The Big Tour

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The Big Tour
World tour by Wham!
Wham! The Big Tour 1984 UK programme cover.jpeg
Tour book cover
Location(15) United Kingdom, (7) Japan, (6) United States, (5) Australia, (2) China, (2) Hong Kong, (2) Ireland
Associated albumMake It Big
Start dateDecember 4, 1984 (1984-12-04)
End dateApril 10, 1985 (1985-04-10)
No. of shows39
Supporting act(s)Gary Crowley
Wham! concert chronology
Club Fantastic Tour
(1983)
The Big Tour
(1984-85)
Whamamerica!
(1985)

The Big Tour was the second concert tour by English musical duo Wham!, launched in support of their multi-platinum second studio album Make It Big with over six million units sold in the US alone.[1] The tour spanned 4 months between December 1984 and April 1985, comprising 39 shows across the UK, Ireland, Japan, Australia, United States, Hong Kong and China. Wham! made history in China by being the first Western pop act to visit the country.[2][3]

Overview[edit]

The Big Tour opened at Whitley Bay Ice Rink on 4 December. The venue was small due to no other venues being available in the north east, they were booked for two more shows between concerts in Glasgow, Dublin and Leeds. Just as the UK portion of the tour was in its stride, George Michael hurt his back during a performance and the band had to cancel five consecutive shows which were put back until February and March. They continued the UK leg with shows in Wembley Arena during the Christmas period to around 50,000 fans during which “Last Christmas” reached number two in the UK Singles Chart.[4]

Ticket for London’s Wembley Arena.

The new year began the tour in Japan performing in the Fukuoka Sunpalace with other dates in Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo and Yokohama. In Australia, five shows followed in Melbourne and Sydney before continuing in the United States, with a sellout concert at the Palladium in front of 4,400 in February 1985.[5] Wham! returned to the United Kingdom with earlier dates having been rescheduled.

Following a month break, the tour resumed in Hong Kong on 2 April 1985. The 10-day visit to China was the first by a Western pop group.[6] The excursion was a publicity scheme devised by Simon Napier-Bell (one of their two managers—Jazz Summers being the other). It began with a concert at the Peoples' Gymnasium in Beijing (then Peking) in front of 13,000 people. They also played a concert in front of 5,000 in Canton. The two concerts were played without compensation.[7] Wham!'s visit to China attracted huge media attention across the world. Napier-Bell later admitted that he used cunning tactics to sabotage the efforts of British rock band Queen to be the first to play in China: he made two brochures for the Chinese authorities – one featuring Wham! fans as pleasant middle-class youngsters, and one portraying Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury in typically flamboyant poses. The Chinese opted for Wham!.[8]

"The first feeling was of failure, there was no way we could communicate. And when we actually found out what had gone on [with people being told not to dance] I was just furious. Obviously, I felt responsibility at the time to represent my generation from the west in a good light and pop music in a good light."[9]

— George Michael reflecting on the China visit in 1986

Recordings[edit]

A documentary film was shot over two weeks in April and edited over summer and autumn 1985 in London. The whole China visit was documented by British film director Lindsay Anderson and producer Martin Lewis in their film Wham! in China: Foreign Skies released in 1986.[10] The first ever public viewing of Foreign Skies was shown on large video screens on Saturday 28 June 1986 at the farewell show "The Final".[11]

Support acts[edit]

Set list[edit]

Tour dates[edit]

Tour dates as printed in the official Big Tour 1984-85 tour programme.[13]

