Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Concert Review from 1984: A Jackson's Victory

As many mourn today, I thought I would contribute to the energy of remembering and sharing. As a good friend so aptly expressed, "Sometimes flawed people give the world great gifts."

To follow is a concert review I wrote in October 1984 in the Chelmsford High School newsmagazine, The Voice. I was 16 years old.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Chriss Bliss!!!"

Chriss Bliss?? Who is he? I thought I was at the Jackson's Victory Concert.

The lights dimmed in the R.F.K. stadium in Washington, D.C. The audience was clapping but not exactly knowing for whom. The spotlight shone on the stage and heeree's... no, not Johnny. It is Chriss Bliss -- a juggler. I'm not kidding. There was a juggling act as a lead-in for the Jacksons.

Generally speaking, I don't get too aroused by watching someone throw oranges around, so I took the opportunity to observe the crowd and the many people in it.

It was very crowded but not anywhere near the mob-scene I was expecting. One great surprise to me was that at least one quarter of the spectators were under 15 years of age. When I studied the common attire of most of the "fans," and compared it to that of my own, I felt like such an earthling. Not that I have anything against spaced out leather jackets and paint by number leather and gold pants, but, as the Romans would say, "there is a limit in things." I also noticed the numerous people wearing the infamous, single, silver ski glove.

The house lights came on again. Is that it? Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your opinion of Michael Jackson) the Jackson's are yet to come. After waiting an additional hour in the midst of popcorn sellers, Pepsi vendors, and the technical flurry...the lights dimmed once more.

Suddenly I heard a loud voice say, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Jacksons and Pepsi present to you... the Torture video!"

At that time, I noticed a huge screen hovering over the stage. After a terrific light show consisting of colorful lasers and a wall of spotlights that could give a blind person sight again, the Torture video was shown. Again, more lights and more lasers...and the moment you have all been waiting for, the actual concert!

Well, at least that is what I thought. The music started, but it wasn't the Jacksons. It was the theme song from "The Dark Crystal." Then...huge, ugly, glowing monsters came out onto the stage as a narrator did a small tidbit on the Disney movie.

I was just trying to figure out why they were doing all of this when I heard the introduction to "Wanna' be Startin' Something." The crowd was screaming wildly as Tito, Randy, Jermaine, Marlon, Jackie and especially Michael started their captivating session. While a little rough at first, by the end of the song, everyone was really getting psyched. Michael did practically all of his songs from the "Thriller" album, excluding "Thriller" itself. It was said by some that he thought twice about the song and decided that as a Jehovah's Witness, it went against his beliefs. Outside the stadium, there were many Jehovah's Witnesses holding a huge cross. They were passing out propaganda about Michael and the Jacksons' support for the Witnesses.

As the concert went on, I, who to be perfectly honest am not a huge fan of the Jacksons, found myself swept away and really feeling the energy which seemed to be affecting everyone so greatly. All of the spectators were clapping, dancing in the aisles and SCREAMING! Believe it or not, one of the songs which got the most reaction was not sung or written by Michael. It was Jermaine Jackson's, "Dynamite."

Everyone was literally "spazzing out!" Yes, I'll admit it, even I was finding it hard to stay in control.

Feet. For any other concert, this word would be meaningless (unless, of course Ozzy Osbourne was chewing on them.) But for Mikey Baby, his feet are just two more reasons why he is so successful. Naturally, by looking far at the stage, one couldn't even tell that he had feet, let alone be able to see what they were doing exactly. So again, that big screen was the main focus of attention. Michael Jackson moonwalked, twirled, twisted and danced until I felt like my feet were going to fall off just watching him! The Jacksons also did some spectacular synchronized breakdancing together.

I have to give the Jacksons, especially Michael, credit for giving their absolute all for the entire two hours. The energy level stayed constant throughout the concert. Towards the end of the concert, you could definitely see the strain on Michael's face -- it even looked like actual pain, but that didn't stop him. Finally, after he informed us that, "I'll be There," and told us to, "Scream, and Shout, Shake Your Body Down to the Ground," Michael said farewell. Actually, it was, "Farewell, My Summer Love."

As I have said, I never really went crazy over Michael, Tito, Jermaine, Randy, Marlon or Jackie, and I still don't want to marry any of them. However, after seeing them in the concert and feeling the intense energy that got everyone up and dancing, including me, I really understand and appreciate what people mean when they refer to the "Jackson Magic."
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