MJJSTREET Michael Jackson Ireland Fan Club

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
 

Author Topic: Cirque IMMORTAL London Reviews  (Read 3547 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline moonstreet

  • The Little Big Admin
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4056
  • Country: ie
  • Kudos 4
  • Hard Rockin, with Pink Glitter & Sparkles♥♥♥♥
    • Moonstreet, an online scrapbook, Michael & Me
Cirque IMMORTAL London Reviews
« on: October 16, 2012, 10:35:54 AM »
http://www.itn.co.uk/Entertainment/58603/michael-jackson-cirque-du-soleil-show-opens

Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show opens
Report by Sophie Foster
Sat 13 Oct 2012 14:31


U2 were among the star names attending the first UK performance of the Cirque du Soleil Michael Jackson tribute show at London's O2 Arena.

Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour, the only major tribute show approved by the late singer's estate, will have a short run at the venue which was to have been the London home of Jackson's doomed This is It tour.

Travis Payne, the choreographer for the production, said the star had been a huge Cirque du Soleil fan.

"I think in the aftermath of Michael's passing, anything that I can do personally to celebrate him, the artist that he was and the genius he was and all the great work that he gave us over the decades, is just an honour," he said.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2012, 11:00:13 AM by moonstreet »

Offline moonstreet

  • The Little Big Admin
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4056
  • Country: ie
  • Kudos 4
  • Hard Rockin, with Pink Glitter & Sparkles♥♥♥♥
    • Moonstreet, an online scrapbook, Michael & Me
Re: Cirque IMMORTAL Europe Reviews
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2012, 10:39:07 AM »
http://www.thestage.co.uk/columns/shenton/2012/10/michael-jackson-cirque-du-soleil/

Michael Jackson goes to the circus
By: Mark Shenton


There was always a media circus around Michael Jackson’s life, career and especially his early death, and now he’s been appropriated, unsurprisingly, by the biggest circus company in the world: Cirque du Soleil, who have already previously given the Cirque makeover to the repertoire of the Beatles and Elvis in two Las Vegas resident shows, Love and Viva Elvis respectively.

Cirque have brought their arena stage touring spectacular Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour, which opened last Friday in the O2 Arena, the same London venue where Jackson was supposed to stage his 50 performance farewell run. He died during the rehearsal process just three weeks before the first show was due to be given.

I guess if you can’t see the real thing, why not see a show that combines snatches of the real Jackson on multiple split-screens, in between snatches of his songs, with occasional bursts of gymnastic, acrobatic and aerial accompaniment that are Cirque’s usual trademarks. But Cirque’s dismal spectacle is neither one thing nor another, trapped in a void that is neither circus nor concert show but feels merely exploitative instead.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with the ambition to fashion a new type of entertainment; but if their Beatles Vegas show is one of the greatest I’ve ever seen, providing an exhilarating physical embodiment of those familiar songs, the Jackson show falls into a gap – and trap – of simply relying on the audience’s clear affection for the memory of the man to provide a kind of engorged, loud karaoke dance show.

That’s the kind of thing that West End and Broadway jukebox shows do all the time – the latest of which, Let It Be, is simply an accomplished tribute band going through the repertoire. We also already have a Jackson show in the West End, Thriller Live, which has become a kind of living memorial to him and is where the fans immediately migrated when he died to leave tributes.

Cirque’s Vegas Beatles show, in particular, shows how it could be done: a boldly imaginative and thrilling riff on the repertoire that took them, and us, to new places with every song. The Immortal World Tour, by contrast, simply brings us back to the same place every time: Jackson himself. But if that’s what fans want, they can already go to the Lyric Shaftesbury Avenue for half the price and double the impact.

Last week I saw one of the best rock/pop shows I’ve ever seen when I saw the start of the UK tour of American Idiot; now I’ve seen one one of the worst. No, not Rock of Ages, but Cirque du Soleil’s Immortal World Tour.

The effort in trying to arrange the tickets, by the way, was far in excess of the reward; for what is effectively the largest live entertainment operation in the world, they have a slightly weird attitude towards PR. The company has an in-house PR attached to each show, but multiple outside agencies are also appointed to handle different aspects of the media, and trying to find out who might look after you is an art in itself. I was referred on no less than four times in the end, before receiving an answer; it’s certainly an interesting spin on the usual PR process where they chase journalists, this has me chasing how to find whoever it is!

