“Last Christmas” is not one George Michael fans will remember for the right reasons, but this year to save them from tears, the all-star tribute act Freedom gave those who packed the House Of Blues something special. Led by Jayden Frost, who previously logged time on tour fronting When In Rome (“The Promise”) and more recently embarked on a solo career where he collaborated with Ian Eskelin (All Star United) and Christopher Anthon (ex-Information Society), the Dallas-based band is the first of its kind in all of America to tip its hat to the late superstar and former Wham! front man.
Frost and Freedom kept the hits coming, building up to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “Careless Whisper,” and of course, “Last Christmas,” accompanied by an indoor snowfall and the positive memory of a pioneering pop artist who never goes out of style no matter the season.
Along with keyboardist/musical director Dave Schultz (a previous Goo Goo Dolls player turned current member of Berlin) and a stamp of approval from Wham! bassist/frequent Michael collaborator Deon Estus (who sometimes tours, but didn’t make this particular trip), Freedom seeks to cover the most sacred ground from the group’s blockbuster “Make It Big” through the beloved individual offering “Older.” And for nearly two hours in front of a crowd who sung on nearly all the songs, that’s exactly what the seasoned musicians accomplished, starting with the chill-inducing chimes of “Father Figure.”
Through Frost mentioned he was having inaudible technical problems, the man who’s logged road time alongside Devo, The Psychedelic Furs, Debbie Gibson and many more from the decade of decadence sounded right on track with his smooth and soulful delivery throughout the follow-ups “Everything She Wants,” “Freedom 90” and “Praying For Time.” Though he didn’t directly impersonate or speak like Michael, despite baring some resemblance, he did indeed break out a leather jacket, guitar and some serious dance moves during “Faith.”
Considering Wham! last came to town in 1985 (at the long gone Poplar Creek), Freedom’s performance of the following year’s “The Edge Of Heaven” may have very well been the only time the tune was ever played in Chicago and the same could likely be said about the solo rarity “Fantasy.” But Frost and company kept the hits coming, building up to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “Careless Whisper,” and of course, “Last Christmas,” accompanied by an indoor snowfall and the positive memory of a pioneering pop artist who never goes out of style no matter the season.
For additional information on Freedom, visit Facebook.com/FreedomGeorgeMichael.
For a list of upcoming shows at House Of Blues, visit HouseOfBlues.com/Chicago.