MY CONCERT EXPERIENCES

  

Dangerous


   Wembley

   I had never been to a Michael concert before so I was not too sure how it worked. First thing I did when I got to Wembley was spend a fortune on four T-shirts, King Of Pop baseball hat and a programme. I figured that the less I had to carry the better so I went back to the car park and dumped my goodies and changed into one of the T-shirts. Good move, I was left only with my binoculars to cope with. I am normally a non-pushy, polite person but I soon learned how to be rude. When I got in the stadium I was just in front of the big stand thing, and quite happy as I could see the whole stage and with my binoculars I could see the people wandering about on the stage very clearly. So I figured I had a good place to see Michael clearly.

   I don’t know why but suddenly everybody behind started standing up and moving forward, it was quite an experience being swept forward with no control over where I was or where I was going. But I saw other people leaning forward when the repositioning was taking place and I figured that if I did that I might get propelled forward further. By the time Kriss Kross came on I was about ten feet from the stage, by the time Rozala came on I was about five feet from the stage and by the time Michael exploded on to the stage I only had three people in front of me!!! I couldn’t get any nearer but every time there was movement I managed to head to the left and ended up with small people in front of me and could see everything very clearly and without needing my binoculars. I still used them a couple of times just to see Michael really close. When he was on his crane he stopped right over my head and if only I was a few feet taller I could have touched him. I was hoping he would fall off as be would have landed right on my head!!!

   I enjoyed all of it. So many things were happening my head was spinning. It is not easy to see all the explosions and other stuff and watch every move Michael made all at the same time. I was just far enough to the left to see Michael behind the screen during Smooth Criminal, it was fascinating how all his moves seemed to be elongated and exaggerated from him real to him as a shadow. (Does that make sense?) and I saw how Michael and the other dancers slipped their feet into the sort of ski boot type things when they leaned right over. I had wondered how that worked!

   I was a bit disappointed when Michael did a big spin near me and didn’t land straight, he seemed to be a bit disorientated as he landed but I figured maybe even Michael could occasionally get it wrong. Then when he did the second spin and keeled over and his people came running and picked him up just like a doll and he kept singing the chorus of Man In The Mirror over and over and over and they were wanting him to get into the space suit and he kept signalling them not yet. Then when he couldn’t get the zip up and he was struggling with it and I could see the expression on his face I was beginning to get really worried.

   When I got home at 5.30 am I told my mum I was worried and she said I was daft. Also, I didn’t like it when the crowd booed Prince Charles and chanted “Bruno, Bruno”, that was rude. Anyway, when Michael cancelled the next night and all the stories of doctors etc and his people saying he just had a virus and all that kept happening I was not a happy person.

   Poor Michael really has had a hard time on this tour, all that stuff in the Mirror and all the other bad press and having to cancel, then in Cardiff having it rain so hard he had to leave the stage because he was slipping and sliding in directions he hadn’t planned on going. It must have been hard for him to wait for 30 minutes while his people moped up all the water. It can’t have been easy to keep the momentum going and stay up high until he was able to go back and continue to give a mind blowing performance.

   I had a great time and enjoyed the Wembley show but I couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed. I had the impression that Michael was only running on half power. I have on video his Bad tour performances from Wembley, Japan, Barcelona and Gothenburg in full, also exerts from many other places. Having watched these videos many times I was expecting Dangerous to be even more spectacular and actually being in the audience and part of it I felt had to be much more thrilling than watching on TV. I was sad and more than a little deflated after Wembley. I thought maybe I was expecting too much – I had dreamed of going to a Michael concert for so long that to actually be there was turning fantasy into reality. It can so easily happen that something that has been longed for is a major anticlimax when it happens.

   Then Leeds happened!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

   Oh WOW!!! Michael as only Michael can be … electric, magical, sensational, stunning, the greatest showman ever! If I wasn’t already hopelessly in love with Michael before Leeds I certainly would have been after Leeds. Michael was just as wonderful as I had dreamed he would be and more so. I know how it worked by Leeds. I live about half and hour’s drive from Roundhay Park in Leeds where the concert was to be so I went over on Saturday to check it out. I met a charming security man who was very friendly and didn’t object to me going where I really should not have been. I took my cam-corder and recorded some footage of all the busy people getting things ready. A friend recorded me climbing up some scaffolding and waving and also recorded me wobbling and falling off ….. Ouch!

