The Brott Music Festival and the National Academy Orchestra presented an evening of the late Michael Jackson’s music. They were aided by the Jeans ‘n Classics Band and Gavin Hope as lead singer. Brendan Hagan, this year’s apprentice conductor, led the orchestra. Shakespeare wrote “The evil that men do live after them; the good is oft interred with their bones” [Julius Caesar, III, sc. 2] With Jackson; it seems the opposite is proving true!
The music was presented chronologically beginning with some of the Jackson Five hits like ‘I Want You Back’, ‘ABC’ and the very nostalgic ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’.
Then we moved to ‘Rockin Robin’ and several hits from the ‘Off the Wall’ album. During the first half the audience were fairly quiet and were perhaps like me, mourning the loss of the magic of a Michael Jackson performance. He always seemed so fragile and remote and Gavin Hope could sing the songs but he is more robust and accessible, so it took us a while to get used to that.
A good performer perseveres and that is what happened – Gavin Hope, the three back-up singers, the band and orchestra all gave us really good music and time to get used to their version of Michael’s music. By intermission a few brave souls were dancing in the aisles, including an amazingly agile older gentleman who could really move.
After intermission the audience really connected with and responded to the performers on stage. The three back-up singers – Katalin Kiss, Lis Soderberg and Kathryn Rose – had sass and personality; the Jeans `n Classic Band were fun and the orchestra let loose with some brassy blues in `The Way You Make Me Feel`. Suddenly everyone was having fun; large sections of the audience were dancing and thrilling again to the Thriller album music. We rocked to `Pretty Young Things`, got warm & fuzzy over `Human Nature` and zombied to `Thriller`… and all of a sudden it was over. We did get a lovely encore from musicians who had worked very hard to entertain us and had really succeeded.
Once again a Thrilling evening at Hamilton’s most esteemed summer Festival.