Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's a Jacko fiasco!

Last night, I was sent out by my "proper" job to Earls Court, where I was to witness Michael Jackson's comeback performance at the World Music Awards.

Now, award ceremonies are never as glamorous as they look on telly, but last night really took the biscuit. Host Lindsay Lohan was having trouble reading, guests admitted they hadn't bothered to learn their script, and stage hands wheeled instruments on and off stage seemingly at random.

Elle McPherson was under the impression that Kanye West was a group ("they're touring Australia with U2," she informed us) and on more than one occasion the hall went black for upwards of 20 minutes with no explanation.

The music, from Beyonce and Nelly Furtado among others, might have been brilliant, but I couldn't really tell - as Earl's Court has all the acoustic clarity of a toilet in a cathedral in an aircraft hangar placed in the Grand Canyon on national echo day.

But the audience didn't care about any of that. Last night really was a one-man show. Every pause in proceedings was greeted with chants of "Michael, Michael" and anyone who mentioned the former King Of Pop got a standing ovation.

So when Chris Brown (who he?) filled Jackson's shoes in the promised performance of Thriller, and the eccentric pop star simply turned up to pick up some pointless award, the atmosphere took a sudden turn for the worst.

"Michael Jackson can suck my dick and stick it up his nose. What a motherfucker," one fan said to me (not one of the quotes I was able to use in my official review). "We came here to see him perform and he didn't even stick out his leg," said another.

Poor old Rihanna, who took to the stage immediately after Jackson, was all but booed off. And, credit where credit's due, she rose above the crowd's reaction and turned in a stunning performance of Unfaithful. If it was me, I'd have run away in floods of girly tears.

And then - what's this?! A choir of children took to the stage... That could only mean MJ was going to perform after all! But, alas and alack, no. He came out and shook people's hands while the kids mimed along to a backing track of We Are The World. He eventually tried his hand at a couple of lines from the song, but he sounded as flaky as a Cadbury's flake and missed all the high notes.

It was an utter, utter shambles. What had been a massive tide of goodwill towards Jacko - from both his fans and the press - instantly turned into tsunami of bad PR.

Some fan sites quite rightly point out that Jackson doesn't have a manager or production company behind him at the moment to orchestrate a show-stopping performance. But that doesn't explain why the pop star led fans to believe he would be doing a routine.

The Times reports he got stage fright. But quite frankly, I don't care. The man needs a good slap and, more importantly, a manager like Frank DiLeo who can force him to honour his commitments (fans of Jackson's court cases will be aware this isn't the first time he's pulled out of a concert at the last minute).

Sad, sad, sad.

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