Music legends and three generations of Michael Jackson's family celebrated the King of Pop's life
at the Michael Forever tribute concert this past Saturday in Cardiff, Wales. Musicians stepped foot on the gigantic glove-shaped stage to perform hits from the Jackson 5 catalogue, as well as Michael's most notable solo efforts such as Thriller and Bad. Performers included Christina Aguilera, Gladys Knight, Cee Lo Green, The Black Eyed Peas, Ne-Yo, Smokey Robinson, Beyonce, and more.
The four-hour tribute was filled with heartfelt performances.
"We're very happy to be here on this special night to honor our father," said Jackson's 13-year-old daughter, Paris, who made a brief onstage appearance alongside brothers Prince, 14, and 9-year-old Michael Joseph Jr., best known as Blanket. They hit the stage wearing their father's most famous styles, with ring-leader Paris taking the cake with a red and black "Thriller" styled jacket.
Though the concert appeared to be overshadowed by the Los Angeles manslaughter trial of Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray, iffy ticket sales and dissension within the Jackson family, the evening was an attempt to sway fans to focus on the the late star's music, rather than death and controversy.
"It's not about the controversy," said R&B star Ne-Yo, who jump started the show with a rendition of "Billie Jean," topped off with some with nailed moonwalking. "It's not about the trial. It's not about his death. It's about celebrating his life. It's about celebrating his music."
The 50,000-strong crowd at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium did just that, roaring with approval as Jackson's brothers Marlon, Tito and Jackie took the stage for "Blame It On the Boogie" with British boyband JLS.
"This is a great counter-act to that," said Motown great Smokey Robinson, who gave a soulful rendition of "She's Out of My Life." "And it gives people something happy to do, rather than thinking about what's going on in the trial," added Robinson.
The show continued with lively performances. Leona Lewis crooned "I'll Be There," as Beyonce delivered "I Wanna Be Where You Are" and Jamie Foxx performed "Rock With You." Christina Aguilera sang Charlie Chaplin's "Smile," noted to be one of Jackson's favorite songs. The show reached it's peak with Knight performed "Gone Too Soon" before the finale that called for most of the performers and the Jackson children back onstage for the disco classic "Don't Stop Til' You Get Enough."
Though the performances and tributes seemed like fun, the concert indeed divided the King of Pop's family and friends. Mike's three brothers in attendance, along with sister La Toya and vocal group 3T — composed of three of Michael's nephews — all performed, while 81-year-old matriarch Katherine was in the audience. But brothers Jermaine and Randy and sister Janet were missing in action, disagreeing with the tribute happening around the same time as Murray's trial. --Shabazz