Summer Nights Concerts
Pacific National Exhibition Amphitheatre | Sunday, Aug. 18
If the sold-out crowd in the Fan Zone was any indication, nostalgia can be a powerful draw when it comes to summer concerts. But could The Jackson’s live up to all the affection?
This is the first time The Jacksons have made it to Vancouver since their 1984 tour to support Victory, their final album with Michael. It must have been a tough tour — Michael had become musical royalty two years earlier with his iconic solo album Thriller, while the rest of the brothers had begun to fade into relative obscurity. Of the four remaining brothers, only Jermaine was able to break any ground with his solo albums, but even he lived in the considerable shadows of his second-youngest brother and their baby sister, Janet.
BC Place was packed to see the newly minted King of Pop back in 1984. But the album didn’t do well by Jacksons’ standards, and none of its eight forgettable synth-rock tracks have popped up on the set list for the 2013 tour.
Instead they focused on the minor and major hits from the heyday of The Jackson 5, throwing in the occasional selection from Michael’s solo career.
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Backed by a six-piece band and one back up singer, the four remaining Jacksons — Marlon, Tito, Jackie, and Jermaine — appeared onstage and struck a pose.
Clad in sparkling tunics in black, white and red, they barrelled through a selection of their late 70s party hits before stirring up some audience participation for Let Me Show You the Way To Go from their 1977 self-titled album. Rough patches with the sound swallowed a couple of solos, but the brothers managed it all with spirit.
The action came to a grinding halt a few songs in with a photo interlude of classic Jacksons moments on the two giant screens flanking the stage, played to a soundtrack of a pre-recorded We’re Here to Entertain You, featuring a young Michael.
The brothers then reminisced for a moment — seated on stools, because it was a serious moment — while a video of them playing football together on a beach (like real brothers) ran interspersed with more classic footage.
Then there was some slow motion “classic” footage of the brothers performing together on this tour while they sang Time Waits for No One from Triumph.
Then we got really “behind the music” with some footage of the zany photographers who captured the spontaneous beach football game.
Whenever Michael appeared on the screens, it was heralded with great aplomb. Jermaine even sang Gone Too Soon, a particularly schmaltzy ballad from Michael’s 1991 album Dangerous.
In the second half of the set, they focused on the old stuff, promising to do it just like they did on the Ed Sullivan Show.
They had arms in the air for a big rendition of I’ll Be There before getting back to the rock for Can’t Let Her Get Away from Dangerous.
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