|(Peter Turchet photo)
RAMA, Ont. - Not touring for nearly three decades is bound to lead to some cobwebs.
But aside from a few technical difficulties and the occasional pitch problem, The Jacksons 2012 Unity Tour - their first since 1984’s Victory Tour - launched at Casino Rama on Wednesday night with better than expected results and without the lightning in the bottle that was Michael Jackson.
After a false start opening with a soundless video montage of The Jackson 5 as it used to be with little bro Michael (who was a major presence through the night via stills and video and an actual tribute segment) - the four remaining Jackson brothers kicked off their 95-minute show with Can You Feel It.
Backed by nine musicians - Jackie, 61, Tito, 58, Jermaine, 57, and Marlon, 55 - were otherwise front and centre, busting some familiar dance moves through early songs Blame It On The Boogie and Rock With You before sitting on stools and chatting to each other in a more slowed down second quarter.
“How you feeling?” said Marlon, who shared lead vocals with Jackie and Jermaine (the strongest voice of the bunch) and Tito, the latter who also played guitar.
Judging from the crowd who quickly gathered at the front of the stage, the audience of 4,500 (just shy of a sell-out), was feeling good.
Marlon explained how he got the far-flung brothers back together, saying Tito was into building cars at the time.
“Marlon, I was building my third son when you called me - get it right,” interrupted Tito with a smile.
The tribute to Michael came in the otherwise uptempo third quarter full of old Motown classics I Want You Back, ABC and Never Can Say Goodbye, as Jermaine took over lead vocals on Gone Too Soon while stills of Michael were shown on a video screen above the drummer and the segment ended with a raised silver sequined glove raised in the air.
“I miss you so much Michael,” one of the brothers later during I’ll Be There which sparked the first crowd singalong.
Then Jermaine was briefly given the solo spotlight for a trio of songs, Dynamite, Let’s Get Serious - which saw him pick up a bass - and Do What You Do before the brothers returned with the final uptempo segment and couple of Michael Jackson classics, Wanna Be Starting Something and Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, which really got the audience up and dancing.
The final song of the night was a Jacksons chestnut, Shake Your Body, and by that time pretty much everyone in the building was obeying that command.
Marlon turned out to the group’s live wire with Tito commenting: “My brother the dancing machine. Just wind him up.”
Can You Feel It
Blame It On The Boogie
Wanna Be Where You Are
Rock With You
Let Me Show You
Here to Entertain You
Looking Through The Window
Time Waits For No One
Heaven Knows I Love You
Push Me Away
Man of War
Gone Too Soon
I Want You Back
Stop The Love You Save
Never Say Goodbye
All I Do Is Think You
I’ll Be There
Let’s Get Serious
Do What You Do
Can’t Let Her Get Away
Heart Break Hotel
Wanna Be Starting Something
Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough
Shake Your Body