Review: Thriller Live

Thriller Live. Pic: Comp
Thriller Live. Pic: Comp
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IT’S the second time I’ve seen Thriller Live - and I still can’t figure out if it’s a jukebox musical, a glorified karaoke session, or an X-Factor quarter-final tribute to the King Of Pop.

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Festival Theatre

Whatever it is, though, it remains a certifiable homage to Michael Jackson, the entertainer, rather than the eccentric personality.

Unfortunately, that eccentricity has moon-walked its way out of this production, replaced instead by some stock bio narration (during the first half) about the Jackson 5 and Jackson’s meteoric rise to fame and fortune. The rest of it is strictly come dancing (and singing).

Given this was a Monday night, the Festival Theatre wasn’t exactly shaking its body down to the ground, either, although a spirited attempt at audience participation early on did, at least, get everyone up on their feet for a wee boogie. And yes, someone even turned up wearing Jackson’s trademark red ‘n’ black leather suit.

As the show’s title suggests, however, the production’s highlights revolve around the songs from 1983’s Thriller album.

‘Vincent Price’, whose voice resonated so atmospherically on the original hit single, puts in an audio appearance early doors, too, although it would have been nice to hear some of Jackson’s later period material and lesser-known songs as well.

Because the dynamic flow of the show is fairly consistent throughout – the production values on song two or three for example is much the same during song 12 or 13 – the highlights boil down to solo performances. Case in point, She’s Out Of My Life which, ironically, doesn’t feature any dancing, fancy lighting or glitz.

And that’s the measure of Jackson’s musical output, he might have been associated with outlandishly expensive productions that would make Lady GaGa ga-ga, but the quality and timelessness of his songs remain strong even when sung with just an acoustic guitar for company. Or in this case, a super-tight, super-funky live band.

All in all, it’s fun, undemanding, easy-on-the-eye stuff. The dancers pop, lock and generally glide their way through it all without dropping a single smile. But really, it’s for fans only.

n Run ends Saturday