JACKSON LIVE IN CONCERT Starring WHO’S BAD (Live Review)

Lakewood, NJ - September 9, 2017

Wednesday 14th March 2018 – Ipswich Regent – £28.50

Official SiteTour Dates


 

TRANSATLANTIC TRIBUTE

Founded in 2003 and touring since the following year, hard-working American Michael Jackson tribute troupe Who’s Bad rocked the Ipswich Regent theatre in Suffolk last night as part of their ongoing UK tour. It’s a shame that the very same venue only hosted another tribute to the King of Pop in the form of Navi (commonly acclaimed the world’s number one tribute owing to his working relationship with MJ) a few short months ago, as otherwise the take up for this gig would no doubt have been far nearer to being sold-out. That said, the audience was healthy and up for a good time – and Who’s Bad more than delivered.

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Michael Jackson “SCREAM” (Album Review)

CD/digital download available: 29th September 2017

Vinyl record available: 27th October 2017

Produced by: MJJ Productions – Released by: Epic Records/Legacy/Sony Music


 

WELCOME TO YOUR DOOM

As Maestro of All Hallows Eve’s unofficial anthem, Michael Jackson has for many years been synonymous with the witching season. But it is not just on 1982’s monster hit “Thriller” (and that John Landis-directed 1984 short film) that the King of Pop got to indulge his love of the macabre in his music. While Christmas albums have long been a profitable tradition, this creepy compilation – the brainchild of the late star’s prolific Estate – is perhaps the first high profile Halloween-themed set. Executive producers John Branca and John McClain will hope Scream will rise from the grave to haunt record store shelves every October.

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BEN: A Tribute to Michael Jackson (Live Review)

The Apex, Bury St Edmunds –21st September 2017 – Tickets £21.00

Official WebsiteTwitter


 

DANCING MACHINES

As my nearest and dearest will attest, I am very much a staunchly-protective Michael Jackson fan – as evidenced by the fact that I was nearly reduced to tears of outrage while watching Cirque Du Soleil’s Immortal World Tour when it hit the o2 back in 2011 (but that’s another story). Since losing my idol in 2009, it’s hard for even official Estate-licenced tributes to cut the mustard, the man really was a one off. “Stay away then!” you may yell, but that misses the point of supporting and celebrating the man, the music and the performances I have loved and cherished since I was 7 years old.

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Despicable Me 3 (Cinema Review)

U – 90mins – 2017 – 3D


 

GRU GONE GOOD

Happily married to Lucy (Kristen Ghostbusters Wiig) and living a respectable life as a father to his three adopted girls, former supervillain Gru (Steve Carell) is now a top agent for the Anti-Villain League. But when new blood takes over the AVL, Gru and Lucy find themselves thrown to the curb for failing to apprehend former child-star-turned-jewel-thief Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker). Will reuniting with his long-lost twin brother, Dru (also Carell), see Gru back on a path to heroism, or will Dru coerce him to return to his shady past?

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The Jacksons at Newmarket Nights (Live Review)

Jacksons Newmarket

Newmarket Racecourse, Suffolk – 30th June 2017 – Tickets from £35.00

Official WebsiteTour Dates


 

DANCING MACHINES

The weather forecast for last night in Newmarket was dire. Torrential rain dire. Not the kind of night to pop out for a pint of milk, much less to stand in the middle of a grassy field for two hours. But then last night was no ordinary night, because the Jacksons were in town!

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INSIDE NO. 9, 3.4 – “Empty Orchestra” (TV Review)

Image result for inside no. 9 empty orchestra

BBC Two – Tuesday 7th March 2017 – 10pm

Created and written by: Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton

Directed by: Guillem Morales


 

KOLLEGUE KARAOKE KHAOS

Billed as a dark comedy and at its best when subverting our expectations, there is never a guarantee that each individual instalment of anthology series Inside No. 9 will be out-and-out horror. So far in this third run we’ve had festive snuff victims (“The Devil of Christmas”), throat-slashing con artists (“The Bill”) and an ingeniously intricate double death revenge scheme (“The Riddle of the Sphinx”). In comparison, this week’s colleague backbiting in a cramped karaoke pod feels somewhat… tame. This is the closest to a straight-laced drama the series has ever veered.

