REVIEW: Michael Jackson tribute Thriller Live is anything but BAD at the Bristol Hippodrome
THE King of Pop may have died four years ago but Michael Jackson’s legacy is living on. And this week is Bristol’s turn to remember the legendary singer, dancer and songwriter with moonwalking, hip-thrusting and crotch-grabbing aplenty in a two-hour showcase of his best work.
Thriller Live was first created in 2005, a reincarnation of The Annual Michael Jackson Celebration, for the legions of loyal fans across the globe who would follow the world’s biggest superstar wherever he went.
Now a posthumous tribute to the great man, whose career spanned five decades and included countless awards for pop, rock and soul, the most successful album of all time and 13 US number one singles, the show is an unapologetic homage to everything everyone ever loved about MJ.
Jam-packed with boogie hits from his days with the Jackson Five in the seventies right up to some of Michael’s last releases laden with messages of peace, Thriller Live acts as a fun-fuelled danceathon through a remarkable career.
Four very different singers lead us through the ages, starting with energetic performances of motown classics I Want You Back and ABC supported by a young, talented dance troupe and including a gorgeous rendition of the beautiful love song I’ll Be There by established solo artist Tyrone Lee and Cleo Higgins, former lead singer of 1990s R&B girl band Cleopatra.
The disco era reigns supreme with more bling and glittery costumes than you would find in the Tower of London for Blame it on the Boogie and Shake Your Body Now before the show turns to Michael’s solo career, kicked off with Dangerous and a haunting, slightly melodramatic version of the tragic She’s Out of My Life by rock singer Jessie Smith.
Rock With You, Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough and Can You Feel It make for an enjoyable end to the first half but the anticipation is tangible after the interval as the audience, many donning one white glove, Fedoras and the infamous red and black Thriller jacket, know full well the best is yet to come.
A trendy and streetwise version of Beat It had Monday night’s crowd, now barely able to contain its excitement for the biggest of Michael’s hits, on the edge of their seats only to be brought back down again with the heartwarming I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.
Teasing complete, the raucous applause, hollering and whooping for lead dancer and Michael impersonator Sean Christopher who makes his entrance dressed head to toe in white for the dance classic Smooth Criminal was some of the loudest I have ever heard in the Hippodrome. Christopher could do wrong with his slick kicks and complicated hand flicks and at the sight of that infamous, gravity-defying lean, many were on their feet ready to party the night away.
And with Dirty Diana, Man in the Mirror and They Don’t Care About Us, things were only just getting started before a rousing company performance of Heal the World.
Christopher’s impeccable replication of Billie Jean delighted the crowds before the moment many had been waiting for arrived, a full rendition of the ultimate classic Thriller and a faultless display of one of the most commonly-recreated dances of all time.
A live band behind the simple but sleek set more than did justice to the incredible and varied musical abilities of Michael Jackson and the dynamic group of dancers brought back to life songs which proved the soundtrack to many a childhood.
But it was the singers who really made the show. In particular, Cleo Higgins whose vocals were as at home in big power numbers as they were in the tender, intimate love songs.
An unrestrained finale featuring Bad, Black or White and reprises of Smooth Criminal and Thriller raised the roof on an ecstatic if rather sweaty theatre packed to the rafters of people reliving the music of a legend.
Thriller Live is on at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, October 5.
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