The concert was obviously sold out to a capacity audience of 72,000. This concert was unique, in the sense that it was the first time Michael performed in concert since his Bad tour and the show was full of musical mistakes (as are most new shows) and technical hitches – in my opinion this is what makes this show unique and one of the highlights of the tour.
I didn’t go to this show but I remember it clearly. I now know that my brother secretly flew out to the show on a mission working for Michael and he kept it top secret. I remember him returning home after the show with a pile of newspapers and close up’s of Michael’s face from the start of the show. I was convinced that it was not Michael – He would say, it’s Michael and I would go on to say “no!”. The pictures Daily Mirror pictures were admittedly edited and were forced to offer an apology to Michael. Michael, from this date also banned certain powerful lenses from his shows. This was an exciting time and Michael fever was sweeping the world.
Let’s take a look at some of the fun aspects of the show as well as some of the technical and musical hiccups that contributed to the opening of, in my opinion, the King Of Pop best tours.
Footage from this concert has not been released in full but “Billie Jean” and “Black or White” were broadcast live as well in specials. The UK version was called “Def 2” on the BBC and after showing the songs and a MJ tour special also premièred his short film “Who is it”. The same footage was broadcast in specials in Germany, called “Michael Jackson World Tour Special”, with behind the scenes footage. MTV also followed the tour with a selection of specials and showed some highlights from the opening night. Professionally filmed released portions of the show include: “Billie Jean” in full, “Black or White” in full, “Jam”, in part, “Wanna be starting somethin’, in part, “I just can’t stop loving you”, in part and “Bad” in part.
So … the concert! Michael opened the show in his Black and gold military jacket. The show started with a lot of sunlight so you couldn’t see the lighting as well as later concerts and you could clearly see straight through the staging to the architecture of the Olympic Stadium glass cover, behind it. They had to use a lot of smoke, which poured from the stage. Remembering that this was Michael’s opening night, he had not got into creating a kind of “freestyle” routine for the beginning of “Jam”, and he stood in one spot, as opposed to later in the tour, walking up and down the stage a lot. Although Michael mimed the song, you can clearly hear the added “he he’s” toward the end of the song, which was unique to this concert.
The second song of the concert was “Wanna be starting somethin” and it was only performed in this original key in this concert on the tour. After this concert it was lowered to accommodate Michael’s voice. It is clear to that Michael strained to reach the high notes in the original key of the song (although he did reach them) and that it would just sound better to lower the song, slightly. Because of this, this was a great unique sounding performance! The sound was similar to the Bad tour sound and the horns didn’t quite fit. Michael Jackson was angry at the beginning of the song because BOTH “hits” were missed by a keyboardist. The first time Michael reacted with a look and the second time Michael reacted with a loud “HEY!”. Michael has a habit of this … he doesn’t react to the first mistake but does to the second mistake (we will see the same thing, in the same song at a later concert in Scandinavia on the Dangerous Tour).
“Human Nature” sounded amazing and Michael’s voice was SHARP. The band sounded like they enjoyed performing this song as it was perfect.
The next song was “Smooth Criminal”, which is always a highlight of the show. This performance was FULL of mistakes and even the legendary David Williams made a mistake! Let’s take a look at a few points! Firstly, Michael sang the first verse of this song live (he didn’t do this again on the tour), and the Microphone was way too quiet, so you couldn’t hear anything. The most glaring musical mistake of this song was the guitar solo after the lean came in way way too early. Michael’s guitarist, David Williams, came in a full four bars early – obviously this never happened again. After the Smooth Criminal lean the entry into the climax of the song was extremely weak in the sense that horns/keyboards during the “Robotics dance” (after the lean) failed to be played and sounded, when they eventually did come in, too weak, not a lot of attack and just a few notes to indicate that the drop was coming – it sounded like the band didn’t know what was coming next. The same happened just before the moonwalk toward the end of the song – the attack of the keyboards was very weak …. finally to end the song, the explosives suit jackets of the dancers failed and came in very very late. These things happen in a live show, and would never happen again on the tour.
Any one familiar with Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Tour rehearsals (which can be found on youtube), will smile with hearing the volume of the piano on “I just can’t stop loving you” …. very loud! Louder than Michael! (which he took issue with in the rehearsals). It also sounds like MJ’s pre recorded backing vocals for this song are off or very very quiet – they would later be turned on or turned up significantly higher. I think that Michael’s backing vocals are needed to bind the song. Nobody can sing like Michael and it really the songs really lack without Michael’s pre recorded vocals (for example listen to “Smooth Criminal” in “THIS IS IT” or “Earth Song” … they don’t have the quality of previous tours). The Jackson 5 medley was very fast, similar to Bad tour but musically like the later History tour – the ending was a bit messy, especially the horns. You can really notice the increased pitch in “I’ll be there”, this lowered a few times over the years. His voice was sharp! He obviously did a bit of vocal warm ups before the opening night! 🙂
Thriller was a great performance but still had the musical mistakes which marked this concert. The main keyboards were powerful and strong but after the dancers appear the organ came in way too late and when it did come in, way too loud … you will later hear it hardly noticeable in the rest of the tour and a fade in for the organs in the later History tour. The “Whistle” keyboard sound came in way way to early (four bars), as well, just before the organ and Vincent Price’s vocal was too low. The band sound relieved when they get to the main climax of the chorus and the end of the song! (The guitars on this song were particularly impressive though!)