No doubt Cirque du Soleil don’t exactly need coverage for this show, so perhaps that’s part of the plan – to keep us away! And I bet they wish they had, in my case. As it is, I recognised precisely two people on the night: The Independent’s Arifa Akbar and the Guardian’s Lyn Gardner (who told me that she’d been approached to come in a highly unconventional way herself; she was sent an invite saying they’d noticed she’d reviewed a few theatre shows, so would she be interested in seeing this one?)

A clump of journos were seated in the same area – so I had a perfect view of the guy, two rows in front, who was writing his notes on his iPhone, thus causing it to light up and cause a glow throughout the evening. It’s usually the sort of thing that drives me to fury. But on this occasion, it was weirdly more interesting than the show happening on the other end of the arena; how a journalist can consider this acceptable practice is bizarre, to say the least.

But then perhaps, as Lyn Gardner suggested to me, he’s a rock music critic and such behaviour is entirely normal at gigs, where everyone has a phone in constant use to take pictures with. 

On Sunday I went to see Idina Menzel in concert at the West End’s Apollo Theatre, and an usher’s pre-show announcement from the front of the stalls was that photography was allowed, but no flashes, please, or filming. So different rules clearly apply at concerts these days.

Offline moonstreet

  • The Little Big Admin
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4056
  • Country: ie
  • Kudos 4
  • Hard Rockin, with Pink Glitter & Sparkles♥♥♥♥
    • Moonstreet, an online scrapbook, Michael & Me
Re: Cirque IMMORTAL Europe Reviews
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2012, 10:41:23 AM »
http://www.contactmusic.com/news/cirque-du-soleil-performance-falls-flat-michael-jackson-the-immortal-world-tour_3327273

Michael Jackson - Cirque Du Soleil Performance Falls Flat: Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour
15 October 2012


Cirque Du Soleil Performance Falls Flat: Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour

The Cirque Du Soleil have brought their ambitious Michael Jackson dance tribute to London’s O2 Arena.

All the signifiers for a unique and stellar performance are there: the classic, era-defining songs of the King of Pop, coupled with the choreography and jaw-dropping talents of one of the world’s most impressive dance troupes. So why are the reviews not looking so great?

Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour opened on Friday (October 12, 2012) at London’s O2 Arena but reviews for the performance have been less than congratulatory. Perhaps Jackson’s music doesn’t lend itself so well to Cirque Du Soleil’s trademark acrobatics, which appear to have been usurped in favour of “a series of Covent Garden-standard mimes, predictably lost in an arena.” The Evening Standard’s reviewer had a muted response to the show, evidently disappointed and remarked that “Tellingly, after two hours of the most danceable music imaginable, none of the crowd were out of their seats. Still, at least no children were involved.”

The Independent were also left wanting: “it never exploded into the magnificent monster of spectacle that it might have been… The venue was to blame, at least in part…to stage this blend of dance, theatre and acrobatics in the arena was the equivalent of throwing a bucket of cold water over any fireworks it was hoping to set off. Performers who might have worked wonders on the rotunda stage of the Royal Albert Hall – Cirque's usual home – looked like small, insubstantial figures. Even the immense screen could not dominate the space.” Jackson fans that had once hoped to see the King of Pop perform at the O2 will sadly not find this to be an adequate replacement.

Offline moonstreet

  • The Little Big Admin
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4056
  • Country: ie
  • Kudos 4
  • Hard Rockin, with Pink Glitter & Sparkles♥♥♥♥
    • Moonstreet, an online scrapbook, Michael & Me
Re: Cirque IMMORTAL Europe Reviews
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2012, 10:44:26 AM »
http://www.standard.co.uk/arts/music/michael-jackson-the-immortal-world-tour-o2-arena-se10--review-8211323.html

Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour, O2 Arena, SE10 - review
John Aizlewood 15 October 2012


After two hours of the most danceable music imaginable, none of the crowd were out of their seats

Michael Jackson never did play the O2 but his music will live for the foreseeable future, hence The Immortal World Tour, an appetite-whetting combination of one of pop’s great catalogues and the all-tumbling, all-trapezing troupe Cirque du Soleil.

