By JAMILA ROBINSON
Without Michael, who would want to see The Jacksons? By the third song, many of the packed crowd at Chastain Park Amphitheatre, including this admitted skeptic, were wondering why they hadn’t gone out on tour sooner.
The Jackson brothers, Jermaine, Marlon, Tito and Jackie, along with their tight band and background singers put on a spectacular scene, getting the audience out of its seats by opening with their 1980 hit “Can You Feel It,” and kept fans screaming, grooving, until their finale, the dancing, shouting “Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground).”
We’d forgotten that it was the Jackson 5 and that the brothers who were all fantastic performers in their own rights. So when Marlon would show off his dance moves, it was a reminder he could hold his own with Michael. Or when Jermaine sang “Let’s Get Serious,” and “Do What You Do” we were reminded that he, too, had a successful solo career.
Rather than simple nostalgia for the white-socked, one-gloved, I (heart) MJ button and faux leather “Beat It” jacket wearers, this concert was more about the experience of the Jacksons in the 1970s and 1980s. When the brothers fired up songs like “Lovely One” and Jackie’s “Time Waits For No One” — tracks from their 1980 “Triumph” album – it was a time to reminisce about the fantastic songs that you would get to know after the needle had drilled skips into “Heartbreak Hotel.”
While the brothers raced through a medley of their early hits, including “ABC” and “The Love You Save” and “I’ll Be There,” they were unconventional with their playlist, picking “Got To Be There” and “I Wanna Be Where You Are,” solo hits for Michael on Motown. It was enough to evoke memories of Michael Jackson’s performances and never drifted into tiresome tribute.
And who better to sing Michael’s hits than his brothers? With the crowd filling in the hee-hees, oohs and shrieks of “Rock With You,” “Don’t Stop to You Get Enough” and “Wanna Be Startin Somethin’,” it was a joyous concert, still magical, even without Michael’s presence.
The Jacksons Unity tour could become a pilgrimage, something akin to the shows that Boomers flock to see year after year, like Phish or Frankie Beverly and Maze, where fans know what to expect, and leave the venue with a dance and a shout.
(Check out more photos from the show in our gallery.)