November already? The penultimate month of the year? 2009 nearly down? Well it is a year I am actually looking forward to seeing the back of for many reasons. Perhaps a little too early for a review of the year or even rant of the year. I will save for that sometime next month. Today was the day I finally went to London to see This Is It. My review shortly but first a quick roundup of the weekends activities.
Saturday was not too bad, got up watched television, had some breakfast. Bummed around online for a short time before the North London Derby. I watched episode six of FlashForward but my parents wanted to talk, so I was playing little attention to the dialogue and will have to re-watch the episode in full later this week. Most likely during the day so there are no interruptions. Then it was down to the business of playing our deadliest rivals. I was actually nervous, particularly after throwing away at 4-2 lead last year. However, my nerves were settled before half time. What a game! What a result! Barry had predicted in a comment on my Facebook status that Fabregas would have a blinder, I just did not think a run like Maradona in the 1986 World Cup!
On Friday night I had wanted to catch FlashForward but my sister, Julie wanted to watch Transformers, so I threw it on via the Xbox. I have seen the movie twice (once at the cinema, then again at IMAX). I have then also seen parts as screen on Sky and skipped to my favourite parts on the computer. We started the showing around 10pm and it finished around 12:15am, including breaks to get ice cream. The movie was as great as ever and I had a sudden urge to watch the sequel there and then. I will be patient and wait for the trilogy DVD box set (hopefully by then I will be buying on BluRay!)
Pav got his iPhone last Tuesday (27th) and had to send me a photograph of him reading my blog. It was an historic moment in our friendship. Ever since I have known him, over eleven (yes eleven) years we have always both had Nokia handsets. Usually the same models. It all began back in 1998 when we both had the amazing 6110. Perhaps still one of the best mobile phones I have ever learnt. It was until October last year when we both owned a N73 before my upgrade to my current E65. However, we were still with the same brand. Recently, following a test drive on the iPhone through a friend, Pav had his heart set on one and upgrade last week. While I agree that the phone has a few benefits, I still believe it is more of a fashion accessory than a decent mobile device. Although I have tried to make my phone more of a personal organiser (to sync with Outlook) I never put enough information in the PIM to make it worth while. All I need on a phone in reality is wireless connectivity and I have that with the E65 and it is great to be able to check my mail while in the lounge. (Well until Santa brings me a netbook!) Thank you but I will be sticking with the Finnish manufacturer for the rest of my life. If I was to switch, which is extremely unlikely, it would be a HTC device with Android!
I got back to the house around 19:20 just in time to watch Harry Hill’s TV Burp. Excellent as always, this is just the warm up act for The X Factor. I have to be honest, I now just look forward to JEdward’s peformance to see how crinch worthy it can be. Afterwards we watch the new Impressionist show on BBC1 which was very good. I then retired to my room to get on with some things. For some unknown reason I suddenly was enthused with energy and got various tasks completed including updating the blog and organising various other geeky things. I finally went to bed around 3am, knowing I had to be up relatively early on Sunday for my day out.
I got up around 9am during breakfast, I watched Smooth Criminal (it was being shown on one of the music channels). As my Mum was awake, I showed her the trailer (below) via the XBox to show her what I was going to be watching that evening. She was surprised at how well he moved for someone just a few years younger than her. I bummed around online before getting ready. I was listening to non-stop Michael Jackson on the Squeezebox! I eventually had a shower around 11.30am before heading out just after midday. My plan was to get into London for around 2pm and meet up at Paddington station. I knew I would make it in plenty of time, I just did not know my friend would be nearly thirty minutes late but never mind. I parked my car at the station, got my ticket from the one “Time Machine” that was working and then headed for the platform. I missed the 12:36 by a minute. If I had run, I would have made it but I was not in a hurry. Just as I got up to platform three, the train pulled away. Never mind, my next pressure issue was the fact that the seal for one of my ear phones was missing. While not a major problem, it annoyed me because I had fixed the earphones the previous evening. I looked around for the seal and then came to the conclusion that I had just left it on my desk in my room. The next train was at 12:55, I had a while to wait and listened to my mp3 player, I had charged and added new songs yesterday. These include Britney Spears – “3” and Whatcha Say by Jason Derulo.
I got to 13:58 as I walked onto the Paddington Concourse. I had a little wait but kept listening to my music before finally meeting up with my friend. We had a drink in Starbucks at the station before heading to the O2. We headed to the ticket machine to collect our tickets but the machine was out of paper, I assume. So we had to head upstairs, queue with people wanting jumbo popcorn and then get tickets. As they had already been issued (according to the computer). I had to wait for a manager (who looked about 17) to come over and sign off the reprinted tickets which were then finally issued. We then headed off for a late lunch. The Haha restaurant was right opposite the entrance to The Michael Jackson Exhibition. There was quite a queue outside, so we got some food and thought if we had time we would pop in and look around. The film showing was not until 19:30, so we had plenty of time on our hands. In the restaurant, they were playing back to back MJ! It was the perfect atmosphere for a Michael Jackson day!
