A few years ago, I saw Michael Jackson in Las Vegas.
Or, well, I saw a Michael Jackson impersonator. It was a 20 minute set, and I sat far enough away where I could suspend disbelief and actually convince myself I was watching the real deal. Needless to say, it was the best concert I've ever been to.
This impersonator had everything nailed, especially the dance moves. Not to take away from MJ's voice, but it's his performance and stage presence that made his concerts so memorable. If he just stood there and sang, there'd be no need to see it, no need to get excited about his tour announcement; we'd all just continue to put on "The Way You Make Me Feel," and dance in front of the mirror until our Mom caught us trying to moonwalk. "No thanks, Mom. Dinner can wait. If you'll excuse me, I've got a choreographed knife fight to rehearse."
There's most likely no more universally mimicked performer. Every one in the world, and this is not an exaggeration, has tried to moonwalk. Everybody has grabbed their crotch and screamed.
And that's why we're lucky to have him back. We're getting the real deal. Sure he's a weirdo, sure he's still afraid of SARS. But he's the best. Not only at his own patented moves, but even at rock concert staples.
One of my favorite moves by a band's lead singer is what I call "the point." Usually, the frontman struts up to the front of the stage, seemingly saying "who wants some?" He then kicks his foot up on a speaker and points to multiple members of the crowd, answering his question: "You and you and you." Jacko does this better than anyone, and in the process, one-ups all the stereotypical rock stars who made this popular. He glides to the side of the stage (he only moves laterally), grabs his crotch and points to the sky. Who wants some? God. And maybe John Wayne. (John Wayne clearly being God's right hand man.)
You want proof that Michael Jackson is the best performer of all time? People regularly fainted at his concerts. In 1987, his arrival at the Bucharest airport caused so much hysteria that 18 people died. And they were just at home watching TV.
Ok, that last part's not true. But the fainting part is. When was the last time someone fainted at a Coldplay show? Never. Jacko was causing panic attacks left and right!
I watched some You Tube clips of this phenomenon. Anytime anyone passes out in the crowd, security is clearly ready to carry them off. It's part of the drill - their sole purpose is to carry off the dead. Sure, some people faint at rock shows, but it's most likely caused by something physical: drugs, mosh pits, etc. MJ could just walk backwards and people would go down.
The only modern day comparison is Obama. I heard a couple people fainted at his speeches. But he was clearly channeling Michael, with all of his rhetorical crotch grabs and sky points. That guy can't dance. The city of Bucharest is safe.
I probably won't make it to London for MJ's recently announced shows. But I'm excited at the notion that they exist. Albeit not the real thing, I may have to make a trip to Vegas to get my Jacko fix. And I'm gonna try my hardest to faint.
Maybe if he points at me.