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Sunday, 9 September, 2001, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Press views: Jackson concert
Britney Spears and Jackson at the reunion concert
Britney Spears and Jackson at the reunion concert
Michael Jackson was lauded as a musical superstar on Friday in a tribute concert in New York. Celebrities lined up to sing, dance and pay lip service to his pop career over more than 30 years. But what did music critics make of the concert?

A surreal, yet undeniably captivating evening. If there was any doubt about Jackson's star power, it was erased as a capacity crowd waited anxiously for a glimpse of the King of Pop.

The concert crashed to a low as Marlon Brando took to the stage, mumbling about child poverty, abuse and disease.

It was something the audience didn't want to hear, as boos began to drown Brando out until he said Jackson was donating money to create a children's hospital in Florida. His exit drew another standing ovation.

It was moments like these - plus extended delays - that would plague the three-hour-plus concert until Jackson took the stage.

Then there were the videotaped tributes to Jackson, which lauded him as the "greatest", the "most sensitive", the "most successful" ad nauseum.

But those moments were temporarily forgotten once Jackson appeared on the stage.

Though the sight of him was at times jarring - his pale, surgically altered face seems incapable of showing much expression anymore - his presence was formidable.

At 43 years of age and with more than three decades in the spotlight, Jackson's act may have gotten a bit familiar, but never stale, with enough dazzle to get the most jaded Jackson critics out of their seats. After Jackson's Friday performance, another comeback doesn't seem out of reach.

Nekesa Mumbi Moodyu, AP Music Writer

The show, which started an hour late, featured a who's who of the entertainment business.

Oh, and there was a turn by these middle-aged men, brothers apparently, who once sang in a band called the Jackson five.

Years of physical mutation, the child-abuse scandal, and his obsession with pets and Elizabeth Taylor have turned Jackson's title, King of Pop, into a term of ridicule.

So for his new single and forthcoming album, unconvincingly called Invincible, Jackson is playing for giddy stakes.

Ed Vulliamy, Observer

Jackson starred in his own tribute concert on Friday and brought out the biggest collection of oddballs and misfits this side of a Marilyn Manson gig.

Only the appearance of Britney Spears stopped the whole thing resembling a complete freak show.

Jacko, whose weirdness is well-documented, including cosmetic surgery and skin-lightening, oxygen tents and pet chimps, invited them all along to New York's Madison Square Garden to help celebrate his monumental career.

The 43-year-old turned up fashionably late with best friend and one-time screen siren Liz Taylor, and sat beside his parents Joseph and Katherine and troubled former child star Macaulay Culkin.

The bash saw a host of stars perform some of Jacko's most famous songs, and things started well enough with Usher, Mya and a painfully-thin Whitney performing Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'.

But the crowd soon began to get restless - because of the 15-minute lull between each song.

The biggest cheers came for a reunion of the Jackson Five, who hadn't performed together for over 20 years.

They were joined by Jacko, who put on his trademark single white glove, jacket and hat for Billie Jean and Black And White.

But guests, including producer Quincy Jones, Eminem, David Hasselhoff, Star Trek's William Shatner and Muhammad Ali, were left scratching their heads at what came next.

Godfather star Brando appeared on stage on a sofa, fiddling with his watch and rambling on for minutes about starvation and disease before being booed loudly.

His first album for six years is out next month - expect more freaky events coming your way!

Rav, News of the World

It was supposed to be the King of Pop's triumphant comeback but turned into the shambles of the year.

Michael Jackson's New York concert had a guest-list to die for. But his fans reacted by booing, slow-handclapping and eventually walking out on a singer who was once the biggest star on the planet.

The concert - Jackson's first live performance in a decade - was a frustrating stop-start affair punctuated by lengthy, silent breaks in total darkness.

The effect was to show how out of touch the fallen superstar is with today's music fans.

Despite Friday's all-star line-up, many fans who paid between 35 and 2,000 for tickets were left disillusioned. Within minutes of the four-hour show's start they were booing and slow-handclapping. Many left before the end.

But when the clock struck midnight and the announcer begged the crowd not to go, it was too late. They didn't want to see the all-star finale of We Are The World. But they did vow never to attend another Jacko show.

Annette Witheridge, Sunday Mirror

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