Tag Archives: concert

2214. I Spied: Michael Jackson

(Stories posted on Mondays on this blog – at least for a while – will present famous people I once spotted, albeit from a distance.)

It was 1973 and I was at university studying Music. There were a dozen or so students living in the same big house. I was the only one doing Music. The others were studying exotic things like Accounting, Chemistry, History, and Computer Science.

At some stage during the year the Jackson Five came to Wellington to give a concert. It was to be staged in the Opera House. I knew the music of the Jackson Five but I wasn’t into them in a big way.

Now in those days there were no cell phones. In fact, there weren’t even cordless phones. Landlines were earthbound. Their cords could be long but they were still attached. This has some relevance to this narrative because the booking agency for all concerts in town had a telephone number misprint in all the newspapers and it happened to be my phone number!

I disbanded attending lectures for three days, and answered the phone all day. “I’m sorry but the paper printed the wrong number. The correct number is…” A long cord on my phone meant I could even take the phone into the toilet. There was no rest from people wishing to purchase tickets for the Jackson Five.

After three days, and the Agency hadn’t changed the number in the paper, I went down to the booking office and complained that I had done nothing else in the past three days. They apologised and gave me a free ticket to the concert.

Now in those days – I don’t know if they still do it – the front central seats in the dress circle of an opera house remain empty and unsold in case “the Head of State” suddenly turns up. These seats are sold just minutes before the concert starts. I was given the seat where the President, or the Monarch, or the Prime Minister, would sit. That’s why it was good to be patient at sold out concerts because such seating often became available at the last minute.

The concert came and went. It was enjoyable but I don’t really remember a great deal about it. I remember the group’s parents being introduced. They weren’t sitting in the dress circle like myself. Oh no! They were down below sitting there like ordinary people. Towards the end of the concert they introduced their little brother Michael. He sang a song. It was cute enough. He wasn’t bad. A bit podgy.

And that is how I came to catch a glimpse or two of…

Michael Jackson

1819. The child prodigy

(Warning: there could be swearing)

Cornelius Dresdomida-Heregofinsopt was the most astonishing child prodigy since Adam was a boy. He was a musician. His two main instruments were piano and piccolo. You wouldn’t believe what he could do with a piccolo! Astonishing!

Since the age of five he had shown a remarkable talent for piano, and he celebrated his tenth birthday by playing Dmitri Smith’s 14th Piano Concerto in A minor accompanied by the Ulaanbaatar Symphony Orchestra.

Reviews were stunning. The fact that he played one of his own compositions as an encore proved that the world was on the cusp of discovering a talent so divine it made Bach look like a headless chicken.

Cornelius went on to become one of the greats of all time. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Dresdomida-Heregofinsopt tripped off everyone’s tongue. Not only that, but he became the richest musician ever to hit the world stage. He was regarded as a phenomenon; a living icon; the incarnation of Michael the Archangel. Then he died, well into his eighties, leaving a body of work so vast that people were in disbelief.

Except none of this happened. Because when he was five years old and asked his parents if he could learn the piano, his father simply said, “No kid of mine is going to grow up a fuckin’ pansy.”

And that was that.

1565. Hitting the right note

Xiu Cheung was a fabulous concert pianist. She had appeared on the world stage at the age of fourteen and had never looked back. At first it was Chopin and Liszt. By the time she was in her mid-twenties she had married her manager and was in demand throughout the world to play well-nigh impossible piano concertos with every significant orchestra on the planet.

The utter apex of her art was reached in Strasbourg. She played Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto. It was an unbelievable success.

Never had this concerto been tackled with such energy, such grace, such delicacy, such boldness, such… There was not a human emotion that Xiu Cheung didn’t wring from the music. The finale was as if a ten-tonne bulldozer had crashed onto the stage in a spectacle of utter destruction. The standing ovation lasted more than twenty minutes. From where did Xiu Cheung derive such energy? Such desire? How could anyone be driven to such passion?

Of course, it helped that her manager-husband was sitting dead as a doornail in the Green Room with Xiu Cheung’s nail scissors plunged deep in his chest.

1452. Truly blessed

Alana was a fabulous concert pianist. She gave concerts all over the world. Critics raved. Audiences swooned.

“God has truly blessed you,” said Bethany.

“God has blessed me, my foot!” said Alana. “My talent is the result of hard work. I practised for hours as a kid. My ability has nothing to do with the fiction you call God. It has everything to do with me and me and me. Grow up.”

You wouldn’t believe it, but Alana died. “I had no idea that heaven was real,” said Alana arriving at the pearly gates. “I thought all this heaven stuff was a load of hogwash.”

“What would you like to do?” asked God (in a booming voice). “Who would you like to be?”

“I want to be the greatest pianist that ever existed,” said Alana.

WOOSH! Her request was answered immediately. There she was on a distant planet somewhere in the constellation of Piscis Austrinus. There sat the perfect grand piano. Alana began to play.

“I am truly blessed,” thought Alana.

Eventually it dawned on her. She was the only one on the planet.

1350. Back to square one

Brianna was excited. She had recently graduated from the city’s Academy of Music and Dance. It was a three year course, and Brianna played the piano. Now she needed to find a job; perhaps attract a few pupils. It would grow from there.

Brianna placed an advertisement in the local weekly paper. She would give a one hour concert in the Community Hall, and it was free. Works would be played by Liszt, Scriabin, and Handel. Brianna would then hand out little business cards she had printed off on her computer.

No one came. She played to an empty hall. A man wandered in at some stage, but it was probably a mistake. He was playing music on his mobile – without headphones. He left, mumbling something about “a racket”.

Oh well, thought Brianna, it’s back to square one.

1265. International stardom

I was asked to perform at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, but I said “No!” Nerves.

I was asked to perform at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, but I said “No!” Nerves.

I was asked to perform at Sadler’s Wells in London, but I said “No!” Nerves.

I was asked to perform at the Opera House in Sydney, but I said “No!” Nerves.

Anyway, I’ll be singing in the shower down at the Shelter for the Homeless on the 15th, if anyone’s interested.