   The security man told me the sound check would be on Sunday morning and Michael would definitely not be there so I didn’t go back the next day. I set off mid-afternoon and on the way I passed a lay-by where all the trucks from the tour were parked and with them was an ambulance. A friend had told me that Michael often left concert venues in an ambulance as people never thought it would contain Michael and they got out of the way. I wonder if he did the same thing after this concert.

   I got to the park a bit before the gates were due to be opened and wandered to the front of the people to ask if the gates would be opened early as they had been in Wembley. As I was about to ask the gates opened and people behind me pushed me forwards – I wasn’t complaining – I was one of the first in and got very near to the front. This time the pushing was much more violent, I had a hard time staying up front. There were a load of little children right at the front guarded by enormous men who I think must have been Michael’s minders. I managed to get directly behind them and was able to see in between the huge men and over the children’s heads so had a fabulous view even though I was shifted left and right throughout the show as the crowd surged about. This time I had my camera and got some half way decent photos. I loved every second of the show right from Michael exploding onto the stage to the stuntman flying off. The music was louder, I could feel it, Michael was definitely running on full power and then some. He was stunning, all my dreams came true and Wembley faded away.


HIStory

   Amsterdam

   Oh, Michael! He’s back, he’s brilliant, he’s amazing, he’s the same old fantastic, adorable Michael I used to love so much years ago and have deeply mourned the loss of, but he’s also a whole new Michael.

   I deliberately didn’t read any concert reports before I went because I wanted to experience MY feelings and I didn’t want to be influenced by the obviously bad reports that the media would automatically spew out or the equally automatically glowing reports that the hard core fans would give. I read none of the many Internet reports and I’m not going to until I’ve written about how I felt about it. All I knew was that Michael arrived by spaceship and I couldn’t help looking at the heavenly pictures of him in the gold/silver, tight suit and watching him marching about on the MTV etc footage, but I tuned out to their opinions on the actual concert.

   The journey to Amsterdam was most enjoyable because Melanie and I met up with an old friend we hadn’t seen for a while and his friend. We didn’t know each other were going on the trip as we hadn’t spoken for some time so we renewed our acquaintance and we also made friends with new people.

   We had arranged to meet up with another fan who we’d never met before but spoken on the phone with and as we hadn’t had time to swap photos we described ourselves and hoped we’d manage to find each other. I’ve travelled on P&O Ferries before and as they’re massive I figured we would have to be very lucky to find each other. If I’d thought about it, I would have realised that no way would we be travelling P&O for the price we paid for the ticket and I was very pleasantly surprised to find that Seafrance, which was cheep and cheerful and so very much smaller, was friendly and cosy and as most of the people on board were Michael fans headed for the same concert it felt like a large “family outing” and I was happily chattering with total strangers who I felt I had known for years. We easily found our “phone friend” and the channel crossing passed far too quickly except that we were anxious to get to Michael.

   Seafrance didn’t know they were going to be invaded by Michael fans eagerly clutching their English money and frantic to get it changed into Gilders so they could buy everything in sight at the stadium, so they ran out of Guilders in five minutes flat. I was worried about this because many people had either sent me £10 notes and a big “please” to buy them programmes or had phoned and begged me to get them programmes and they would reimburse me immediately. When we got back on the coach, the driver announced that because of the problem he would change the scheduled stop to slightly later so he could pull in at a 24 hour Bank de Change situated by a food and freshen up complex near the Dutch boarder, so we could all get a snack and change our money at the same time.

   As the coach approached the Stadium I was amazed at how small it looked, this was deceptive as once inside it was enormous, though still smaller than Wembley. I was told it holds 43,000 and this is a nice number as it made it more intimate.

   Melanie and I sprinted towards the gates the instant we were given our tickets and once we had established our place in the queue we took it in turns to go to the loo, I was impressed by the toilet arrangements as there were sufficient for there to be only short queues and although they were constantly being used they didn’t smell. I was very disappointed by the merchandise, the T-shirts were mostly the same as ones available in HMV at half the price and I was told they had sold out of tour programmes but I might get lucky and find some inside.