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The LEGO Batman Movie (Cinema Review)

Image result for the lego batman movie

U – 104mins – 2017 – 3D


 

BUILDING UP THE BRAND

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller constructed franchise brick-starting gold in 2014 with the riotously hilarious Lego Movie, ably balancing razor-sharp humour, resonating heart, zippy action and a rainbow colour palette to make one of the funniest and most heat-warming cinema experiences I have had in a long time.

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Thriller Live (Live Review)

Norwich Theatre Royal – 13th-18th January 2017 – £8-£32.50

Directed and choreographed by: Gary Lloyd

Executive director: Adrian Grant

Official Show websiteTour Tickets


BOOGIE WONDERLAND

Recently recognised as the 17th longest running production in West End history, in the eight years it has been thrilling audiences I have seen Gary Lloyd’s spectacular tribute to the King of Pop on three separate occasions. Each time it has been on tour from its established base at London’s Lyric Theatre, and each time it has improved significantly, growing more confident, more ebullient, more honed.

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Michael Jackson – Auckland 1996 (Album Review)

Label: Zip City

Release date: 10th June 2016


 

HIS UNMASTERED VOICE

Testament to my unhealthily compulsive buy-first-regret-later obsession with anything Michael Jackson is this blatantly unauthorised (yet widely available, even making onto the “HMV Recommends” display in my local branch!) TV rip of the New Zealand Broadcast from 11th November 1996 of the King of Pop’s Ericsson Arena, Auckland stop on his mammoth HIStory World Tour.

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Xscape Origins (Book Review)

Written by: Damien Shields
Published by: Modegy, 2015.
141 pages.
damienshields.com         xscapeorgins.com


 

XPOSING THE BLUEPRINTS

Reaching #1 around the world, receiving healthy reviews, regular radio spins and music channel plays and introducing a new generation to the genius that is Michael Jackson, it is fair to say that Sony’s second major posthumous album, 2014’s Xscape, was a sizable hit. But for all its critical and commercial success, the album left a sour taste in the mouth of some long-term supporters.

Motivated by his dissatisfaction that the King of Pop’s “unpolished gems” were relegated to deluxe edition bonus tracks in lieu of what were essentially newly produced remixes by big name producers du jour (Timbaland, StarGate, J-Roc), lifelong Australian mega-fan Damien Shields began to research and compile a book through which he could shine a light on the work, energy and passion which his idol put into perfecting the original unreleased tracks and demo versions.

“A perfectionist has to take his time…. He shapes and he moulds and he sculpts that thing until it’s perfect. He can’t let it go before he’s satisfied; he can’t.”

Xscape Origins: The Songs & Stories Michael Jackson Left Behind (to give its full, synopsis-encompassing title) is that book, stitching myriad collaborator interviews, studio anecdotes, hard facts and song trivia into an easily accessible and moreish read. Shields self-deprecatingly reduces his input to that of “storyteller” in his ‘Introduction’, but he should be commended for his journalist talent in conveying what could be a deluge of baffling and boring details in a light and enlightening document. The fact that the book concludes with FIFTEEN pages of ‘Sources’ and ‘Acknowledgements’ cements the author’s exhaustive commitment to this defiant passion project.

Taking the album’s eight tracks chapter-by-chapter, Origin’s economic length is constricted by the source material’s skimpy duration. But within each chapter a wealth of knowledge is imparted – some of which I, as a diehard fan since the age of 7, was shocked to learn and surprised I had never heard before. That Shields was able to bag exclusive interviews with such A-list musicians and engineers as Michael Prince, Brad Buxer, Cory Rooney, Dr. Freeze and Rodney Jerkins (to name but a few) is a major coup – and shows how much their time writing and recording with Michael Jackson resonates even with industry professionals.

It’s just a pity that due to its antagonistic, record company and Estate-needling nature Xscape Origins will only ever be an unofficial fan-made curio, as the prose content is breathtakingly insightful. Sadly prose is all it consists of, where some photographs and pictorial documentation (of studio sessions, handwritten lyrics, etcetera) would undoubtedly have elevated this slim paperback into an even more compelling and well-rounded glimpse into the creative process of one of music’s most inspirational and enigmatic legends.

CR@B Verdict: 4 stars