Saturday, July 4, 2009

Will Elton fill Michael's 50 gig Void?

The King of Pop may have moonwalked off the stage for good, but as far as AEG is concerned, the show in London must go on.

According to The Associated Press, the concert promoter is scrambling to find a replacement for Michael Jackson as they attempt to make good on the series of 50 concerts Jackson committed to in March.

Among the proposals: A musical tribute to Jackson, A Jackson family concert--and in one of the more unusual ideas--an ABBA reunion show. But like all things Michael right now, the outcome is in the air. Lucy Ellison, AEG's press agent for AEG Europe, which operates the O2 Arena, politely but firmly rejected suggestions that the company has settled on a plan.

"At the moment we're waiting for the funeral to be out of the way and we'll let people know in due course." She said.

With the status of the London concerts currently unknown, fans and quite a few reporters--tabloid or otherwise--are publicly floating ideas about what they think should be done in honor of Jackson.

Chloe Ego, an Italian and T-shirt sales assistant from Italy, suggested having Elton John perform, 'because he'd adapt Michael Jackson's songs to his type of music.'

Elton's appearance at the 02 would be a bittersweet occasion--Jackson having praised John several years before in his liner notes for Jackson's 1997 album "Blood on the Dance Floor". Besides that connection, Jackson and John were good friends, going back to their associations with the late Ryan White in the 1980s and 1990s.

Prosaically, Maria Metzani of Athens, Greece suggested Whitney Houston, both because Jackson and Houston rocketed to fame early--Houston was 21 when her debut album "Whitney Houston" shot up the Billboard Top 100 charts, making her one of the youngest African-American solo artists of the 1980s--and for their alleged drug use.

Further afield, fans suggested a performance by Marilyn Manson, among others.

The chaos surrounding the proposed dates has only grown as the UK tabloid the Sun floated a rumor that 1970's group ABBA would reform in the wake of Jackson's death. However, that has not been confirmed, and given Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson's insistence that the band has permanently broken up, it is not likely to be.

However the most tenacious rumors swirl around a proposed series of concerts by the Jackson family--including Janet--as well as family friends in the music industry.

AEG executive Randy Phillips seemed to give credence to the idea during an appearance on Britain's Sky TV Tuesday, suggesting that just such a deal is 'in the works'.

However, no dates has been confirmed, and even with such a star-studded array of artists, industry experts privately doubt that the Jackson family will be able to sell out all 50 concerts for 2009-2010.

On the other side of the equation, many point to the success of Prince's 2007 show, in which he sold out all twenty dates for his concerts. The gigs not only brought in cash for the artist, but also AEG, and is rumored to have inspired Jackson's concept for a series of 50 shows.

Despite the confusion surrounding the tour dates, 2009 has been a good year so far for AEG, having seen a record 179 nights booked by artists, up 19% from last year's tally of 150.

Editor Chris Cooke of British music business journal CMU Daily is optimistic about AEG's financial performance this year.

"I think for autumn there are artists they can find." He said. "I can't believe they won't fill those spaces from September onwards. But it leaves it pretty empty between now and then. For one of the country's biggest venues, that's obviously not ideal. It's a lost opportunity to have a space that big sit empty for three months."

- Celebrity Cafe

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