   While waiting we made friends with two sisters who had seen Janet at Wembley but had never seen Michael and were very excited because they had loved Janet and had been told so often that Michael is even better that they were longing to see him. As the gates opened I was immediately flattened by two enormous men who seemed to be getting a big kick out of squeezing me as hard as possible and at one point I was unable to breath and I was beginning to panic and Melanie was trying to pull me away from them but she couldn’t, then a man who was on our coach and six foot five and of very large build kindly rescued me and he stood behind Melanie and me all the way until we got into the stadium, to protect us. I was so very grateful to him for doing this as those two who “got me” were obviously out to cause trouble, I saw them doing the same thing to someone else later on.

   We eventually got into the stadium and found that the tickets we had been issued were for the stands along the side of the stadium and not in the main area. After initially being disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to try to get to the front as we had always managed before we realised that in fact we were able to see the whole stage and we could clearly see all the movements of the people on stage clearing up and testing lights etc, so we figured we would be able to see all Michael’s moves without being squashed and I was still a little spooked from my experience outside so I was almost relieved that we were forced to be where we were and it was nice having a proper seat and we were amongst several people we knew which was also nice.

   When we were settled, I left Melanie looking after our seats while I went to look for programmes. I was lucky, I found a girl selling them but she only had three left and I told her I was wanting more so she said to wait there, I waited while she ran off and disappeared then reappeared with loads more. I was relieved that I was able to buy one for everybody who had asked me. Later I was told that these are only temporary programmes and as the tour really gets going properly the program is going to be very different so these should in time become a collectors item.

   I was cross with myself because we had always taken our binoculars before but never had a chance to use them properly because of being in the scrummage so we hadn’t taken them this time! After ooohing and aaaahing at the programmes Melanie decided she was going off for a wander, I gave her some money and told her to get anything, within reason, she wanted and not to be too long because I didn’t want to worry about her. She’s very sensible and far more responsible than me but I still worry about her. She wasn’t gone for very long and she returned with a pair of binoculars, I could have hugged her. She said they had loads more but she wasn’t sure if she should have got two pairs - I sent her off for another pair so we each had one.

   We then had fun looking through them at everybody and everything. I was positive I saw Tito in the VIP enclosure and somebody else near the stage that looked like Jermaine but I wasn’t sure about him, he turned out to be one of the backing singers but I swear it was Tito I saw because 3T were there, signing autographs. I was disappointed that 3T weren’t the support act but thinking about it, although it would be nice I don’t think it would work for them to support Michael. Anyway, the support act we got were crap, and that’s an understatement!

   At last I’ve got to the part you really want to know about!

   While we were waiting for it all to begin we had fun playing, we did numerous Mexican waves, we played clapping games initiated by two very raucous and exuberant youths, although I can’t understand German I can instantly recognise it as a language and they spoke sort of German gone wrong and Melanie says that Dutch is very like German so I reckon they must have been Dutch. There were paper aeroplanes flying about like confetti and the whole atmosphere was that of a giant party taking place. Shortly before the concert began they played songs and I was pleased that they were songs connected to Michael. There was “My Girl” and everybody screamed “Michael” instead of “My Girl”. Then a very special thing happened, all round me there was chatter in numerous different languages and as the first few notes of “Ben” played there was a moment of silence then everybody joined in singing in English with numerous different accents every word of “Ben”, by then the concert was about to begin so Michael was probably under the stage waiting so I hope he heard it because it was such a wonderful demonstration of how, through his music, he can unite numerous nations.

   The announcements started - “HIStory will begin in 30 minutes”, then 25 minutes later “HIStory will begin in 15 minutes" then 10 minutes later “HIStory will begin in 10 minutes” .... by now I was beginning to feel VERY excited. The lights went down and a massive screen at the back of the stage and two much smaller screens at the sides began showing graphics, it all happened so fast and the sound was so loud and the anticipation was mounting and I can’t remember exactly what I saw on the screens, I only remember seeing lots of colours and thinking of Captain Eo just before the space ship crashed.

