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Michael Jackson Forever Tribute Concert: A Fitting Tribute or a Money Spinner? (Feature)

Monday, 15 August 2011 Written by Elliott Batte
The Michael Forever Tribute Concert: A Fitting Tribute or a Money Spinner?

The 'Michael Forever' tribute concert that is set to take place at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on October 8th, which Stereoboard has been closely following, has outraged fans of the late King of Pop. Some Michael Jackson fans believe their loyalty and love for their idol has made them easy targets for the money-hungry organisers of the gig, and the Jackson family members openly supporting the concert.

Jackson fans wanting to attend the massive Cardiff concert, which Michael’s mother Katherine described as 'the one and only official Michael Jackson tribute concert', will have to fork out a minimum of £55 (which will get you a seat with very restricted views at the back of the stadium). Fans that want to apply for the most sought after tickets, such as those in the middle tier of the stadium, which will set you back over £175, must also make a charity donation pledge if they want to qualify for a ticket. Those wanting tickets are being asked to register their details at the official Michael Forever tribute website before tickets officially go on sale, thought to be this Thursday August 18th. Michael Jackson Forever tribute concert tickets will then be allocated, to those that have pre-registered their interest, in a ballot system. Fans that want to buy tickets in a sought after area of the stadium, such as the middle tier, are likely to have to pay over £350 for a pair of tickets + fees, delivery charges and of course that charity pledge.

Standing tickets for the gig start at £97, whereas middle-tier seated tickets will cost fans a massive £175. And for those die-hard Michael maniacs, 'Golden Circle' (standing tickets - very close to the stage) tickets will cost an astonishing £195 each. Meanwhile, the most expensive tickets in the stadium will set you back a monstrous £240 - that's for premium seats in the middle tier of the venue. And this is all before you pay the un-fixed pledge that you previously promised when applying for tickets - which is most likely to be a high amount after organisers decided to give those who promised the largest donations a higher chance of receiving the most sought after tickets for the concert.

ImageMichael Jackson Forever Tribute Concert Ticket Prices:

Premium Middle Tier - £240.00
Golden Circle Standing - £195.00
Standard Middle Tier - £175.00
Premium Upper Tier - £137.00
Pitch Standing + Upper Tier - £97.00
Standard Seated - £87.00
Restricted View - £55.00

As angering as the move was, some fans did see the decision as at least a means of donating more money to charity - but it's now emerged that the money raised from ticket sales will NOT be going to the charities, but only the money that ticket-buyers have pledged to donate. This means the organisers of the concert, Global Live Events, are likely to pocket a whopping £9million from ticket sales alone. Obviously this will be offset by the costs of hiring the stadium, hiring the acts to perform on the day and putting on the show - but it’s expected that the sale of global TV rights for the event will dwarf any revenues raised from expected ticket sales! The event's organisers had previously alluded that proceeds from the concert would go to MJ's favourite charities, but increasingly vocal fans believe the event to be nothing more than a substantial one-off money spinner for the Jackson family, off the back of Michael Jackson's world renowned name and fan goodwill, while marketed to fans as a ‘fitting tribute’ to the King of Pop.

Michael Jackson fans are also highly suspicious of the motives behind the organisation putting together such a cultural world event, and its unknown background has come under the spotlight. Global Live Events were registered as a UK limited company only on March 29th 2011. Though most people were expecting to find a company promoting such a world-wide Michael Jackson tribute spectacular to be a hugely established concert promoter with plush city offices and years of experience organising such events, it has since emerged that Global Live Events' offices are nothing more than an apartment above a bar (Bar Humbug) in a "modest" outskirt of Bristol. Possibly not the perfect headquarters to be organising the biggest live event ‘the world has ever seen’.

The promoters have also worked their hardest to ensure that their show is considered, like Katherine Jackson said, as the 'official' Michael Jackson tribute concert - but it’s also true that the organisers have no support from MJ's estate, and no clearance to use Michael Jacksons name and image in the promotion of the event. His estate, in fact, was unaware of the planned show until it was announced at a L.A. press conference last month and it received massive popularity from news organisations, especially in the US. They said: "The estate has not been contacted and is not involved with Global Live Events in the UK tribute concert announced today." Chris Hunt, a director of Global Live Events, was also reported to have presented Katherine Jackson with a $100,000 cheque for the trust funds of Michael's children - which they can access when they turn 21. A friendly gesture indeed, but a move that is perceived by fans as having other motives, especially considering the vast inheritance due to Jackson's three children.

