*It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what sent the Planet Hollywood audience at The Jacksons show in Las Vegas into frenzy so quickly. At the time of this writing, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon were in the second week of a 40-date show of their RockTellz & CockTails residency.
It could’ve been the pose each brother struck while standing in silhouetted silence behind the sheer, picturesque screen as seen in the picture below. Or the dramatic thump that landed on our ears as each step lit up when the brothers’ descended in unison.
Then again, maybe it was that “Superhero” stance that Jermaine does. You know – the one with the clinched fist, arm outstretched and slightly raised, which happens instantaneously when that awesome hook to “Can You Feel It?” comes on! Yeah, that one in the picture directly below.
But it was probably the sunglasses thing – where the brothers slowly and in sync, remove their signature sunglasses right before breaking the spell and taking us to another level of awesome.
Whatever it was, it was clear from the get-go, that these showman came to deliver.
And Can You Feel It? was the perfect song to open with.
You sing! DaDaDa…DaDaDa….Daaaa!
The audience went nuts .
The Jacksons are, no doubt, the most famous entertainment family in the world. They have nine number-one hits and 14 top-10 hits; and they’ve been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But still, I’d be less than truthful if I didn’t admit I was a bit nervous for them in Vegas.
The last time I saw The Jacksons was the last time they performed with their late brother, Michael Jackson. It was in New York City, 2001, for the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special at Madison Square Garden. Since I hadn’t attended their Unity Tour, (2012, the first tour The Jacksons did since Michael’s passing) this would be the first time I’d see them without the front man we had all become accustomed to.
Fortunately, my doubts, and I’m sure the doubts of everyone there who felt the same way, were quickly laid to rest .
Its a great show and I would go back again.
The full-blown concert is interactive and engaging; with a big-screen where folks like Motown’s Berry Gordy shared memories of meeting, signing and working with the boys. And the stage is designed so that the performers can walk out into the audience (and the fellas use it well, shaking hands with ever-so-grateful fans sitting close enough).
The Jacksons also perform a lot of the music fans have come to know and love. In addition to Can You Feel It, they do Blame It On The Boogie, I Want To Be Where You Are, Let Me Show You The Way and even some of Michael’s music, Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ and Rock With You – which was a surprise. I actually found myself wondering how The King of Pop, bless his perfectionist soul, would feel about it.
You could hear a pin drop when Jermaine sang “Gone Too Soon” (another MJ song from the Dangerous CD) as a huge picture of Michael loomed on the screen in the background. (See photos below)
This lovely gesture was also performed by Jermaine at MJ’s Staples Center memorial. Remember?
It was cool to see each of the brothers taking part in some sort of lead at one time or another; whether it was a song or sharing a story. Yet I do wish the audio – which consistently overpowered whoever was singing lead – would’ve been more flexible volume-wise.
Fellas, anyone who expects you to sound just like the record at this stage of the game has probably watched “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” one too many times.
Just sayin’…in the event it was intentional.
Marlon has turned into quite the dancer too (Sidebar: for those who remember the 1991 movie, The Jacksons: An American Dream ) Marlon, 57, was the one who had the most trouble getting the dance steps down. He has evolved into a great performer (and with all due respect to wife Carol, Marlon, us women truly appreciate that sexy thing you do – covering a portion of your face or placing a hand behind your head when you’re really feeling the groove. It works! (See ‘Superhero’ photo above to get my drift!).
But it was Jermaine, 59, who seemed to be in a lead position by default from the start. There always seemed to be a space between him and his brothers. Don’t believe me? Check out the “Silhouette” picture above. (Sidebar: Fans might recall MJ’s words in some of his rare video interviews, “Jermaine is always to my left.”) Perhaps this is still the case – that space is permanently reserved for Michael, to whom homage was paid throughout the show.
Heck, Jermaine’s pants was even a different style than the others! And I do hope ‘that slight, yet distracting imperfection’ on the left leg has been adjusted.
But it is in the stories that the newer Jackson fans especially will revel. And the brothers appear to have fun interacting with each other as they sit on the stools and reminisce about their youth.