   The music/noise kept getting louder and reaching a crescendo and I felt Michael was about to appear any second but he didn’t and the sound reached a new height of excitement, then another and another and as I was beginning to feel I couldn’t stand the anticipation any longer I heard a countdown and as it reached “ONE” the stage erupted and a spaceship hurtled through it. I knew the show began with Michael crashing onto the stage in a rocket but I hadn’t expected anything anywhere nearly as impressive as this and it took a while for me to recover. Then the door flew off and Michael was standing there and I was awestruck, I looked at Melanie and she was crying and I realised that I was too, she said that at the end of Dangerous Michael had, metaphorically, flown off in a spacesuit with a back pack and now he was back bigger and better and more impressive in a full size spaceship.

   There was a large gap between the doorway and the stage and I held my breath as Michael leaped across it and clattered onto the stage. The spaceship vanished and that was when I fully appreciated just how big the stage was. All the equipment was squashed at the back and the backup singers were squashed at the back so there was a massive expanse of bare stage - and Michael. Soldiers joined him and marched about during Scream and even with these the stage was spacious, clear, uncluttered and simple. The floor was a pale off-white/grey colour and different light patterns reflected most effectively and complimented Michael and his dance moves.

   My mind is still whirling from the experience and I keep remembering bits of the show but I can’t remember it second by second, just as a whole with many sections that were especially wonderful.

   My biggest impression was how clean and crisp his performance was, there were very few explosions and very little smoke which made them all the more effective when they did happen. Some songs slipped into another and others ended and Michael disappeared through a trap door, there was a short break then he reappeared through another trap door. He did a lot of disappearing and re-appearing. This was an extravaganza of Michael, with the other dancers/singers unobtrusively adding to his performance, nothing overshadowed him, he wasn’t part of a mass he was out front, he was there as Michael the singer, Michael the dancer and a new side of him emerged, we also got Michael the comedian. He is seriously funny.

   Although some of the songs were the “old songs”, they were all performed in a wonderful new way. My favourite had to be when the stage went dark as he disappeared down a trap door after singing a fantastic medley from Off The Wall, the empty stage lit up again and Michael, wearing black pants and a white T-shirt, strutted on carrying a suitcase, he plonked it down on a stool that seemed to appear from nowhere, it must have been there but I didn’t notice it, he unlatched the case and lifted the lid with such attitude I was giggling helplessly while also wondering what on earth he was leading up to. The instant he lifted out his “Billie Jean” jacket it hit me, then he put on the single glove, then he plonked the hat on his head and he was off whirling, twirling and “Billie Jeaning” like never before.

   God, that man is incredible. Every part of the show was better than the preceding part and it began with a mind blowing entrance!!!

   Stranger In Moscow was heart rendering, tears were running down my cheeks and I was sobbing as once again it was just Michael standing in the middle of the stage and singing with no distractions. I also sobbed during You Are Not Alone.

   Sandwiched between these two ballads was Smooth Criminal, again totally different. His white jacket had pinstripes on it and the long, thin sheet he danced behind was gone, instead he began dancing in the middle of the stage and then, again as if from nowhere, a large sheet appeared at the very front of the stage completely obliterating it and a giant silhouette of Michael materialised, then a few moments later two tiny silhouettes appeared on either side of him and again I was laughing.

   After Billie Jean came Thriller, again totally different. Simpler, crisper, neater - Michael dancing out front with a few dancers behind him just like in the video, then ghouls come in and chased him and he leaped onto a trapdoor which lowered so all we could see was Michael’s head sticking out of the stage as he sang and monsters tormented him .... again I was laughing my head off. He then disappeared and reappeared in his werewolf head and did some more dancing, then was forced into a contraption like an oyster shell with long protruding spikes, it was shut, then two other sides also shut and a flame burst out and the ghouls opened it and Michael appeared on the crane at the front of the stage.

   Until this moment the crane had looked like an ordinary catwalk and Michael had been down it, right into the audience, many times. As the crane rose he sang “Don’t you come around HERE”, not SHIT as he usually does, then the crane came back down and he leapt off and on a thump of the music he shrieked “BALLS” and I was laughing again. He had shortened all the old songs from the old concerts, it was almost as though he felt he had to include them but more in passing than as a feature and Beat It was very, very short.