In theory, it couldn’t fail; in practice it fell flat last night. Perhaps being blessed (and 50 per cent owned) by Jackson’s estate stymied Cirque du Soleil’s creativity but the Canadians had little idea what to do with their bounty of song.

The most baffling disappointment was the near-absence of Cirque du Soleil’s trademark spectacular acrobatics (during Can You Feel It, the sole, blink-and-you’ll miss-it occasion they went for big, bold moves, it was breathtaking) in favour of a series of Covent Garden-standard mimes, predictably lost in an arena. They gave up completely for I’ll Be There and an old Jackson video played above a vacant stage.

On the embarrassingly mawkish Childhood, it was implied that Jackson’s Neverland ranch was a delightful location for a children’s sleepover and when a Jackson hologram ascended heavenwards in Jesus Christ pose during Will You Be There, any North Korean propagandists who’d made their way to Greenwich would have chuckled at the leader-aggrandising absurdity.

Human Nature’s suspended dancers were beautiful and the stomping militarism of They Don’t Care About Us was inspired. Elsewhere, though, the wit-free, overly-literal choreography (Smooth Criminal starred a silky felon); lighting which provided only crepuscular murk and the idiocy of a cast member pretending to be Bubbles undermined music imaginatively assembled via samples, cut-ups and a live band.

Tellingly, after two hours of the most danceable music imaginable, none of the crowd were out of their seats. Still, at least no children were involved.

02 Arena until October 21, but not October 18 (0844 856 0202)

Offline moonstreet

  • The Little Big Admin
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4056
  • Country: ie
  • Kudos 4
  • Hard Rockin, with Pink Glitter & Sparkles♥♥♥♥
    • Moonstreet, an online scrapbook, Michael & Me
Re: Cirque IMMORTAL Europe Reviews
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2012, 10:47:17 AM »
http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/oct/15/michael-jackson-the-immortal-world-tour-review

Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour – review
Lyn Gardner
The Guardian, Monday 15 October 2012 12.39 BST


Michael Jackson's life was a circus, so the king of pop and Cirque du Soleil should have fitted each other as snugly as a hand in one of Jackson's trademark gloves. Cirque have already had massive success with the Las Vegas show Love, inspired by the Beatles' back catalogue, and so many of Jackson's songs and his choreography, including Thriller and Smooth Criminal, have a strong theatrical bent.

In fact the glove – outsized and dancing all on its own, creepily, like an escapee from a horror movie – makes an appearance in this tribute show, which also features someone cavorting as Bubbles the chimp, and a figure performing mime who doesn't so much invoke the spirit of Marcel Marceau as that of Mr Blobby. But the only hands operating effectively in this dismal enterprise are those dipping into the pockets of Jackson fans. This isn't so much a show as an opportunistic merger between two juggernaut brands.

The cast of dancers and singers can't be faulted, and the circus performers are outstanding – none more so than Luba Kazantseva and Igor Zaripov, whose dazzling straps routine is an epic display of beautiful brute strength that cuts through the sweetness of I Just Can't Stop Loving You. But the Cirque strategy of employing world-class circus performers and yet underusing their skills is only too evident here: it is a show that comes with so much syrup, so much bombast and such unwillingness to explore the darker undercurrents of the Jackson story that it begins to look and sound less like a celebration of Jackson's talent than a spectacular parody of it.

"Whatever happened to my childhood?" warbles MJ. The question that really demands an answer is, whatever happened to the artistic credibility of the creative team responsible for this show?

Offline moonstreet

  • The Little Big Admin
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4056
  • Country: ie
  • Kudos 4
  • Hard Rockin, with Pink Glitter & Sparkles♥♥♥♥
    • Moonstreet, an online scrapbook, Michael & Me
Re: Cirque IMMORTAL Europe Reviews
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2012, 10:50:30 AM »
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/reviews/first-night-michael-jackson-the-immortal-world-tour-o2-arena-london-8211011.html

First Night: Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour, O2 Arena, London
At last, Jackson appears at the O2 (but this off the wall tribute is no thriller)
ARIFA AKBAR    MONDAY 15 OCTOBER 2012


It started off small. Five early-era Michael Jackson lookalikes in psychedelic shirts and Afros, sneaking their way through Neverland ranch's front-gates. Once entry was achieved, a digital screen at the back of the O2 Arena blinked awake and unfurled to its full size, bringing with it the promise that this show was about to get very, very big. After all, the biggest brand in circus theatrics has got together with the estate of the late King of Pop to spawn the mother of all mash-ups.

