Michael Jackson’s three children ensured the “Michael Forever” Tribute Concert would be considered a success, at least by the 40,000 people who turned up in Cardiff, Wales, to attend the event last night. But the image of them up on stage will trouble me for some time.
The Michael Jackson Tribute Concert had been rocked by more controversy and problems than music from its inception, with even the Jackson family arguing over whether it should go ahead at all. The event was thought up by Jackson brothers Marlon, Tito and Jackie, sister La Toya and mother Katherine but siblings Jermaine, Randy and Janet were opposed to its timing and did not appear.
But last night, the Michael Forever concert seemed to end the matter on a high note, largely due to Prince Michael (14), Paris (13) and Blanket Jackson (9).
Their presence on stage really lifted the atmosphere, which managed to attracted a few stars, despite several performers pulling out, some at the last moment, due to visa problems. The concert also failed miserably to sell out the 75,000 capacity stadium.
Host Jamie Foxx was joined by Jackson brothers Marlon, Tito and Jackie on stage at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium for a triumphant rendition of Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, which ensured most of the crowd returned home happy. R&B star Ne-Yo kicked off the show with a cover of Jackson’s hit Billie Jean complete with dazzling white socks and a passable attempt at a Moonwalk. Global megastar Beyonce sent her own tribute, performing I Wanna Be Where You Are from the US.
They had earlier been rocked by headline acts such as pop diva Christina Aguilera, Motown legend Smokey Robinson, British boy-band JLS and Gladys Knight.
Michael Jackson’s sister La Toya afterwards said that Michael was enjoying the show “having all these wonderful artists coming together shows the children how special their father was.”
For me, that was an uncomfortable moment. To his children, Michael Jackson was surely much more than a pop legend and poor Blanket looked like he wanted to be anywhere else but up on stage.
The three children wore outfits inspired by different periods of their father’s career. The youngest of Michael Jackson’s children looked distinctly overawed by the massive occasion and really who can blame him? Have we not been told so recently that in Michael Jackson’s own words, he did not have a childhood? Was he not haunted for the rest of his life, way into adulthood, by the pressure to perform and put on a public face?
Some fans and members of the Jackson family had questioned the timing of the concert with the trial of Conrad Murray, the doctor accused of Michael Jackson’s involuntary manslaughter, ongoing in Los Angeles. I question the way his children were paraded in front of all albeit adoring crowd, even if, on the face of it, they wanted to appear.