Global Live Events have also angered fans by scheduling (or hiring?) the likes of Christina Aguilera, Leona Lewis, JLS and Craig David - artists who have, in all honesty, no real link to Michael Jackson and are purely there to shift tickets. The artists could have been paid upfront for appearing at the concert, meaning they would be contracted to play there, and in a very likely case that fans simply do not want to buy tickets after learning of the line-up (which is not the 'sensational' bill the promoters promised), the artists would be paid for by the vast amount of money that could be generated for the TV rights in different countries across the world. In fact, a deal is being manufactured in the states to LiveStream the event to arenas across the States, so fans that can’t afford to fly across to the UK still get a chance to see the concert on TV.

There are some fans that will want to ignore and not attend this Michael Jackson concert purely because Jackson’s estate isn’t endorsing it – and that’s fair enough for any die-hard MJ lovers who simply want the best for Jackson himself – his name remembered, and his family respected. With the family split over the concert, and no support from the estate, some fans won’t see the gig as a tribute to the star at all and simply won’t go. This, combined with the lacklustre acts announced for the gig, could leave the ‘ultimate’ Jackson tribute concert without the scores of Jackson fans it wanted and instead full of JLS, Craig David and Christina Aguilera fans. Furthermore, the Jackson estate IS endorsing a different MJ tribute event – the Cirque du Soleil tour, which begins in October later this year and continues through North America until next year. With the support of Michael’s estate, this tour could over-shadow and eclipse the ‘Michael Forever’ with ease – especially if the tour comes to the UK.

Let’s make one thing clear though, Global Live Events are a business. They exist and operate to make a profit, which they should achieve handsomely with this concert. Fans however have legitimate concerns that the promoters have taken advantage of the star's tragic death, and gained global attention for the scheduling of the event, which saw Cardiff appear in the news all over the world. The concert has received support from celebrities and the Jackson family, to the extent where even MJ's mother Katherine, and some of his siblings, are firmly behind the gig. It is only brothers Jermaine and Randy, who are against the event - and that's because it overlaps with the trial of Conrad Murray, the doctor who prescribed and gave MJ the medicine which is believed to have caused his death. Most notably though is the lack of support from the estate. One would have thought any official tribute concert would surely have the support from the estate, setup to look after the interest’s of MJ, post-death.

Fans have been voicing their critisms about the concert, with James Gonzalez Sauret writing on the Michael Forever Facebook page, "Michael deserves much more than this bullshit.. don't expect to sell many tickets!!".

Another user, CasuMarzu wrote: "Tribute? More like the sounds of cash registers ringing. These vultures might as well dig him back up and do a thriller show" while Jarrod Morrison raged: "They dont care about us. they will do anything for money even sell there (sic) soul to the devil. MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY."

Toni Bolivar said: "I think the organizers will soon find out they bit more than they can chew... We are first and foremost MICHAEL JACKSON FANS. We are NOT Jacksons' fans. Our allegiance is to Michael...and Michael alone. We will not support this farce...and i hope more fans speak up & speak out against you making a mockery of MJ's 40-year legacy."

And finally regarding the disappointing lineup, Paul Harold muses, “What a crap line up so far, for the amount of money you are charging fans, where are the real stars?”

Victor O'Brien, though, really summed up the affair with his stinging comments on the Facebook page.

"Big line up? seriously?" O'Brien wrote. "Big line up in today and in our galaxy would be the likes of beyonce, lady gaga, u2, elton john, kanye west, eminem, justin bieber, usher, drake, katy perry etc. Most of the acts that you listed, haven't done anything significant for last 5-10 years, so be realistic and stop calling them a big line up.

"If you want to see big line ups google freddy mercury tribute concert and concert for diana. and ticket prices for those were only £25 and £45 respectively.

"Tickets for freddy mercury tribute sold out in 2 hours and Diana tribute sold out in 20 minutes."

One doubt that remains though, with tickets yet to go on sale, is whether or not the concert will even go ahead.

I'm sure our readers can piece together their own conclusion of events - please let us know what you think in the comments below.

UPDATE: After publication, an announcement was made that US rock band KISS had been added to the lineup, causing further controversy after controversial comments made by KISS bassist Gene Simmons to Classic Rock magazine in February 2010. The Michael Jackson estate is said to be outraged by the announcement, and will be making an official statement this evening.

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