A real thriller of a show

Michael Jackson Thriller

Thriller Live

Wolverhampton Grand

*****

WHATEVER you may think about Michael Jackson there is no denying that the combination of his brilliant music and choreography has left an everlasting mark on the world’s pop culture.

The reach of his talent is proven in the diverse mix of people in the audience of Thriller Live, who by the end of the night were moved to a standing ovation.  

Even so it’s a show that can only offer a glimpse of his vast catalogue of work and try to recreate many of his now iconic dance routines that have become instantly recognisable to millions of people.

Thriller live does not take the Stars in your Eyes approach to completely mimic the man and his music but provides a set of competent lead vocalists who in some cases deliver their own rendition of Jackson’s classics.

Whilst the male vocalists like Alex Buchanan and J Rome have moments that truly sound like Jackson the female vocalist Samantha Johnson can only provide  a more cabaret like rendition of the songs but is still highly competent and entertaining.

Throughout the show the cast recreate many of Jackson’s pop videos. It’s a tough ask to deliver the routines of one the most formidably original dancers of our time live on stage and at times the worthrillerk falls far short of being slick with some of the chorography a little wooden .

One disappointment, not for their performance but their nonappearance, is the excellent live band which is hidden behind projection screens for most of the time. This seems to happen often on musical revues and directors should recognise that a real band is an advantage to the visual dynamics of a live performance so to hide them away is a mistake. There were a few times when one of them came out to play a guitar solo and just that fact drew some of the biggest cheers from the audience.

Another bug bear always for me is the lack of sound quality on many musical tours and considering it’s all about the music the mix was pleasant rather than exiting. Jackson’s music is pulsating and driving but considering during the numbers I could hear people still talking behind me gives you an idea of how tame the music production was on the night.

The music only seemed to get close to a powerful sound by the end of the night as we headed towards Billie Jean and the dynamic Thriller.

Some of the best songs were the ballads like She’s out of my life but considering this was an ensemble, one of the most powerful group performances was Earth Song where the combination of the voices, staging and individual performances truly made the song their own.

Thriller is more than a tribute act, it’s a great testimony to one of the most productive, creative, and original performers of all time.

Rather than recall the controversy that surrounded him, it’s a unique chance to remember him for the joy of his music and dancing and collectively what he has brought to pop culture and the legacy he has left to us all.  To 15-11-14

Jeff Grant

11-11-14

It’s all in the name

****

THEY couldn’t have found a better title for this all action celebration of the remarkable Michael Jackson and his family who made such a dynamic impact on the pop scene.

The show is a non-stop blitz covering 45 years of hit after hit, and the lively cast complete the task in just over two hours.

And strangely enough, while much of the concert is about super star Michael, a young lady steals the show. Lead vocalist Samantha Johnson, 25, is a delight with a whole range of songs.

Sporting a glorious mop of hair, she is a bundle of energy and it’s easy to see why the pretty girl from Massachusetts is also known as Samantha The Bomb.

A large audience on opening night really got in the mood as the excellent seven-piece band belted out the big numbers like I’ll Be There, Can You Feel It, Bad, and, of course, Thriller when Sean Christopher takes on the role of Michael Jackson impressively and is joined by a bunch of zombies for that never-to-be-forgotten dance.

Other outstanding contributions come from Wayne Robinson, Alex Buchanan, Tyrone Lee and J. Rome.

The dancers are excellent in an enjoyable show with spectacular lighting effects and colourful costumes.

Directed and choreographed by Gary Lloyd, Thriller Live lives on to 15.11.14

Paul Marston 

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