Meanwhile in a parallel universe… (an open letter to Michael Jackson on your last night at the O2)

Meanwhile in a parallel universe… (an open letter to Michael Jackson on your last night at the O2)

So this really is it. Tomorrow night is the last night of your mammoth 50 nights at the O2 in London. And what a journey it’s been. 

Well the first thing to do is to put my hand up and admit I was wrong (and being wrong – I’m substantially poorer for it). I didn’t think you’d do it, and I didn’t think it would be all that, but mates who’d shelled out for tickets on the first night, alongside rave reviews made me scamper to eBay to pay tout-prices to go and see your This Is It show twice with my wife Claire already. 

You only cancelled one night’s show for illness, on what would have been the twenty second show, but this was made up by an all-star cast of singing stand ins (George Michael was amazing, but Floetry’s Marsha and Natalie and the unsung Lewis Taylor stole the show – you’ve always been able to spot real talent) so the first thing that surprised me has been your stamina. Not just seeing you perform with my own eyes, but the reports, blogs and twitter feeds from the show night after night have showed you as a performer at the top of your game – clearly loving being back where you belongs – onstage in front of a knowledgeable, appreciative audience, where the (and sorry, I’ve got to drag this up) tawdry recent few years could be left behind as you’ve let the music do the talking. 

The next thing that struck me on both times that I saw the show was your sheer ambition and professionalism. Amazing musicians, dancers, choreography, aerial artists and bespoke videos (the 3D Thriller section was my favourite) have shown off not just a consummate performer, at ease with yourself most when onstage where you belong, but a master of stagecraft – not gimmicks and frills – but popular entertainment at its best. Great songs, well-played, amazingly performed and brought to life with skill, care and humour night after night. 

Having had you here for the best part of a year, you’ve pretty much become a Londoner, Michael, and London’s going to miss you. We’ll miss your crazy midnight trips to Selfridges to shop alone (whilst the tipped-off throngs milled around outside). We’ll miss your unannounced trips to London’s backstreets and secret haunts (like going to Brick Lane Bagel Bakery at 4am – stories say queuing in disguise with the policemen, cabbies, brasses and clubbers!), your TV appearances, like where you slummed it singing Dirty Diana with Oli Murs on X-Factor, and propelling him on to win (shame you kept him off the Xmas number one spot though – heh-heh!) and the whole mad circus of people around you. You’ve made London a brighter place to be. 

It’s been a blast. Word says that the reputed £250m you will have made from the show added to the increase in your record sales have helped get you back on the economic straight and narrow, but I don’t think this is the important bit. Your creative juices seem to be flowing like never before. I know this stuff is still supposed to be undercover, but three separate musician friends of mine have told me unrelated stories about being called into top London studios at the dead of night for rehearsals and tracking for new material that they swear could only be by you. They all told me the same thing: the stuff’s amazing.

Getting tickets for tomorrow – your final night in London and who knows (if you’re a man of your word, and I’ve no reason to doubt it) the last time anyone could see you live anywhere – has set me back more than I put down as a deposit on my first house, but it’ll be worth every penny. 

So thanks Michael. Thank you for investing your time, care, love and energy into making This Is It one of your career’s highlights and one of the most amazing artistic experiences of my life. I don’t know a performer alive who has it in them to top those shows (and I’m not even sure there’s one with the audacity to try). 

We’re going to miss you…

With love,