By Mark Savage
BBC News Entertainment reporter
For hundreds of Michael Jackson fans at Earl's Court in London, today was a red letter day.
Michael Jackson performed with a choir of 50 children
At the World Music Awards, their idol would finally put last year's trial for child abuse behind him and re-assert his position as the King of Pop.
Outside the venue, you could almost taste the excitement. There were hundreds of people dressed as Jackson, leading each other in chants and straining against the barriers for a glimpse of their idol.
Those that did not have tickets were concocting elaborate plans to gatecrash the award ceremony where, it had been announced, Jackson would perform a version of his hit single, Thriller.
"You could pretend to have dropped your contact lens and sneak through," one onlooker advised his friend.
Meanwhile, in the queue, ticket-holders were barely able to contain their excitement.
"I think I'm going to go absolutely mental when I see him," said Suzie Butler, 24, who travelled from Canterbury for the show.
"It's going to take everyone's breath away. People are going to be reminded just how great he is."
Inside the venue, it seemed like everyone had come specifically to see Jackson.
Every pause in the evening's ceremony (and there were many) was soundtracked by shouts of "Michael, Michael".
When host Lindsay Lohan fluffed her lines, she was booed - presumably for delaying the pop star's appearance by a few more precious seconds.
So, when rumours started to circulate that Jackson would not be performing after all, fans were understandably worried.
Jackson was booed for not greeting fans outside the ceremony
"Please let that not be true," said Arif Adam, 24. "He will get the biggest boos if he doesn't perform".
The anxiety was exacerbated when, after a stunning performance by Beyonce, the award show ground to a halt for half an hour.
But, just as people were starting to get restless a voice-over announced a tribute to Michael Jackson's Thriller... performed by Chris Brown.
Emerging in a red and black leather jacket, which was a perfect replica of the one worn by Jackson in the groundbreaking Thriller video, Brown was greeted with deafening screams and a sudden surge towards the stage.
Up in the rafters, one fan dressed as Jackson sang along to the track, holding an imaginary microphone to his lips while performing some of the pop star's legendary dance moves.
And then, at last, came the moment that everyone had been waiting for.
Jordan and Peter Andre were among those who turned up to see Jackson
Following a short introduction from Beyonce, Michael Jackson appeared shyly from the shadows to receive a lifetime achievement award.
"When I recorded Thriller, I had a dream it would become the biggest selling album ever," said the pop star, dressed in a black sequin jacket. "And God has answered my prayers."
The pop star went on to thank his children, his family and his fans for their support.
And then he left the stage.
As Barbados pop star Rihanna took his place, to perform her hit single Unfaithful, she was jeered and booed.
"We're distraught," said Sue Mash, 29.
"People paid hundreds of pounds to see him perform and he didn't even kick out his leg," added her friend Nicholas Onwu, 31.
Then, just as many had given up hope, a 50-stong children's choir filed out and launched into the chorus of We Are The World - the 1985 charity single Jackson wrote with Lionel Richie to help famine relief efforts in Ethiopia.
The pop star joined his choir and sang one or two lines from the song before walking up the catwalk to the centre of the auditorium.
He waved at fans, then removed his jacket and threw it into the crowd.
And that was it. The song faded out, Jackson spent some more time greeting fans, and the show ended.
'Must do better'
While he had delivered a few lines, it was not the song and dance spectacular that many had hoped for.
Jackson picked up an award for selling over 100m albums
"I'm disappointed in Jackson but, hey, he's a legend," pop singer Peter Andre told BBC Radio 1.
"I don't care, he should have sung," interrupted his wife, Jordan.
"He sounded really out of tune."
Fans, too, felt let down.
"He's got to do better than that," said Mr Onwu.
"It was good to see him looking healthy again after the court case but the half-assed attempt at singing was really, really disappointing," said Mr Adam, who had spent £45 on a ticket for the show.
"I nearly paid £100 for tonight and if I had, I would be so, so angry."
Many fans had turned up tonight in T-shirts reading "The King Is Back".
But it seems Jackson still has a long way to go before he can reclaim his throne.
I have to agree with all the negative comments. Lindsay Lohan didn't really host it, she came on 3 times in the entire night and fluffed her lines constantly. MJ's performance was a let down, but the fact that he was on stage was still a highlight.
Also Katie Melua was absolutely amazing,
As was Andrea Bocelli - which coming from someone not a fan of his genre is a big compliment.
Glad I paid £40 and stood a matter of metres away from the stage rather than paying near to £100 to sit up in the gods far away from the stage.
Dan, Elstree, Hertfordshire, UK
After spending over £100 to see my namesake and idol, I was bitterly disappointed in what was a dire 'performance'.
I think I'll change my name to Rihanna who was heavenly.
Michael Jackson, London UK
He was the king. He is the king. Nuff said. I was there in my sequinned glove and mouth mask - but you could still hear me cheering.
Arvinder Mangat, Slough, UK
I was at the awards with my partner. Other than the organisation it was brilliant. The performances were great. Jackson's performance was brilliant, what did people expect?? He didn't say he was going to perform, fans expected him to, if you set your expectations too high you will be disappointed. Great night.
The only reason why I paid £100 was to see Michael perform, and perform he didn't!
When the Thriller song came on, I thought this is what I and every body in the arena had been waiting for, Michael Jackson LIVE! A bit disappointed but nevertheless very please to see him well! Best Wishes MJ.
Huy Nguyen, London
Seeing MJ was mine and my friend's biggest dream as we have been fans ever since we were young. The concert itself was so badly managed, it felt like the whole thing had been put together the night before. Linsay Lohan baffing her lines, constant half hour breaks in between but MJ coming on stage to receive the award was definitely the highlight, his speech although short-lived, was reminiscent of his old days. His imminent exit after this, met with a lot of rightfully disappointed fans. The "big thriller" comeback was nowhere to be seen, and my feeling is that he did not gain any extra fans yesterday, if anything he lost a few.
I would like to say how disappointed I am that you saw Michael's appearance as "disappointing" and that you have reviewed it in a negative way. I was present at the Awards last night, dressed as Michael, and starting many chants. The boos were NOT for Michael. The reason booing occurred inside the arena was that when he had collected his award and made his way backstage, Rihanna came out on stage, much to the disappointment of Michael fans, because we wanted him out on stage for as long as possible.
Lee Burnard, High Wycombe
Last night, Michael walked on stage to accept his award and the sound was deafening. He could barely say anything because it would have been drowned out by the screams from the fans. When he left the stage we all expected him to perform but we were instead given Rihanna, and the disappointment lead to the boos. But she stunned us all with an amazing performance and got the cheers she deserved.
I DID spend £100 on my ticket and it was worth every last penny. Seeing the King of Pop live and in person is something that very few of my generation can say they've done.
Dan Moss, Maidstone, Kent, England
I was overwhelmed at seeing Michael Jackson last night. I was so close to the stage that at the time I didn't really notice he wasn't singing much. It would have been amazing for him to have performed Thriller but just seeing him was enough for me - as it probably was for any Michael fan. It's always been my dream to see Michael Jackson and now I have - it was amazing.
Katy Tanner, Bournemouth
After spending all that time waiting in the queue just to get in and then waiting endlessly for him to come on, I must say it was somewhat of an anti-climax. He did as he always does, smile and say I love you. Well this time it just wasn't enough.
Vince Lee, London