Bristol Hippodrome

Thriller Live, February 2016


The Way You Make Me Feel


Thriller is a showcase for the songbook of the legend that was Michael Jackson – a sensational music and dancing masterpiece.

But I didn’t feel like that after the first half which was a mishmash of Motown against a psychedelic backdrop.

Let me explain: I am not a big Michael Jackson fan.

At a time when he was oh so popular I was listening to Bob Dylan and The Cure and the king of rock, pop and soul was too sweet and boyish.

That was in the beginning when he was asexual compared to the bio-diversity gender blender strutted by that other late legend David Bowie.

It was in 1975 while working at the Intercontinental Hotel at Hyde Park Corner that the Jackson 5 came to stay.

Master Jackson called me and asked if I could arrange for a grand piano to the installed in his room – I presume he meant suite – and I had vision of a crane hailing a Steinway up the side of the multi-storey building.

The duty manager gave the request short shrift and I had to telephone Master Jackson to say sorry but it wasn’t possible however he was welcome to use the piano in the ballroom for his rehearsals.

He said: “Thank you Ma’am.”

And that was it.

My older daughter as a teenager had a massive Michael Jackson poster practically covering one of her bedroom walls – it was pre-plastic surgery and he looked as he should have looked.

My theory has always been he was far more badly burned when making the Pepsi advertisement in 1984 so some of the face-changing was for good reason.

I digress – the show Thriller Live, what did I think?

My middle daughter saw in a few years ago and loved the athletic dancing and the ethic make up of the cast but honestly the best Jackson in the current line-up is a bald-headed white bovver boy – I kid you not.

Rory Taylor owned the stage supported by American vocalist Angelica Allen, a Janet Jackson lookalike, and a posse of multi-talented singers and dancers.

While I disliked the karaoke moments, disco lights and Simon-says panto-style audience participation parts the younger people in our group loved it!

The set did seem partly borrowed from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and the Lord of the Dance fire sequence.

But then it got better because the second half was great.

The flipping of their white suit tails, crotch hugging moves and the ‘dangerous’ 007 sequence got my attention and I was ready to enjoy.

The dance movements were so precise it was like being caught in a strobe light with the shutter moving faster than the speed of light – amazing.

The street gang, Beat It, Black Panther salute, guitar solos – now what’s not to like.

The every which way walking, the foot-tapping drum beat in the end the show seduced me and the words of What About The Sunshine resounded in my head.

Granddaughter Brooke Middleton, aged 11, said: “I thought it was a great show and I loved the interactive bit where you got to put your hands up in the air and do a little dance.”

Her big sister Erin Silvester agreed.

She said: “I think that the funniest thing was all the singers were like the Jackson Five except the bald one who was the least stereotypical one to be in the tribute group yet he was by far the best and I found that hilarious.” 

The sisters voted the synchronized Egyptian sequence their best dance and Billie Jean their favourite song which goes to prove you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Producer Paul Walden said the for the 10-month tour they had incorporated four new songs, a new opening and new production elements which includes video and special effects.

Thriller Live plays the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, February 20.

Carol Deacon