George Michael kicked off his UK comeback in Manchester last night (17NOV06) to rapturous applause and revealed he wished he'd returned "years ago". The pop star's set included solo material as well as a string of hits from his days with Wham! It's been 15 years since the singer's last UK tour but Michael insisted he now regrets the hiatus. Speaking before the concert he said, "To be perfectly honest, I've enjoyed it so much I wish I started again years ago." He added he hoped the gigs would provide an opportunity to put his recent, well-publicised troubles behind him - including a string of car smashes and accusations of 'cruising' notorious gay hangout Hampstead Heath in London. He said, "Most of the stuff that happens to me is partially my fault but some of it is definitely not. All that stuff is relevant to people who read 'red tops' (tabloid newspapers), as we call them. "I'm just very, very happy that I have a number one album out this week and that, along with coming back and playing to an English crowd for the first time in 15 years, is fantastic".