On July 29th, 1984, my brother, my friend Keith and I took our three dates to the Meadowlands in New Jersey to see Michael Jackson and his brothers in their Victory Tour concert. I don't remember too much about the day except for a few things: My date was Laura and she looked great (It was my first concert and the first real date of my life), tickets were $28, which seemed like a fortune, and the concert was spectacular. The stage was huge, the presentation was amazing and Michael brought down the house when he did Billie Jean.
Fast-forward to last week and 28 years later I am taking my 9-year old son to Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL WORLD TOUR Cirque du Soleil show.
If you are a fan of M.J's, I can't recommend this show highly enough. The combination of the music, the acrobatics, the dancing and the atmosphere were off the charts. I had the good fortune of meeting Michael Phillips, one of the band members, the day before I went to the show. He explained to me that they extracted the master record of Michael's voice for all the songs, but the rest of the music is performed live, giving the performance a real concert-like feel. Some of the highlights were:
Desiree Bassett is a 19-year old guitar player who absolutely shreds every song she plays.
(here she is playing with Sammy Hagar as a 15-year old http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sb3v1DD5ki0)
She nailed Beat It and Black and White in a way that would have made both Eddie Van Halen and Slash proud.
There is a young man with only one leg in the show. He dances around on his crutches, using them as props. There is also woman dancer who bends her body around like she is Gumby. Both performers bring the house down with their efforts. You can see some of their abilities in this clip form Dancing with the Stars. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOUc-6V0iAg
There is a moment when a video of a young Michael singing I'll Be There plays on the big screen. Nothing but the keyboard player accompanies. Our audience ended up singing along for the entire song. It was genuinely stirring.
Only a handful of M.J's songs are played in their entirety, as most are put into montages, but the dance routines are true to the videos and the spirit of Michael drives the show. The show tends to lean toward the "make the world a better place" mantra that Michael was known for, but there is plenty of the King of Pop's best work represented, from Thriller to Billie Jean and the classic Jackson 5 stuff.
As a long-time fan of Jackson's, it was a really enjoyable evening and for my son, it was the closest he'll ever get to a Michael Jackson concert.
That, in and of itself, was a Victory.