Saturday 12th September 2015 was a truly special date.
It began by my attending a rally being held in Parliament Square, organised to demonstrate support for desperate people displaced from their war-torn countries. One-hundred-thousand people stood around me – peaceful feet on the ground proudly making their opinion count. The pacifist Member of Parliament Jeremy Corbyn had just been elected as Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, with his first act being to take the stage at the rally and underline his commitment to helping vulnerable people.
The atmosphere of empathy for suffering fellow human beings was palpable. I cried. And it wouldn’t be for the last time that day.
I left the rally to go and join an altogether different crowd, the forty thousand revellers at Hyde Park who had come together to celebrate the Last Night of the Proms – a musical celebration of British patriotism. It’s not something I’d typically involve myself in, but The Jacksons were headlining the event, and the chance to see them take the stage in honour of Michael – to watch them perform the songs they co-penned and toured with him for two decades, all backed by the world-renowned BBC Symphony Orchestra – was simply too scintillating a prospect to pass up.
Seasoned spectators of Last Night of the Proms seemed unprepared for the passion of Michael Jackson fans. Speaking for myself, as I stumbled and squeezed my way to the front of the crowd, I certainly piqued the annoyance of several picnic-blanket-wielding classical music stalwarts. I might have accidentally stood on the odd Union Jack flag, too.
Still. I’m a Michael Jackson concert veteran. This lot were a walk in the park.
The show began in true Jackson-style, with a teasing video montage intro that gradually stratified anticipation of the brothers’ arrival on stage. Though I must admit, with each layer of excitement that was set – as video footage of Michael played on the screens – I also felt an equal amount of pathos at the tragedy of Michael not being there.
“Can you feel it…? CAN YOU FEEL IT?!”
Can You Feel It! Live orchestra! Can you imagine it?!
“If you look around / The whole world’s coming together now… / All the colours of the world should be / Loving each other wholeheartedly / Yes, its all right / Take my message to your brother and tell him twice.”
Michael was there, after all! Of course he was! His artistry was there. His soul was there.
The message poignantly echoed the sentiments of the rally held in Parliament Square.
The brothers were as impeccable as you’d expect. Marlon whirled around the stage in pure joy, Jackie’s singing was spectacular, Tito was masterful and Jermaine glued everything together with his criminally underrated bass-playing talent. The choreography was so tight. So tight! All of them dressed in their trademark military garb first exhibited on the Victory Tour.
There is no better tribute to Michael Jackson than this – nothing that respects his soul and memory more.
Once the brothers left the stage, the traditional pomp of the Proms began, as people waved their Union Jack flags to the sound of the traditional anthems.
And with the prospect of the United Kingdom one day having a pacifist as its leader, even I – say it quietly – felt what I think might have been a burgeoning stirring of national pride.
A special day. A day of supporting and celebrating peace and justice.
A day of honouring heroes.
Italian translation available here: http://amzn.to/1O85aRV