Whatever you think of Michael Jackson, there is no getting away from his ubiquitous canon of work – from the early 60s with his brothers in The Jackson Five right up until his untimely death at the age of 50 in 2009, Jackson was performing, creating and changing music.
Thriller Live is a phenomenal tribute to his back-catalogue. At the beginning of this new UK tour of the show, the performers start as they mean to go on, bounding onto the stage in an explosion of energy and exuberance and not stopping until the house lights go up over 2 hours later. With the five main vocalists (Kieran Alleyne, Britt Quentin, Trace Kennedey, Ina Seidon and Rory Taylor) wowing the audience with their amazing ability to capture the sound created by Jackson, I spent the entire night in awe. It’s impossible to pick anybody from the production out as being ‘my favourite’; their voices were captivating when singing solo but dovetailed perfectly when singing together.
I must admit, while I grew up when Michael Jackson was at his height of fame, I would never really have called myself a fan. I was just aware of his music and his life as told by the tabloids. Coming to this show I didn’t really know what to expect or whether I would really enjoy it. So, it’s safe to say I was more than pleasantly surprised when I emerged into the rainy Thursday night with a massive grin on my face and my hands vibrating from all the clapping.
Aside from the outstanding vocals, the choreography of the production is also awe-inspiring. When I’m watching any musical performance which involves so much physicality, I am always amazed at how the performers can do this night after night. But the synchronicity of complicated choreography in Thriller Live left me astounded. A lot of work and love has clearly gone into this production and the performers shine throughout, aided by the big screens and extravagant lighting. The band, led by Musical Director Andy Jeffcoat, are hidden behind one of the main big screens at the back of the stage, but the performers make sure we appreciated their talent by bringing out a couple of guitarists (Allan Salmon and Rob Minns) at key points during the show, and of course by introducing us to them at both the beginning and end of the show.
As the show came to its crescendo the big hits came thick and fast and the audience were on their feet, clapping and dancing in the limited space (some running down to the front for 'Billy Jean'). There was a party atmosphere even after the show had ended and the audience were spilling out onto the wet streets of Oxford. Thriller Live is a tonic; an uplifting celebration of music, talent and dance. I might have to start calling myself a Michael Jackson fan after this.