Thanks to my man @prak_daddy, I can finally say that I witnessed a Jackson or Jacksons concert. No, I never got to see a Jackson in their hey-day in concert. And unfortunately, I’ll never be able to say that I saw MJ in concert. But, seeing the Jacksons at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, CA on Friday night made me realize one thing: no matter how much the Jacksons family is in news for all the wrong reasons, their home is on the stage.
I’m not really sure what to make about the current Jacksons family drama. Some of the family believe that Michael’s will was doctored. Maybe Katherine Jackson at 82 years old isn’t fit enough to raise three kids. Randy Jackson (who was not part of the show) had an entire diatribe on Twitter and then tweeted about a fake will.
Paris, Prince, and Blanket’s uncle TJ (who may be their legal guardian before it’s all said and done), tried to play like a guardian (at least through Twitter):
And while both Marlon and Jermaine (and no, he wasn’t greasy at all) had some generic thoughts about “The Family” and “The Brothers”, you couldn’t tell that they were going through any sort of drama by their collective performance. The brothers moved like men of lesser ages. In fact, Marlon moved like a man half his age. Marlon and Jermaine especially seemed to try and be loving with each other on stage amidst all of the public back and forth (especially since they’re on separate sides of the estate issue). Sometimes, Jermaine even looked a little uncomfortable as if to say, “Come on little bruh, you’re over doing it.” But if you lived without TMZ in your life, you would’ve never known there were issues.
(Right before the brothers were about to start, Katherine Jackson made an appearance under heavy security. One security guard was especially angry at the many people pulling out their cameras to shoot photos. He was pointing his tiny flashlight at people and yelling at them to stop. They stopped, though, after taking their photos. Someone should’ve told that security guard that photos can be snapped fairly instantly these days. Michael’s children were supposedly there as well, though I didn’t see them. I might’ve had to take a dirty stare from angry security guy to get a photo of Blanket, just to see if little man is still scared of all the publicity.)
The event was held in an intimate outdoor arena at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, CA. It’s a great place to watch a concert. So great, look at how the website describes the cozy setting:
For the annual summer concert series, our historic Winery Building, with its intimate ivy-covered stone structure, engenders old world ambiance and provides a dramatic stage backdrop. This intimate setting ensures an exceptional experience for our star performers and guests alike.
Star performers, like the Jacksons. The Jacksons set lasted nearly two hours long and went 26 songs deep, including songs from the Jacksons albums of the 70s, their normal J5 routine, some of Michael’s hits, and Jermaine’s three song left-right-left combo (Dynamite/Let’s Get Serious/Do What You Do). Jermaine especially was in fantastic voice. I knew Jermaine could sing, but hearing him sing live, having to cover Mike’s parts on some hard songs to sing, left me very impressed. Marlon did his best to bring Mike’s dance moves to the stage and he was yakking it up with the crowd. He was like an MC for the event while also playing second fiddle in the group vocally, only to Jermaine.
Jackie Jackson is 61 years old and even though he looks more like the old “Boomerang” actor John Witherspoon than he actually does Jackie Jackson these days, he still brought a ton of energy to the stage. Tito doesn’t dance all that much (and neither does Jermaine), though I popped when he brought out the deep monotone for Heaven Knows I Love You Girl and said, “You know, when two hearts beat as one/When two minds think as one/They can overcome any obstacle/And always stay together.” He may have been talking about his brothers on stage.
If you’ve ever heard The Jacksons Live album, the show reminded me of a version of that album. Much like that album, the show started with the brothers performing Can You Feel It. They quickly segued to Blame It On The Boogie, which I expected to be near the end, but ended up working fine here as well. Surprisingly, they went into I Wanna Be Where You Are for a bit before doing the first MJ song, Rock With You. I know some people have issues with the brothers performing MJ’s songs. I think they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Jermaine (mostly) is doing MJ’s vocals on the other songs anyway. Do we need him performing Michael’s solo hits? The concert probably works just as well enough without them. But the crowd, while being huge Jacksons fans, were even bigger MJ fans. This was the closest many of them, myself included, would ever get to seeing Michael live. I thought the songs worked. They even performed Can’t Let Her Get Away, which wasn’t even an MJ single, but is slick as hell. They did a long version of that song which allowed them to introduce the band.
Jermaine’s best moment of the night was singing Gone Too Soon to MJ. I always thought this was the song Jermaine should’ve performed at Michael’s funeral, but was instead performed by Usher. Jermaine would just look into the sky and the pessimist in me wondered if he was really thinking about his little bro, or if he was doing it simply for the dramatics. The way he performed this song, he couldn’t have just been doing it for the dramatics.
The brothers did some of the old stuff with Marlon playing the Michael role and only wanting to do the old stuff if they did it in his favorite medley. Now, we’ve seen tons of versions of this medley, so you know what to expect. But damn, it sure brings back great memories every time.
The end of the show medley started with This Place Hotel, which I’d been waiting for. It’s a mysterious song that you could say is a bit of a precursor to MJ’s own Billie Jean. The reality of the song is that its entirety is Tito on guitar, some of the brothers on percussion, and MJ singing the entire thing. The brothers took what was mostly an MJ track and made it hot. This was followed up with Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, which at first I mistook for the old Victory track, Body (see the goofy 80s video). Jermaine did his very best to hit all the high notes in the next song, Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough. And then they closed with an extended extended version of Shake Your Body To The Groundwhich seemed to restart at least twice. Marlon went buck wild during this song dancing his backside off. He kept doing a pose (think vogueing before Madonna’s song even came out), striking it, and then covering his hand over his face. It was ridiculous. But it was 100% Marlon.
If you have any kind of Michael Jackson fan in you and the Jacksons are coming to your hood, I’d suggest you see them. While I, being 36, was on the younger side of the crowd, the demographic you’d expect to be Jacksons fans (probably younger 40s and up) absolutely had a ball. This was their childhood. It wasn’t necessarily mine, but it was the closest I’d come to seeing MJ and thanks to @prak_daddy, I saw it.
Here’s the track list for the evening:
Can You Feel It
Blame It On The Boogie
I Wanna Be Where You Are
Rock With You
Show You The Way To Go
Looking Through The Window
Time Waits For No One
Heaven Knows I Love You Girl
Push Me Away
Man Of War
Gone Too Soon
The Love You Save
Never Can Say Goodbye
All I Do Is Think Of You
I’ll Be There
Let’s Get Serious
Do What You Do
Can’t Let Her Get Away
This Place Hotel
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough
Shake Your Body Down To The Ground