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From streetdance to soul, r'n'b to hard rock, all the incredible artists packing the bill for the Michael Forever tribute concert gave their all on what was truly a night to remember. Listen to Alexandra Burke, the Jacksons and 3T talk to Heart
Michael's family were out in force: sister La Toya Jackson looked every inch a Jackson and resembled Michael in style and movement, as she strode onstage in an amazing, silver shoulder-padded outfit to deliver a funked-up version of 'In the Closet'. There wasn't a dry eye in the house as Michael's children Paris, Prince and Blanket introduced Beyonce's video contribution with an emotional speech. International smash hit makers and multi-platinum selling artists 3T strode onstage with dad Tito Jackson to stop the show with versions of 'Why' and 'Heartbreak hotel'. Proudly watching over it all was Michael's mother Katherine, a strong supporter of the tribute from the outset.
Some of pop's top stars were out in force to celebrate Michael's life and music. American diva Yolanda Adams brought the soul with a striking version of 'Earth Song', but to show her how it's done she had motown legends Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson, who inspired a standing ovation with their duet of 'I Just Can't Stop Loving You'.
British talent showed how much Michael's influence has spread across the channel: petit popstar Pixie Lott looked stunning in a sparkling silver dress for her versions of 'I Want You Back' and 'You Are Not Alone'. While Alexandra Burke rocked out with versions of 'Who's Loving You' and 'Scream', and Leona Lewis gave a delicate and devastating performance surrounded by ballerinas dressed in shining white.
Host academy award winning Jamie Foxx made sure that the energy in the arena didn't drop for a second, and predictably for a show about Michael, they made much of the audience's dancing abilities: Fearne asked the crowd to shout out if they'd ever attempted a moonwalk on the kitchen lino. Dance played a big role onstage too, with streetdance superstars Diversity wowing the whole stadium in a Michael inspired routine, complete with sharp disco suits.
Fans had the tissues at the ready for a tear-jerking rendition of 'Gone Too Soon' by the awe-inspiring trio of Alexandra Burke, Yolanda Adams and Gladys Knight.
The show ended with an amazing finale performance of 'Don't Stop Til You Get Enough', with Jamie Foxx getting Ne-Yo back onstage to lead a chorus of performers: La Toya, Tito Jackson, 3T, Smokey Robinson, Prince, Paris and Blanket, multiple Jackson grandchildren and great grandchildren ,Gladys Knight, Alexandra Burke and Alien Ant Farm. Prince got his groove on while Paris grabbed the mic and sang.
It took a lot of hard work to turn this amazing show into the spectacle it was. 100 tons of lighting and sound equipment had to be hoisted up above the stage and a mile of trussing had to be especially installed for the event (along with over 50 kilometres of cable!). EVERY LED panel available IN THE WORLD was put into action as part of the revolutionary stage- shaped like Michael’s iconic white glove.
600 people worked round the clock on the day of the show to make sure it all went off without a hitch and in the end, the sold out show blew the roof off of expectations.
It wasn’t all hard graft though: technological advances since the days when Michael was first a superstar took some of the pressure off. A show stopping recreation of the video to ‘Billie Jean’, by all singing all dancing Ne-Yo, complete with seriously retro-cool light up flooring, was achieved automatically thanks to the power of microchips. The original took 19 takes for the lighting operator to line up with Michael’s unbeatable moves!
All the work paid off, and the fabulous night played out in front of a capacity crowd.
Gladys Knight, often credited with originally discovering the Jacksons, said that Michael's was an inspiration to us all. “Michael had a pure heart. Blessed are the pure of heart”.
Michael's sister and performer La Toya Jackson said: "It's been great to be together as a family: we're always together but never in something like this, it's so exciting and it's great fun for my mother. This is something my brother Michael would have enjoyed with all his heart, and I could feel his love and presence all around us!".
"Michael was so special. He shared his soul with us. His voice made us feel something."
Asked whether she thought Michael would have enjoyed the evening, she said “are you kidding? He'd have loved it, in fact he is enjoying it, he really is"
The evening was an undiluted triumph, which will go down in musical history, and in the hearts of all who attended.