Except that it never exploded into the magnificent monster of spectacle that it might have been. Cirque du Soleil, the Canadian mega-circus, is no stranger to hybrid shows at its Las Vegas residency. Love, in which the circus treatment was given to The Beatles' story, was widely praised, as was Viva Elvis.

The venue was to blame, at least in part. Its gargantuan size might have suited a live concert – Jackson had planned to play the O2 as part of his unrealised This Is It tour – but to stage this blend of dance, theatre and acrobatics in the arena was the equivalent of throwing a bucket of cold water over any fireworks it was hoping to set off. Performers who might have worked wonders on the rotunda stage of the Royal Albert Hall – Cirque's usual home – looked like small, insubstantial figures. Even the immense screen could not dominate the space.

The first part remained sluggish. There was no coherent storyline beyond entry to Neverland, and several songs were partly played or spliced into one another. A tableau celebrating Jackson's love of animals saw two ornate elephant puppets plod on stage and plod off again. A human chimp, playing Jackson's pet, Bubbles, looked as if he had lost his way from the set of Cirque's last show, Totem.

Most disappointingly, the acrobatic thrills were few and far between: a female aerialist performed boldly in a red bikini to "Dangerous", a couple doing a sexy tango posed in adjoined splits in the air. But much of the repertoire seemed rehashed from previous shows. Even if a tribute musical show was always destined to be more theatrical than acrobatic, too few numbers at the start were big enough productions. Dancers resembled a chorus line of moon-walkers and single-glove-wearing spinners, palely imitating their star frontman in his absence.

The first hour ended with "Thriller", which was impressive but no showstopper. The costumes were magnificent – the bats' wings a diaphanous gold-green, the ghouls clad in transparent white with bloody innards revealed beneath, and a green contortionist crawling across a book like a creature from a nightmare. Choreographically though, it was unadventurous when compared with the maniacal creativity of Jackson's original video.

The saving grace was the show's use of stage lighting. Acrobats wearing LED lights glimmered like stars. A chaos of strobe lights swung around the arena to assail the audience. Dancers became silhouettes of changing colours and acrobats dangled in darkness with lights studded across their coiled bodies. A ghostly hologram of Jackson, his arms in crucifix, was a marvel of lighting technology.

The show finally seemed to decide what it was going to be: an extravagant jukebox musical. Circus artistry was all but forgotten as flag-bearers inexplicably joined the dancers on stage for a medley of songs, and a crescendo of fireworks and messages of universal hope were delivered across the screen. Not quite immortal, but at least it went out with a bang.

Offline moonstreet

  • The Little Big Admin
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4056
  • Country: ie
  • Kudos 4
  • Hard Rockin, with Pink Glitter & Sparkles♥♥♥♥
    • Moonstreet, an online scrapbook, Michael & Me
Re: Cirque IMMORTAL Europe Reviews
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2012, 10:55:51 AM »
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/michael-jackson/9605575/Cirque-du-Soleils-Michael-Jackson-inspired-show-comes-to-the-O2.html#

Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson inspired show comes to the O2
Telegraph.co.uk  Friday 7:24PM BST 12 Oct 2012


Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour promises the "whimsy" of the famous circus with the "fire and funk" of the King of Pop's hits, according to his former choreographer Travis Payne.

The performers of the Cirque du Soleil's "Michael Jackson – The Immortal World Tour" begin a short run at the O2 Arena from Friday the 12th of October.

Travis Payne, the choreographer for the production and also for Jackson's doomed This Is It show, said the extravaganza contains, "the whimsy and fun and acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil with the sort of fire and funk of Michael Jackson."

"I think it's a perfect collaboration and I'm really proud of the show."

He added that the late King Of Pop was a big fan of the famed circus troupe.
"You know he's always loved Cirque and he'd been trying to find an opportunity to work with them, so that's why this is even more special because we know this is something that he wanted," Mr Payne said.

"Of course it's in a totally different way, but I think that the union got to happen."


