Thursday, June 25, 2009

What an extraordinary night... I have just seen the news flash saying that Michael Jackson has died of a suspected heart-attack.

Before the hysteria... before the furore about the scheduled O2 concerts... before the frantic re-writing of the final scene of the THRILLER stage show... before the tabloids switch from ridicule to head mourners...

I will commemorate him as I will always remember him... as the captivating centre of the Jackson 5ive. One of the first singles I bought for myself was ABC by the Jackson 5 which was also the first Tamla Motown record I bought. After that I bought the following album...and my heart was lost to Hitsville USA. I adored the Jackson 5 and still play them for the sheer infectious joy of their recordings. I parted company with Michael Jackson around "Thriller" - just as the madness started - and although there has been the occasional track since which has struck a chord (no pun intended) I have felt it to be a case of "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
By coincidence in two weeks time there is a 3-cd collection of his solo Motown albums being released called HELLO WORLD which might be worth investigating.

Ironically I had just returned home from Wembley Arena where I had seen the ONCE IN A LIFETIME - MOTOWN LEGENDS LIVE, a celebration to honour 50 years of Motown music.Needless to say there was a generational thing going on in the audience. We arrived as Junior Walker's All Stars were taking the stage - sadly Junior himself died in 1995 - and some of them had played with Junior in the 1980s. They were ok, made a good solid noise. Gerald Noel tried to fill Junior's shoes but there is a difference between a tenor sax player and a great tenor sax player.

After that it was the turn of The Miracles to take the stage. I should call them Bobby Rogers' The Miracles as he is the only original member left... you could spot him easily, he was the one with the walking stick and the chair! The four women in front of me were on their feet from the get-go... the only ones in the whole Arena so moved... so I didn't see a lot of them but again it was nice to see Bobby Rogers in person.

After that it was time for *me* to get to my feet to hail the arrival onstage of Miss Martha Reeves and sisters Lois and Delphine as her Vandellas. In a criminally short set of only 15 minutes Martha still managed to get the whole Arena on it's feet with "Heat Wave", "Jimmy Mack", "Nowhere To Run" and of course "Dancing In The Street". Owen and I saw them just before Christmas at the Bloomsbury Ballroom - right by the stage - and they tore it *up* - hopefully they will be back soon!

If the Diva geigercounter wasn't already wobbling it went off the scale with the appearance of Mary Wilson of The Supremes.

Mary reminded us that when she and The Supremes first arrived in London in 1965 they played the Motown Revue "ghost" tour - so called by the artists as they looked out on to half-empty houses! Happily the Arena was very full with just the back wall curtained off.

She was ultra-professional and looked Fierce - imagine a better-looking Tina Turner. She tore through songs and medleys and what a back catalogue - "Love Child", "Reflections", "Come See About Me", "Back In My Arms Again", My World Is Empty Without You", "You Keep Me Hanging On", "Someday We'll Be Together", "Stop! In The Name Of Love" and "Baby Love". I was a bit disappointed that we only got "Bad Weather" from the 1970s as that was the era I grew up knowing them from so no "Nathan Jones", "Floy Joy" or "Up The Ladder To The Roof" but it was great to see her on stage - the last time was with fellow-Supremes Jean Terrell and Cindy Birdsong in 1971!She also sang a fantastic version of "I Am Changing" from DREAMGIRLS and in the introduction to the song acknowledged the similarities between the storyline of the show and The Supremes and paid special tribute to Florence Ballard, saying that if she had lived she knew she would be up on the stage with her, which received warm applause. She also acknowledged that yes, she was 65 - which also earned her a huge round!

After that it was a toss-up between leaving on a high or staying to see two of the original Commodores. No brainer!Just in...

Madonna says:
"I can't stop crying over the sad news.

I have always admired Michael Jackson. The world has lost one of the greats, but his music will live on forever!

My heart goes out to his three children and other members of his family.

God bless."

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