An Asian couple were sitting the other side of the restaurant next to us and my friend asked if the exhibition was worth going to see (the giveaway was the official exhibition bag the girl had sitting by her). They recommended it but said it would take two hours to go around because it was so busy. We would be able to squeeze it in if the waitress was quick processing our bill.
Our tickets were printed at 17:37 and we headed straight in pretty much after we were cleared by the Chinese man at the door. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. We watched a short film with strobe lighting before going through to the actual exhibition itself. It was amazing with some really interesting facts and artifacts. The original recording contract signed with MoTown Records and signed in May 1970 by Joseph Jackson. There was even the handwritten lyrics by Michael for Beat It! The most touching and perhaps most emotional to see were his designed costumes for the concerts. Brand new outfits for all his big numbers, Beat It, Billie Jean and Smooth Criminal. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed at the exhibition but more reason for you to come down to the O2 and see for yourself. (Although some people have been able to sneak a few pictures and upload them to FlickR)
There was a cabinet with all his awards, Guinness World Records, American Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, there could have been more but only a handful have been selected by the estate, including the odd Grammy! You can view some behind the scenes photographs and updates on their official Facebook page. The final part, was details of the shows. Copies of all the different versions of the tickets had been framed and placed on a wall at the last room. I wondered for a split second how it would have been holding those tickets for 18th July 2009. There was a mock up of the stage in a model. MJ had even wanted a video of Vincent Price played during the Thriller performance. There was a book of condolences or rather several books which I signed (once I found a working pen) and left my personal note to the King Of Pop). The final article was the world famous sequinned white glove. We then headed for the exit and the souvenir shop. This perhaps hurt, all the merchandise that would have been sold during the concerts was now being re-used in his memory. Many people will say that this is just sheer profiteering out of a dead artist’s legacy. To a certain extent I agree but when it is someone so important and so significant, it is not about the money. It is about having a memory and perhaps even buying a piece of the magic. While a younger me, may have been tempted to buy a t-shirt, bag or hat, there was no need. I had the movie to look forward to, I had the memory of him and the music. Plus, I had the memories of his visit to Earls Court almost exactly three years earlier.
It only took us an hour to get around, it was not that busy, being quite well into a Sunday evening, most people would have come first thing and now be on their journeys home. We had a good hour to kill before the movie and went for a walk outside before taking a seat on the comfy sofa’s outside screen eleven. Slowly a large queue formed, with some forty minutes to go before the movie started. We could hear some of the MJ classics playing in the auditorium and I felt a bit of a buzz when I heard Human Nature. I remember getting home from work and watching the trailer on YouTube. I instantly updated both my Facebook and Twitter feeds with one of Michael’s lines. I had been looking forward to this precise moment for months and was glad I had been persuaded to come all the way to London’s O2 (the world’s best venue apparently!) rather than go to see it at Reading, even if I would have seen it sooner, it was well worth the wait and the company.
We eventually were allowed in at around 19:20 and I found seats perfectly in the middle, although a few rows higher would have improved the view but only slightly. I was all set, phone was off. Then Asteroid came on. This was definitely going to be it.It was an amazing concert movie. I loved every second, it was a pleasure and an honour to watch a musical genius still wanting to push the barriers of what is possible with a stage show. Even at sixty percent, the King Of Pop was still at the top of his game, saving his voice for the actual concerts, his moves were as mesmerising as ever. He was at times out dancing his backing dancers, most of whom you would imagine were half his age! The shelf life for a dancer is around 27/28, so for Michael Jackson to still be able to pull off his signature moves and keep up the stamina to perform such an elaborate show would have wowed the fans and even the skeptics. Highlights for me were Human Nature (most of which has already been used in a TV spot for the movie trailer) Beat It, Smooth Criminal and even Billie Jean. The performance of Beat It (my favourite MJ track, but I am sure you knew that already) was absolutely breathtaking. The new jacket was going to be set alight at the end of what would have been a memorable showcase. Michael was forever the showman and to see his ideas, even in this rather raw, rough cut format was great. I loved the intro scene to Smooth Criminal with Humphrey Bogart chasing and shooting at Michael before he smashes through a window! In 3D that would have been something else. I could keep writing about this movie but I do not want to spoil it for anyone who is yet to venture to the cinema. Plus my words are nothing in comparison to the watching the movie for yourself. Trust me, better to watch it now at the cinema, it will not be the same on DVD when it is released next year (even if you have a 50″ plasma television like my best friend Dave). If I had one criticism of the movie, it would be that I would have wanted some of the more recent material included. There are a few seconds of Speechless (perhaps my favourite song from the Invincible album) at the outset. I am just trying to picture how Unbreakable or You Rock My World could have been performed. It would have been out of this world. During the closing credits, I wondered what could have been and felt empty. The concert would have been taking place just a few feet away behind the screen I was watching. The greatest concert ever – the world is never going to get to see!