   Up to Billie Jean he was wearing the gold pants, which left very little to the imagination and he was definitely enjoying himself throughout the show. It was so obvious that Michael was having as much fun as me and the rest of the audience as he “played with us”, his facial expressions were hilarious, he had such attitude and there were so many new moves he did and he kept giving us a special magic grin.

   During the Bad era he often was described as being an angry performer, this anger was back but intensified into a mixture of anger and other comical expressions I can’t describe because they were so uniquely Michael. Many times he put his face right up close to the camera in a playful manner and there were loads of close-ups of his face on the two screens at either side of the stage. These screens were far smaller than at previous concerts and they didn’t distort his body so he looked like an elongated stick. His makeup was a far more natural golden colour and his hair was the gorgeous, wet look, loose perm that I’ve always adored. It was lovely and long and obviously tied on and not a wig because it was all over the place but rarely covering his face.

   Michael’s always been a raunchy performer but there have been occasions when it’s appeared contrived or too corny but not any more, this was more sensual than I would have believed possible. It was as if the previous Michael was a little boy trying to act grown up and sexy but this was the all grown up real thing

   He repeatedly yelled “I love youuuuuuuuuuu!!!” and we all yelled back, “I love youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!”.

   There was a problem with the sound system so at the beginning of most of the songs Michael sounded as though he was singing after taking a whiff of helium gas but it was soon sorted out and he sounded normal again ... until the next song. There were also occasions when the microphone went completely dead but it wasn’t too noticeable because the audience filled in the missing words for him when this happened and he was grinning.

   He repeatedly came out to the front and sides of the stage and each side of the audience went wild when he did this and stood singing directly in front of the side screens. The Way You Make Me Feel was far more raunchy than in other concerts, and also hilarious, at one point when the girl strutted off to the side of the stage and Michael hid behind a wall and peeped round at her, he looked so funny everybody was shrieking with laughter.

   Black or White was similar but much shorter than before, then Michael ran towards the back of the stage and I thought I saw Bob Jones on stage chasing after him and I wondered why .... I soon found out. Bob Jones, if it was him, and another man leapt on Michael as he ran and as they did so the whole of the back of the stage came thundering down on top of them and all the other dancers who miraculously changed into refugees and cleared all the debris away until Michael reappeared in his Earth Song clothes. While Michael sang he went onto the crane and was lifted up and circled round as he hung off it. He was hanging even further off than ever before and I’m positive he must have some invisible string to attach him because he was hanging on by his fingernails and toenails and little else.

   When he came back down to earth a massive, I swear it was real, tank thundered onto the stage and as a soldier popped out of the top all the “refugees” cowered and shrank back, but not Michael, he stood his ground directly in front of the tank as it pointed it’s enormous bazooka type gun at him and the soldier climbed out and pointed his rifle at everybody who again cowered away then pointed it directly in Michael’s face and Michael never flinched, he just stared the soldier in the face as he slowly lifted his hand and moved the gun away from him. A small child then walked up and presented the soldier with a sunflower twice the size of the child, the soldier capitulated as Michael saved the world without any sign of the Jesus Christ thing that was so controversial at the Brits.

   Dangerous was performed the same way as at all the award shows etc but shorter and just as wonderful. Come Together was fantastic, forget how he did it in Moonwalker, this was a whole new shortened performance that subtly slipped into DS.

   When I heard that Michael had included DS I thought it a little strange, but I now know exactly why. He must have felt a great deal of satisfaction from hearing thousands and thousands of his fans all singing in unison “Tom Sneddon is a cold man”, repeatedly.

   Heal The World was the same but without the globe cluttering up the stage and the encore was wonderful but by now I knew the concert was drawing to a close and I wanted more. I would have been very happy for Michael to go backstage, have a few minutes rest, then do it all over again. I can’t wait for the bootlegs to arrive so I can enjoy it all again.

   HIStory was very effective with soldiers marching about waving flags and Michael singing but I’m sure that is a temporary ending until he releases the HIStory video and can include the video adaptation in the show without spoiling the effect the video has when he releases it. The concert didn’t really end, it simply faded away with Michael once again disappearing.

