Thursday, March 27, 2014

Michael Jackson The Immortal Tour - Cirque de Soleil

Desiree Bassett (non-Cirque de Soleil)
Julia goes to various events with one of her teen groups, and the most recent one was to see Cirque de Soleil's "Michael Jackson the Immoral Tour" last night in Philadelphia. None of us had ever seen a Cirque de Soleil show, but everybody seems to rave about them, so we all got tickets and went.

I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but assumed there would be lots of acrobatics and costumes involved. As it turns out, that much was true, but it was different than that; better in some ways but a tiny bit disappointing in others. On the plus side, it was a live music concert with a full (and very good) band of perhaps 12 musicians. The costumes were nice overall, and in some cases very cool (such as LED light-up suits in the dark). The acrobatics were excellent, but somewhat predictable and got a little boring after two hours. The stage show was OK, with some bits that were pretty flat. The show relied very much on a ton of video shown on screens, dropdowns, pop ups and sheets all throughout the show. In other words, it was a Cirque de Soleil show. Despite a few lulls in the show, I can certainly see why people have so many good things to say about these productions.

Desiree Bassett in costume
The best aspect of the show for me was a terrific live band, with a very good lead guitarist (who I looked up after the show and found to be a 22-year old young lady named Desiree Bassett). I wouldn't say I am a big Michael Jackson fan, but there is no denying the amount of "everybody knows that song" music that he created, and certainly there were no shortage of great songs for them to pick from. It was Greatest Hits in a way, and performed very well, with a singer who sounded very much like Jackson.

I don't think I would have minded at all if they skipped the video, the costumes and the acrobatics and simply did the concert piece with the band front and center (instead of behind screens and in the dark much of the time). I understand, of course, that my take on this would be different from pretty much everybody else, who would not pay a lot of money to go to a Cirque de Soleil show and then hope that the acrobats and other performers would get out of the way of the musicians. But...

As for Desiree Bassett, there are a ton of YouTube videos out there of her playing with all sorts of famous people from about the age of 15 on. She certainly seems like a very marketable package; a very good musician with nice stage presence, not to mention attractive (although I can't say that the furry headdress thing from the show is really my thing).

A few video clips of Desiree Bassett:
  • Performing Layla in 2008 (at the age of 16)
  • Performing Peace of Mind with Boston in 2011 (at the age of 19)
  • In the 10 minute long Cirque de Soleil promo video (this clip also gives a terrific overview of what this show was all about). Bassett and her crazy fake hair are shown clearly, if briefly, during the Billy Jean segment of this video at the 9:30, 9:50 and 10:15 marks. Also shown in this sequence is Mariko, an electric cellist who was also amazing.
Despite being a late evening for the kids, they both loved it, as did Amp and I. We all had different favorite parts, but it was well worth the expensive tickets.

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