The ultimate Michael Jackson tribute band comes to Baltimore
Michael Jackson’s last tour sold out in less than an hour. Because it was so popular they added forty more concerts on the original ten. Once these sold out in minutes, there were talks about playing at a whopping two hundred venues. Unfortunately, Michael Jackson passed away a month before the start of the ambitious project.
Nowadays, tribute bands are the closest thing we have to the real deal. Self-proclaimed Michael Jackson’s Ultimate Tribute Band “Who’s Bad” is the longest running and the only to predate his passing. For over ten years they have been touring and selling out tickets at many worldwide venues, from small rooftops parties to state fairs.
If you are thinking no man could live up to the king of pop, what about two? This band has two singers that perform Jackson’s songs during the show. Both are very capable of imitating Jackson’s voice and hitting those high notes when needed. At one point during the show I believed there were even more singers, but then I realized they kept changing costumes and performing separately. For a few songs, including the obligatory encore, both singers performed together.
Seeing both choreograph on stage with each other was even more entertaining. One would moonwalk while the other sing, then both would sync up their moves and sing together. Neither of them stuck to a specific style. Both could switch between fast and slow moves with ease. Although there were plenty of moonwalks, there was a disappointing lack of signature crotch grabs.
Having both singers on stage was also a friendly reminder that they are just impersonators. To some it might take away a bit of the magic on stage. It was a lot harder to pretend you were watching the real thing when two Michael Jacksons were singing together. Apart from the lead singers, Who’s Bad has a large cast of guitarists, bassists, drummers, and backup singers all swaying on stage.
It is a rare experience when I go to a concert and recognize every song played. Michael Jackson boasts so many hit songs that it’s easy to compile a top fifty list of his best work. Who’s Bad performed various classics like “Smooth Criminal,” “Beat It,” and “Thriller.” They even played “I want you back” from his earlier days with The Jackson Five. The mood of the crowd changes completely to match the song. During a slow song like “Man in the mirror,” people would clap to the rhythm and sing along. Then they would switch it up with a faster song like “Bad,” and the whole crowd would go nuts and start jumping up and down. It may take a few seconds to recognize the live version, but soon after every song started the crowd roared with joy and nostalgia.
I have never been to a Michael Jackson concert. Yet I imagine a huge sold out arena would not have felt as personal as this night. While playing “You make me feel,” one singer had over fifteen audience members jump on stage to dance with him. Because his music appeals to a wide demographic, there were people of every age dancing on there. Even a young boy stole the limelight by whipping on a pair of sunglasses and dancing his heart out. The whole crowd cheered him on, unsure whether he was part of the show or not. In the audience, you could spot several parents with their children and people of every color. Because if you’re thinking about Michael Jackson it don’t matter if you’re black or white.
The venue where they played also helped it become a more personal experience. Located near the inner harbor in downtown Baltimore, Soundstage offers an excellent small space for concerts, with room for one thousand standing only and five hundred for seated shows. Even if you are stuck dancing at the back, you can still clearly make out the performers faces on stage. Keep in mind the small space also means tickets sell out quicker.
Overall, Who’s Bad deserves its self-proclaimed moniker as Michael Jackson’s ultimate tribute band. This is as real as it can get if you want to experience a show from the late king of pop. They will be touring all around the United States until October fifteenth. For more information, check out their website here.
Garrett Cleary is an Irish freelance artist from Madrid. You can check out some of his work here!