Offline moonstreet

  • The Little Big Admin
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4056
  • Country: ie
  • Kudos 4
  • Hard Rockin, with Pink Glitter & Sparkles♥♥♥♥
    • Moonstreet, an online scrapbook, Michael & Me
Re: Cirque IMMORTAL London Reviews
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2012, 12:40:23 PM »
http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2012/10/18/michael-jackson-the-immortal-world-tour-by-cirque-du-soleil-at-the-o2/

Michael Jackson, The Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil at The O2
Helen Whitcher 18th October 2012


Written and directed by Jamie King, this show advertises itself as “a once-in-a-lifetime electrifying production that combines Michael Jackson’s music and choreography with Cirque du Soleil creativity to give fans worldwide a unique view into the spirit, passion and heart of the artistic genius who forever transformed global pop culture”. I suppose that is a fitting description, as the show was simply a homage to Jackson, at points more concerned with worshiping him than creative an effective show.

A large oval stage extended the standard stage for this performance allowing for a much larger performance space for this large cast. The show is made up of scenes, each with a variety of songs mashed together from the Jackson repertoire beginning with songs from Jackson 5 then moving on to his solo songs. The music is not always cut together well and almost no songs run straight through. This became annoying very quickly, the show became very bitty and broken in terms of structure.

The distinct lack of circus skills in the first half an hour of the show was ridiculous. There was lots of choreography, clever staging and props, yet even when we were given our first taste of circus (through the use of straps pulling up performers into the air), it was over within five seconds and happened only a few times in that segment. Apart from a few hand balancing tricks there really was nothing to latch on to as far as circus skills went. For a specifically circus related company, they really were being sparse with the disciplines.

The show then took a very confusing turn. A musician took to the stage with an electric cello and proceeded to perform a solo ending in a call and response themed ending, trying to get the audience to engage. This did not really happen, and I could see no reason for this act. Fair enough she was a decent player, but the act was over-done and the technique of playing was not what you would call fantastic. It seemed she was just there to show off, but this didn’t really sit well in the point of the show. It had no place really.

Despite the overall feeling that this was not really what we were expecting from the show, a few performers were absolutely stunning. The act entitled Dangerous (with a Jackson soundtrack of the same name) featured a pole dancer at the centre of the oval stage. She was truly magnificent, constantly moving and pausing in all manner of impressive positions. Her agility as an athlete and performer was a wonder to behold. She managed to keep the energy of the song tied in with her performance and was well rewarded with a roar of appreciation from the crowd.

After this dazzling show of skill something strange happened. There was a segment involving three performers on aerial hoops, hoisted into the air wearing costumes donned with ever changing lights, a wonderful spectacle. Well, it would have been if you could see the hoops. It is only through my past experience that I could work out that the aerial hoops were there, and even though the sight was pretty and impressive, they would have done better to make it clear that the hoops were the discipline.

Luckily, what came next made up for this short fall decision. A large book came up through the stage, and the central figure (a man all in sparkling white) opened it to reveal a performer. This contortion act, although short, was truly stunning. There was a huge range of hand balance tricks and the woman showed her flexibility by turning the pages of this giant book in all manner of bizarre ways. As a back-bender (contortionist that bends backwards and often rests on hands or torso) she wowed the crowd with a range of fast-changing mangled positions. She was wonderful to watch. Unfortunately, what came next was a massive come down was from this. A thriller themed segment saw cheesy bat costumes (along with the dance, obviously) and a load more dancing precede the interval.

After a short break, the performers dived into the audience to drag the crowd back to the show. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You was an apt name for the next circus act though, they were truly amazing. The double act encompassed straps into their routine balancing and hanging from each other, often by one hand or a foot. At one point, one performer bit down on a rope (while the other held the other end) and the straps were hoisted, resulting in the both gracefully dangling from the ceiling connected only by the rope clutched between one’s teeth. These two truly made the night worth it, it was an amazing display of skill.

The rest of the show mainly comprised of more dancing. Apart from the tumbling routine, which was very impressive, the show didn’t really produce any other memorable routines. This was when the show started to drag with number after number of simple ariel skills dotted around for good measure; possibly to reassure the audience this was still a circus company. The cello and guitar solo face-off was not really relevant, and the presence of space men with basketballs really proved no skill, just a time filler. The rest of the show was one big costume party.

