new single White Light, he revealed: "One last treat for you all before we go. I think given the manner of men and women who did save my life, we could not go without singing this song. Let's hear it for the people who saved my life!"

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