LONDON: British pop star George Michael announced Wednesday he was back on the straight and narrow and returning to the stage with an orchestra for a 47-date tour of Europe this year.
The former Wham! singer is to play his first dates since 2008 accompanied by the orchestra, performing re-arranged versions of his songs.
The 47-year-old said the tour was a good way to stay out of trouble following his drug abuse issues and a jail term he served in 2010.
“Symphonica - The Orchestral Tour” later this year takes in regular venues on the European arena circuit but also more classical settings such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Opera House in London.
“I've always wanted to sing with this kind of backing so I could really, really use my voice and not just concentrate on keeping thousands and thousands of people really excited for two and a half hours,” he told a press conference. “I've probably got one more of those tours in me but right now I'd like to do something slightly different.”
Michael also said he was planning to record a new album during breaks in the tour. “I felt very re-energised after my recent troubles, I felt it was really what I want to do,” the Londoner said.
The tour begins at the State Opera House in Prague on August 22.
Michael then swings through Denmark, Germany, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, France Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Britain, Ireland and Austria, ending with a show in Manchester on December 12.
The show has one more date at the Paris Opera on April 29 next year, which Michael said would probably kick off a second leg touring other parts of the world.
The singer - who first found fame in 1980s pop group Wham! and has gone on to sell more than 100 million records worldwide - has a long history with drugs and scrapes with the law.
“In terms of staying on the straight and narrow, then there's nothing better than work that you love,” Michael said.
“So I thought I should tour sooner rather than later, to keep that impetus, to keep driving me to take care of myself and to appreciate what I have.”He said the new album he was penning would be dance-themed and recorded with other gay artists.
Michael said that when he made mistakes, he was “letting young gay people down” due to the “homophobia that was thrown at me” and wanted to “defend gay children from some of that language” with this album.
“There are things about this next album where I am going to try and make up for some of the damage that I have inadvertently caused.”