Whether it’s the nail-biting tale Tito, 60, tells about what led family patriarch Joe Jackson, to learn that he actually could play the guitar; or Marlon’s story of how he got hit by a car while fulfilling a young Michael’s request to get him candy from the store – both are funny and poignant.
A lot has changed in both music and technology and Marlon and Jackie Jackson took time out to meet with journalist DeBorah B. Pryor and give a shout out to EURweb, where she serves as contributing writer and editor.
Unfortunately, the poor audio on the main device I used (iPad) did not transmit well for the actual interview and I am unable to show the footage I captured. I know, darn it!!! But the short video below was captured on a smart phone (I know, I should’ve used IT for the entire interview). Hindsight Aaarrrgh!!!
The Jacksons shoutout to EURweb readers:
Below, Pryor talks with the brothers on the set their Rocktellz and Cocktails show at Planet Hollywood and asks them about the challenges of being legendary. Note: The Jacksons manager, Rick Barlow, curtailed what I could talk about with the brothers; most notably, he asked me not to talk about “family stuff.”
Jackie Jackson on being legendary:
Well, there’s a lot of work being recording artists, entertainers. Being who we are…It don’t come easy. We do a lot of interviews; meeting fans around the world, a lot of traveling. Its very tedious.
Marlon on the expectations people have of The Jacksons
I …believe it comes from my father rehearsing us in Gary Indiana, to make sure everything is correct. Its just something that we do now. We always give over a hundred percent. We like to try and do our best. And we want to give the fans a great show. We appreciate the support.
You’re right, people do expect more from us as Jacksons because we’ve set certain standards in this music industry. Sometimes its kind of hard to top what you did last time but we always figure it out…People always expect a lot when it comes to this family.
Jackie on using social media
Yes, we try to use social media as much as we can. But it changes so often. You try to keep up with everything. Every time you turn around there’s something else. You get used to this going, and here comes something else. We use Twitter and everything to interact with the fans. Our PR person kind of helps with that because sometimes its hard for the artist to do but we do as much as we can.
Marlon on the benefits of social media
I think social media is that missing link for this industry because a while back – to keep in touch with your fans abroad – we had to use fan mail and it took time to get from one place to the other, but with social media, it’s instantaneous, you can keep in contact, videos, whatever, all the different things that you can create and keep in touch with your fans and let them know what you’re doing, what you’re up to (and Jackie chimes in) where you are, when you’re coming. Marlon concludes: It’s that missing link that this industry desperately needed from my perspective in regards to keeping in touch with your fan base…It’s a great piece.
Jackie on the music and artists he likes today.
I like music today, there’s a lot of great artists out there. There’s Bruno Mars, a lot of great bands, Beyonce and Katy Perry…And then you see people like Pharrell out there doing music, but he’s going back to the old school with his sound.
Marlon interjects: He’s starting to make that full circle. Jackie: He’s starting to come back to the old school…because [people can’t] get used to the electronic sound and the club sound so much, so they want to get back to real music like it was back in the day. So it’s starting to come back around.
Both brothers appreciate that music is coming full circle. Marlon states, music was more personal back in the day then. They admit they are happy about the turn-around.
Marlon: [Back then] it was real people playing the instruments. It wasn’t mechanically done, which makes it personal, which makes the pulse of the beat change slowly but stay within the pocket. If you understand what I’m saying (he laughs). I answered “yes I do”…But I didn’t. Sorry Marlon, musician talk, I guess!
With music today, Jackie says, even the “not so great” singers can be made to sound great with all the electronic gadgets.
Now, I don’t know if he meant to imply that this is the case with Robin Thicke and his song, “Blurred Lines,” but Jackie didn’t skip a beat between what he was saying and who was on his mind when he said it.
Jackie: Also you can make a singer that’s not such a great singer…[sound] great…with all the electronic things they have out.
Marlon interjects “That’s today!”
Jackie continues: Just like Robin Thicke and the song he has called, Blurred Lines. It’s coming back to where it used to be and people like that. All those songs I mentioned are big sellers today. Its called “The real deal.”
On artists they wouldn’t mind collaborating with…
Jackie: First, let me say this, we’ve always collaborated. Michael has always collaborated on his albums, his big albums.