“Billie Jean“ was fully broadcast live from the concert and it was a great performance. The crowds reaction was amazing, the whole of the Olympic Stadium was clapping along. The song was sang live (except for the last line – which was pre recorded. The last line was always sang live on tour after this). Just before that point he took of his hat, or it fell off (camera doesn’t show) which is unusual and just after the moonwalk you can see Michael jump onto his toes come off on one foot – exactly as The main Thriller chorus in the 1982 Thriller video (a misstep!). As with the rest of the concert the drummer gave a cue for Michael to start singing the first verse (or more likely indicate the rest of the bank what’s next) of “Billie Jean”, with a double tap of the drums … again, this would never happen again …. they would just keep going until Michael sang the first line and go from there. Also interesting that this exact scene and entry into the first verse was the actual take used for the Michael Jackson Dangerous Tour Bucharest DVD!
“Beat it” was also performed at it’s original high pitch for the first and last time during the tour on the opening night and you can really hear it straining Michael’s voice. The keyboards were great and very strong … great pads On the other hand the electric guitar sounded very low.
“Black or White” was also broadcast live and it was also sang live! The song was sometimes sang live in parts during the tour but the full first verse was live – during later parts of the songs the pre recorded vocal track was brought in … you can also hear him “humming” the medley, second verse as well as missing the “Hee!”, doing a dance move instead. As always (it seems!) the microphone for the “rap” failed and the crowd went wild! The audience were lit during this concert (presumingly due to the live broadcasts). One more interesting note. You’ll see Michael rocking out at the end of the song, with MJ on his back and kicking into the air… even this move was taken from the great Fred Astaire, specifically the “Texan dance” (with Kay Thompson) in the movie “Funny Face“… pretty cool!
Although dropped from later parts of the tour “Bad” and “The Way You Make Me Feel” were performed in Munich and the first couple of weeks of the tour from 27th June – 15th July 1992). I think these are two of his best (and most famous songs) and should always be played! The “wow wow” guitars were great during the opening night and the last parts of the song (“TWYMMF” (before the main dance and after) were sang live. Drums: The hammer bass kick by the drummer, in the same song, just after the dance sounded very much like the grammy awards 88 performance … this was unique to this performance (and very subtle drum rhythm).
“Bad” … what a song! Parts of this were broadcast in the German special on the opening night and you can see Michael perform parts of the song, end it, as well as introducing the band. It’s quite funny because you can see Michael messing around, he notices one of the backing singers “Jam” military hats on the floor, picks it up and put’s it on. You can also see Michael’s dancer Taco, stand in for this song during the Dangerous Tour rehearsals. He really gave a lot of time to introducing the band on this tour (more than the Bad Tour and infinitely more than the History Tour – I always felt sorry for Brad Buxer, Muffett and the rest of them – I felt they should have a got a bit more thanks and time … but the show is a Michael Jackson show and that is that and i ultimately agree with that – he can do it anyway he wanted.You can also see that it is Brad Buxer doing the horns and Greg doing the organs (for this song), when MJ hugs Greg Phillinganes and the horns carry on) also though Greg previously said his favourite part of playing with Michael was the “The way you make me feel” horns, I actually presumed he always played the horns for all the songs with prominent horn sections (which was wrong). The “Who’s Bad” long intro was just as it was toward the end of the Bad Tour … a classic song and a great performance! Talking about the famous Hammond organ solo, first half was improvised and the second half stuck to original. The famous Jimmy Smith performed an amazing solo and I feel that, although Greg is amazing amazing amazing, the song would have been better served with a more similar solo.
The first live performance of “Heal the world” was great and the backing singers volume was a lot louder than later in the tour with Michael’s being a lot lower. Sounds like a backing guitar theme is a pre recorded keyboard sound and the outro was performed with Michael singing very very high … I have never heard him sing this high again.
Finally … Man in the mirror – Big mistakes but an amazing performance!
Many small subtle mistakes in this particular performance but nevertheless one of the best:
– sounds like the first line was sang live, but Michael came in a few bars early, which threw everybody off and they had to turn off the key board sound (the “twinkle” sound) around “turn up my collar” the keyboardist performed parts of this line manually after this point (around “broken bottle top”) very well (starry sound).
– After the first line, they turned the lead vocal pre recorded track on
– Vocal choir went out of sinc – Went up a key then back down incorrectly, had to switch off the choir backing and do it with just live backing vocals … as you can hear from the end of the song.
– AMAZING DRUMMING Ricky Lawson – After all the mistake in this song you will hear him “Thumping” the bass kick toward the end. This is an indication to the band that a change in key is approaching or a big change in the song. This is usually done when the band is slightly “lost” and to bring them back into “order”. You can also hear a similar thing in the History tour toward the end of the song “Scream”. The drummer will change the Bass kick and thump it a few times to indicate a change (in this case a quick end and explosions). Take a listen the audio of “Man in the Mirror” from the show and if you listen carefully you will hear the backing tracks going in and out as well as key changes in the wrong place.
We all know that Michael Jackson was a perfectionist and he clearly sorted out all of these issues.
For fans, it’s always nice to have something different and in my opinion the musicians on this tour were the best in the world, it proves the point “practice makes perfect”. Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Tour opening night in Munich…. what an opening!
By Anthony King (c)
MICHAEL JACKSON DANGEROUS TOUR MUNICH, JUNE 27, 1992
MICHAEL JACKSON HISTORY TOUR LIVE IN SEOUL, KOREA
MICHAEL JACKSON DANGEROUS TOUR BUCHAREST LIVE CONCERT/DVD
MICHAEL JACKSON AND FRIENDS 1999 CHARITY CONCERTS
MICHAEL JACKSON’S HISTORY WORLD TOUR 1996
MICHAEL JACKSON’S DANGEROUS WORLD TOUR 1992
MICHAEL JACKSON’S BAD TOUR 1988
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