This is Thriller

Five things you can expect at the Cirque du Soleil/Michael Jackson thing

This is Thriller
Zombies, a 12-piece band and a Giving Tree (maybe) will fill the Spokane Arena Saturday.

As if you needed proof that Michael Jackson is, and will forever be, the King of Pop, here it is: When he died, Cirque du Soleil immediately began clamoring to cash in on his name/visage/life.

Sure, they’ve done this kind of thing before, with Elvis (but he was an important dude in his own right), and for John Lennon and George Harrison (as a unit, which means it takes two Beatles to equal the best fifth of the Jackson 5), but they’ve never done anything this huge before — massive, crazy-big! So big, in fact, that they had to cancel the second night of the Spokane leg over worries that the Arena couldn’t withstand so much awesome back-to-back. (It was actually “unforeseen travel and logistical problems,” which means the creators didn’t plan very well.)

Canceled dates notwithstanding, though: Biggest. Michael. Jackson. Event. Ever!

Here are five huge things to expect:

1. A full band
Obviously they can’t recreate MJ’s vocals; those are one in a million. Quincy Jones’ fat basslines from “Beat It,” though? Totally re-doable. A live, 12-piece band under the direction of Jackson collaborator Greg Phillinganes will be in charge of that.

2. Bad Boys II-level special effects
called Jamie King, the Immortal World Tour’s writer and director, “The Jerry Bruckheimer of tent-pole concert tours.” They mean this as a compliment.

3. The Giving Tree
Not to be confused with the famous Shel Silverstein book, Michael Jackson’s Giving Tree was a “giant oak” on his Neverland ranch that he would climb to find inspiration. A representation of the tree is the centerpiece of the show.

4. A potentially broken Giving Tree
The poor thing broke outside of Detroit, which caused the first round of cancelations. But the show has gone on without it, garnering complaints from reviewers in Edmonton and Vancouver that the tree looked more like ”a scale model of a nuclear reactor’s cooling tower.” No word from organizers on whether it’s been fixed.

5. One hell of a spectacle
Even the event’s detractors say the event — even without the Giving Tree — oozes wow-factor, full of “acrobats, aerialists, balloons, bats, bikinis, soldiers, statues, welders, whizzbangs, [and] zombies.”

One thing to not expect: Michael Jackson himself. Sadly, Cirque du Soleil cannot raise the dead. It’s about the only thing they can’t do. 

Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour • Saturday, Nov. 12 at 8 pm • Spokane Arena • 720 W. Mallon Ave. • $50-$175 • 325-SEAT •

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About The Author

Luke Baumgarten

Luke Baumgarten is commentary contributor and former culture editor of the Inlander. He is a creative strategist at Seven2 and co-founder of Terrain.