Marlon interjects, “And we did the Stevie Wonder song.”
Jackie continues: There’s nothing wrong with collaborations; bringing people together. They even do it in families…People want to see more. People don’t have the money so if you give them more there’s a chance you might have a hit.
Bruno Mars, we’d love to collaborate with him, Pharrell or anyone like that. Beyonce.
Are you speaking of collaborating as The Jacksons or individually
Jackie: Well, I’m talking about “The Jacksons” right now because we’re focusing on The Jacksons and that’s what we’re doing right now, right Marlon.
The Jacksons say they worked around the clock, almost 24-7 putting the Las Vegas concert together over a period of 3-1/2 weeks. After the 40-date residency in Las Vegas ends, the brothers will go to Europe and perform all over, including dates in Monte Carlo, Germany, and Paris.
I couldn’t let them go without asking what advice they would give to some of the “bad boys” or wanna-be bad boys (“ah hem”) in the news toda.
DBP: I know of several artists out there that need a good talking to. Marlon interjects, “That’s funny the way you put that (mimics me) ‘Need a good talking to.'” I continue, Justin Bieber, I’m gonna name some names: Chris Brown. These are two people who I know loved Michael and I wonder what Michael would say about some of their actions today. I am not asking you to speak for Michael, but what guidance would you give them?
“We happen to know Justin Bieber,” says Jackie. He lives in the same neighborhood that we live in. We …know Chris Brown. He comes over and visits my mom a lot, says hello to my mom. They’re good friends of ours and I…think that you should give advice to people like that because if something ever happened to them you’d be like ‘God, I wish I’d had a chance to sit down and talk [with them] but then its too late.”
“So I think its time to sit down and talk and be like ‘Man, just love the music and keep your personal life behind closed doors. Just be kind to your fans. Its unnecessary to do the things that you’re doing. The fans love you out there. The kids love you. Just do it for the love of the music.”
Marlon: And if that talking doesn’t work, then just ship them a six-pack of Joe Jackson, over there (nods to indicate Mr. Jackson has just entered the room).
What they want their fans to know now, moving forward…
“I just want them to know that we love them. They’ve supported us from day one,” says Jackie. They always give us moral support and we thank them for that. We have incredible fans, and we will continue to integrate with them and stay in touch with them with music and as much as we can. We love them.”
Finally, I asked Marlon what was the most challenging part of his brother, Michael, not being here.
His voice falters slightly, “For me the biggest challenge is that when we have family events, you know for sure he’s not going to be there. Before, he might not show up, some members might not come. But now you know…he’s not going to be there. That’s a pretty big challenge for me.”
Jackie adds, “And even on stage, no one will ever duplicate what Michael did on stage. He is who he is. But we always feel his spirit on stage with us. All the time. He’s Michael Jackson, one of the greatest things that did what he did. (Smiles and looks at the stage as if seeing Michael). He’s always with us on the stage. We always know at any given time where he’ll be. He’s always in the house with us when we’re performing. We always feel his presence all the time.”
DBP: We feel it too. Thank you, gentlemen.
I encourage everyone to take a day trip to Las Vegas and make it a point to see this incredible show – done by master showmen who know the true meaning of real entertainment. The Jacksons are classy, elegant, energetic and engaging. They pay beautiful homage to the late Michael Jackson and the music, which encompasses a significant portion of their massive library – will have you up dancing almost involuntarily!
RockTellz & CockTails Presents The Jacksons will be performed Thursday – Sunday inside the PH Showroom at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino from Feb. 20 to April 27. All shows begin at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $54, $59, $79, $99 and $129 plus tax and applicable fees. An exclusive meet and greet package, including a souvenir photo, VIP laminate and The Jacksons merchandise, is available for an additional $400 plus tax and applicable fees on any ticket level. RockTellz & CockTails Presents The Jacksons is an all-ages show. All tickets can be purchased in-person at the Planet Hollywood Box Office or through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com. For groups of 10 or more, please call (702) 785-5394 or (866) 633-0195. For more information and a complete show schedule, visit www.RockTellz.com.
This article was written by DeBorah B. Pryor.