Date City Country Venue
Europe[14]
Tue 4 December 1984 Whitley Bay England Ice Rink
Wed 5 December 1984 Glasgow Scotland Apollo
Thur 6 December 1984
Sat 8 December 1984 Dublin Ireland R.D.S.
Sun 9 December 1984
Tue 11 December 1984 Whitley Bay England Ice Rink
Wed 12 December 1984
Fri 14 December 1984 Leeds Queens Hall
Sat 15 December 1984 Edinburgh Scotland Ingliston
Mon 17 December 1984 Bournemouth England International Centre
Tues 18 December 1984
Wed 19 December 1984 Birmingham N.E.C.
Thu 20 December 1984
Sun 23 December 1984 London Wembley Arena
Mon 24 December 1984
Wed 26 December 1984
Thu 27 December 1984
Asia[15]
Tue 8 January 1985 Fukuoka Japan Fukuoka Sunpalace
Thu 10 January 1985 Osaka Festival Hall
Fri 11 January 1985 Gymnasium
Sun 13 January 1985 Nagoya Civic Assembly Hall
Wed 16 January 1985 Tokyo Budokan
Thu 17 January 1985 Yokohama Gymnasium
Fri 18 January 1985 Tokyo Budokan
Oceania[16]
Tue 22 January 1985 Melbourne Australia Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Centre
Wed 23 January 1985
Thu 24 January 1985
Sat 26 January 1985 Sydney Sydney Entertainment Centre
Sun 27 January 1985
North America[17]
Mon 4 February 1985 Los Angeles United States Palladium
Tue 5 February 1985 Oakland, California Kaiser Convention Center
Thu 7 February 1985 Dallas Bronco Bowl
Wed 13 February 1985 Philadelphia Tower Theatre
Thu 14 February 1985 New York City Beacon Theatre
Sat 16 February 1985 Boston Orpheum Theatre
Europe[18]
Sat 23 February 1985 Edinburgh Scotland Ingliston Royal Highland
Tue 26 February 1985 Birmingham England N.E.C.
Wed 27 February 1985
Fri 1 March 1985 Bournemouth International Centre
Sat 2 March 1985
Asia[19]
Tue 2 April 1985 Hong Kong British Dependent Territory Coliseum
Wed 3 April 1985
Sun 7 April 1985 Beijing China Workers' Gymnasium
Thu 10 April 1985 Canton Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
Key
Date cancelled Denotes cancelled concert dates that were rescheduled

Box office score data[edit]

Venue City Attendance / Capacity Gross
Palladium Los Angeles 4,400 / sellout $57,402[20]
Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center Oakland, California 7,182 / sellout $97,032[21]
Bronco Bowl Dallas / $
The Tower Philadelphia 2,971 / sellout $36,565[22]
Beacon Theatre New York City / $
Orpheum Theatre Boston / $
Total ' / ' $

Personnel[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ American album certifications – Wham – Make It Big". - Recording Industry Association of America
  2. ^ Careless Whispers: The Life & Career of George Michael: Revised & Updated By Robert Steele
  3. ^ George Michael: The biography - By Rob Jovanovic
  4. ^ George Michael: The biography - By Rob Jovanovic
  5. ^ Boxscore Top concert grosses - (P. 46) | Bilboard February 16, 1985
  6. ^ McCarty, L. Y. (2010). "'Big in Japan': Orientalism in 1980s British Pop Music". The Mid-Atlantic Almanack. 19.
  7. ^ Neville, Sam (28 April 1985). "ROCK: East meets Wham!, and another great wall comes down". Chicago Tribune – via ProQuest.
  8. ^ "How Wham! brought the West to China". BBC News. 24 March 2005.
  9. ^ Rolling Stone - Singer reflects on childhood, Wham!'s tour of China and more in whimsically drawn interview from 1986
  10. ^ Wham! in China – Foreign Skies Movie Reviews Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 21 April 2011
  11. ^ How Wham! made Lindsay Anderson see red in China - By Paul Kelbie, Scotland Correspondent
  12. ^ Song set list from the Japanese Big tour programme
  13. ^ Wham! The Big Tour 1984-85 - Official programme dates.
  14. ^ Wham! CLUB FANTASTIC TOUR: - Tour Dates
  15. ^ Wham! The Big Tour - Tour Dates
  16. ^ Wham! The Big Tour - Tour Dates
  17. ^ Wham! The Big Tour - Tour Dates
  18. ^ Wham! The Big Tour - Tour Dates
  19. ^ Wham! The Big Tour - Tour Dates
  20. ^ Boxscore Top concert grosses - (P. 46) | Bilboard February 16, 1985
  21. ^ Boxscore Top concert grosses - (P. 42) | Bilboard February 23, 1985
  22. ^ Boxscore Top concert grosses - (P. 50) | Bilboard March 2, 1985
  23. ^ List of ‘Tour Personnel’ from tour programme