   I have now read many reports on the HIStory concerts, on the whole the British media, as usual, have rubbished Michael and his performances. These people cannot have actually seen a concert because what they describe is nothing like what I experienced in Amsterdam and I don’t believe that the concert I attended was the only one that was so wonderful and Michael wasn’t trying for all the others!

   Unfortunately, it’s the “fashionable thing” to knock Michael Jackson. Nobody shows any originality, the jokes and comments about him are all the same and usually made by people who have never seen him perform or met him. I haven’t met him so I’m not an authority but I have seen much of him on and off stage as he wanders about the globe and I’m convinced that the news people all get their reports from a single source {Reuters?} who for some reason feel it necessary to only tell the negative and unflattering aspects of Michael.

   This makes me so angry because I feel I want to put them straight and tell them to stop mis-quoting and wrongfully reporting but, again through inaccurate reporting, Michael’s fans have a reputation for being more than a little loopy, so I doubt if they would take any notice of me. Michael does attract some crazy fans but so do other artists and on the whole Michael’s fans are the most loyal and friendly people in the world.

   Sheffield

   Next I went to see Michael in Sheffield and he was fantastic. Sheffield was a smaller venue and I’m beginning to think I prefer this because it’s so much more intimate. Melanie and I went by coach because I wanted it to be more comfortable and easy. I had forgotten that Harrogate becomes a giant traffic jam for three days in July every year because of The Great Yorkshire Show. This is an agricultural show and we become inundated with farm vehicles, animals and every conceivable item even remotely connected to them.

   Instead of taking an hour, the journey took two and a half hours so Melanie and I were pretty fed up. We had decided that we would find some nice seats nearish to the front, and with our binoculars watch the show in comfort but as soon as we got on the coach, Melanie

   began “persuading” me that going in the scrummage and trying to push to the front was a good idea. I was worried that I might have to be carried out and spoil the concert for her so we came to the agreement that if I keeled over she would stay where she was while I was carried out and we’d meet back at the coach. When we eventually arrived the gates had already been open for an hour so we figured we would never get anywhere near the front, but as we entered we found there was a small scrummage at the very front but mostly people were sitting on the ground all scattered about so we simply climbed over legs and got almost to the first barrier pretty easily.

   There were two support acts, Grace was rubbish but Human Nature were OK. While Human Nature were on the crowds began pushing very hard and Melanie decided she was going to collapse! I told her that if she was pulled out she wouldn’t be put back at the front but she didn’t believe me and asked a security guard who told her she would be put back right at the back so she decided to hold on and not collapse. Then, before Michael had even hurtled through the stage in his spaceship Melanie decided she couldn’t stay upright any longer and told me to stay put and she would meet me at the coach afterwards, we argued a bit because I felt I should go with her but she insisted I remained. At the very last moment as I saw her being lifted over the barrier my motherly instincts kicked in and I went with her, muttering that I was going to throttle her, ground her, disinherit her and inflict numerous other things on her when we got home.

   While Melanie was in the first aid tent being mended I was still muttering my evil intentions for her to a security guard and asking how was the best way to get back to somewhere we could see some of the concert even if Michael was only a little dot in the distance. When I eventually drew breath from my ranting, the guard quietly asked if we would like to go in the very front special pit when my daughter was better! It took a few moments for what she had said to sink in and when it did I was jumping with excitement. I shot off to the first aid tent and informed Melanie that she was better NOW and no arguments. She thanked the nice young man who was sloshing water all over her and I dragged her off to the security guard who immediately tagged our arms then escorted us to the magic area at the very front.

   The rest of the evening was amazing. We could even see the whiskers sticking through Michael’s makeup on his chin without binoculars we were so close. The concert was amazing. I was disappointed that he left out “TWYMMF” but I loved “BOTDF” which he added. His facial expressions were wonderful, he was laughing and grinning and playing with the audience and I swear he looked directly at me and smiled several times. That’s one of the things that never ceases to amaze me about Michael - every one of the thousands and thousands of people in the stadium have the same feeling that Michael has looked directly at them and has sung directly to them. Michael has a special gift in his ability to personalise his performance in this way.