Three years after his death, memories of a ticket hunt that took a dramatic twist
Three years ago to this very week, I started it rather smugly.
Having failed miserably to nab tickets to see Michael Jackson perform at the O2 Arena in London on his comeback tour, I had received an email offering me the chance to snap up some freshly released tickets. If I moved quickly enough on June 24 they could be mine.
With my fingers poised over the ‘buy now’ button the moment they became available, I snapped up a pair and the live musical event of the decade would be witnessed.
Or so I thought.
I must admit to not being an enormous Jacko fan. His increasingly bizarre behaviour in latter life and even more bizarre behaviour by his die-hard ‘we’ll never hear a word said against him, not even as a joke’ fan base alienated him from me even more.
Heaven knows, I don’t have any problem with loyally following a performer who you admire, but when you spend your time visiting news websites and blasting writers for using the term Jacko (let’s not even start if it was preceded with the word Wacko), I ponder if time could not be spent in a more worthwhile manner. Like getting out a bit more.
But it had always been a regret I hadn’t seen him at his peak – plus I like an all-singing, all-dancing live show, and if nothing else, his live performance had been hailed as one of those things that needed to be seen.
So after missing out in the first batch of tickets, I was in. A show just a couple of weeks into the run, and in a seat which would not cause me to suffer a nose-bleed.
I was working late the night the news first broke on June 25 – a mere 24-hours after my ticket success – that Michael Jackson had been taken ill.
I watched the news flash up on Sky that he’d been taken to hospital. Hmmmm, I thought to myself, wonder if that means he’ll still be OK for the London show I have tickets for?
When it then said it had suffered a cardiac arrest, my assumption – such as it was at the time, and forgive the rather callous nature here – was that he probably wasn’t going to make a sufficiently full recovery to be able to perform within a couple of months. Just my luck. Still, I was prepared to wait.
So by the time reports started to leak out he’d actually died, not only did I sit there stunned (as I’d grown up Jackson had been absolutely the biggest name in show business and sold records by the bucketload), but I had to face up to the fact only a publicity stunt to top all publicity stunts would be able to pull this one out of the bag.
I had tickets – just no performer to go and see. And certainly no smug face anymore.