Like Michael Jackson’s life, his tribute concert came with just as much controversy. Fans across the world had shunned the show saying its’ timing with the trial of Dr Murray was not appropriate, but as Neyo who opened the show with Billie Jean pointed out that this show was not about the trial, but about celebrating a musical genius.
I had travelled to Cardiff on the Saturday morning and as soon as I got on the train in Manchester I was pleased to see how many MJ fans had made the effort to travel for the show. Rumors of it being cancelled and poor ticket sales had circled for weeks, but the day before it was announced that all standing tickets had completely sold out. I was quite glad that there were other fans on the train as I was slightly concerned that all the train stations were signed in Welsh; I didn’t know if I would know where to get off!
I arrived in Cardiff which is one of the most beautiful cities I have visited in the UK, and with its friendly nation, I could see myself one day living here. I collected my ticket and walked a mile and a half to the guest house which was to be my accommodation for the night, only to be told that I had booked the room for the wrong year! I walked around Cardiff looking for somewhere to stay, but they were all sold out. I had visions of sleeping rough at the train station but thankfully a Travel Lodge had one room left, which was actually right in the city centre and had a view of the Millenium Stadium from my room where the concert was to be held that night.
On the way to the concert I passed dozens of bars all blasting out Jackson songs and dancers in the street impersonating his moves. As I was walking towards the stadium a huge black car with high security passed and inside I spied a perfect silhouette of Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine, who when I flashed her my t-shirt gave me a wave!
I arrived at the stadium, which suddenly seemed very dark upon entry, when I realized they had pulled the roof over it to keep out the poor weather that had been predicted for that evening. The stage was spectacular and the fans had already been gathering for hours for the best spots.
I grabbed a beer and that’s when I bumped into Navi, the world’s most famous MJ impersonator who had crowds around him; he was nearly as a popular as the man himself! Before the concert began I met some lovely people from Birmingham and Africa and together we celebrated the music and the legacy of our hero, Michael Jackson!
After Neyo’s entrance to the show, JLS came on with the Jackson brothers to sing a collection of Jackson 5 hits. Smokey Robinson and Gladys Knight sang a collection of MJ songs both as soloists and as a duet and brought the Motown Michael to the stage. Christina, Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke were also fantastic acts, but it was the unknown Yolandis Adams who stole the show. When Yolandis came to the stage, people were questioning who she was, but by the end of her rendition of Earth Song, she had the biggest applaud of the night.
Michael Jackson’s children came out to talk to the fans. Paris and Prince were really getting into the night, but I think Blanket is still a little young to appreciate who his father was as he looked less than impressed to be there. They introduced Beyonce who did a video link performance from the USA, but to be honest I’m not too sure whey they bothered, it wouldn’t be impressive unless she was performing at the stadium itself.
The show went on for over four hours and hadn’t even covered half of Michael’s most famous hits, which shows how many hits he really had. The night finished with everyone coming on stage together to sing ‘Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough’.
Everyone left the concert singing the songs of our hero back into the city centre. We dispersed and I returned to the Travel Lodge where I heard local clubs and bars playing Michael Jackson songs late into the night. There are rumours that the Jackson family plan to do an annual tribute concert, which I will certainly be doing… especially if its in Cardiff as I have a room booked there for next year!
The best part of the evening was being in a city full of people with the same love for music, it was wonderful to see how many different generations of fans were there, especially the young children who were not even around in Michael's most successful of years. It proves that Michael's music, like the same of his concert, will live on forever.