All in all, this was a bizarre event. At points, the circus performers pulled out stunning performances, in particular the contortionist, pole dancer and aerial acrobatic duo. But the show was mostly just made up of big costumes and dance routines. Credit must be given to the costume designers who, I must say, outdid themselves in terms of quality, complexity and detail. The lighting design for the show was also outstanding, but all this seemed to cover up the fact that this show had no real sustenance. A few fleeting and extraordinary moments of performance were wedged between fleeting sections of music, constantly cutting between songs.

At the end of the day if you are a fan of Michael Jackson you will love this show. If you are a fan of Cirque du Soleil you are likely to be disappointed. This opinion was palpable at this event, with a mixed reaction from the crowd. Some were enthused and loving the energy, others seemed disappointed (in particular one individual who shouted what we were thinking, “show us some more acrobats”). Although this show does not advertise itself as a specific circus show, for a company with such a renowned reputation for quality there really was not enough circus in this.

As an avid fan of circus myself, including all of Cirque du Soleil’s previous shows, I would not recommend this to anyone who expects the ritual stream of quality routines with a running story line. This show is more for the Michael Jackson enthusiast, who then gets some clever tricks thrown in for good measure. The quality of some select performers mentioned earlier is worth a look, but the rest just had us sat wondering what they were trying to achieve here.

Offline moonstreet

  • The Little Big Admin
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4056
  • Country: ie
  • Kudos 4
  • Hard Rockin, with Pink Glitter & Sparkles♥♥♥♥
    • Moonstreet, an online scrapbook, Michael & Me
Re: Cirque IMMORTAL London Reviews
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2013, 08:13:07 PM »
Friday, 29th March 2013
Icon ‘Immortal’ Hits Manchester


Think Cirque du Soleil and it conjures up an image of high wire acrobatics. Well, that’s certainly been true of every other Cirque show to touch down in Manchester – but not this time, as the French-Canadian circus troupe branches out into something that more closely resembles a big budget pop show.

‘Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour’ – Cirque’s first to use arenas rather than travelling big tops, and a show that finally comes to Manchester Arena Friday night and Saturday afternoon – has been put together in honour of the sadly departed King of Pop, with the help of some of the former team and musicians booked to work on Michael’s cancelled ‘This Is It’ tour.

Crucially, it has the blessing of the Jackson family, in part one imagines because of the unprecedented scale of it – it is the biggest touring arena show of any kind, ever – and the massive investment of money (around £40m) and expertise that the Cirque team has put into it.

Michael, too, was a regular at Cirque’s resident shows in Las Vegas and as pop’s ultimate showman he’d surely have approved of this elaborate and fast moving spectacle.

In his considerable absence, then, are endless crews of dancers piling on stage performing Jackson’s trademark moves alongside original choreography and circus stunts.

The complex stage sets change rapidly throughout to mirror the songs, and an ever present live band performs medleys of the tunes that made Michael internationally famous: ‘Wanna Be Starting Something,’ ‘Smooth Criminal,’ ‘Thriller,’ ‘Beat It,’ ‘Earth Song,’ ‘Scream,’ ‘Can You Feel It,’ and ‘ABC,’ to name but a few. Most of the action is at ground level, then, and yet the performers haven’t entirely abandoned their aerial routines. There are still plenty of toned young men on the ends of ropes swinging into the rafters and out over the heads of the front few rows, and there’s death defying dangling from straps duo Luba Kazantseva and Brandon Pereyda.

But more than anything, this is a celebration of the ultimate pioneer of pop and performance. “People ask us, ‘Why is this show so different?’” says artistic director Tara Young.

“Through this show, I have learned to love and appreciate this man more. I believe if he was seeing this show he’d be so proud of us and so thankful that people are representing him in this beautiful light. This show stars performers from 17 countries, which just goes to show how much he united people.

We’re honouring an icon – who gets to do that? I’m 45 next month, but when ‘Thriller’ came out I was in high school and we all knew how to do these moves; it’s possible to forget how much he pioneered choreography for pop concerts.

We don’t have a star, but the moment his face appears on screen you’d think Michael Jackson was in the house from the noise in the arenas.”

Manchester Arena, today (8pm)/Saturday (3pm), £30-£100

http://www.mjworld.net/news/2013/03/29/icon-immortal-hits-manchester/