Almost seven years ago, I had traveled to Las Vegas. A few days before the release of Xscape,I had taken the opportunity to attend the oneshow, directed by Cirque du Soleil.
This was the opportunity to write a magazine for issue 2.8 of MJBackstagemagazine. I finally decided to add it to the site, so that these lines are immortalized in my digital fiefdom.
It is strange to reread after so many years but that is how I lived the experience.
Good reading to all.
Everyone knows the famous saying that travel is a form of youth. Until now I had not really been able to verify it since I had never left Europe. Things have changed a bit in recent weeks with a Flight from Paris to Las Vegas that completely changed my scene. Not that I wanted to set my sights on casinos and their slot machines. There was no need to get to this point because Cirque du Soleil's ONE experience in the game city is enough to transport you into a whirlwind of emotions and thrills. You may go to an artificial paradise where money is king, but you will paradoxically find yourself in a place of recollection where the soul and the universe of Michael Jackson take you away from all those material and superficial objects specific to this world of the game. This may seem abstract to you, but I will try to clarify it for you.
At the time of landing, after about ten hours of flight, one could legitimately think first of his hotel to put his luggage. Know that this is not the case because, from my window, I already have a stunning view of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, with great pomp, the poster and the name of the illustrious guest to whom we pay tribute here every night since May 2013. One way to remind me that this first stay on American soil is (and will remain) sentimentally related to him. This time, I'm the one who's taking a step towards Michael when, for more than 25 years, it's always been in the opposite direction. A disturbing, bewitching and hard-to-explain feeling to a non-fan. But here I feel in good territory to share this adventure and these emotions new to me.
Thus, at this very moment, I may have a reproduction of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, like a kind of "Black Or White" decoration on a human scale, since my plane, it is to the Mandalay Bay that all my attention is focused, as if my trip was in fact a pilgrimage. I have to assume it, I no longer hold up and the day after my arrival, I take my ticket to ONE.
Upon entering the glitzy Mandalay Bay hotel-casino, I have the reflex to immediately look for the way to the Cirque du Soleil showroom. All the rhinestones and glitter of the place have no effect on me. I just take a brief look at the slot machines that only confirm this feeling: the main thing is not there because it is Michael's timeless music that materializes in my unconscious like never before. I finally arrive at my destination and discover the ONE shop, after observing all the objects that decorate the corridor. In a shop window, I discover his loafers and sequined socks, as well as the jacket he wore at the American Music Awards in 1984. Several shots (from the 1995 MTV Music Video Awards) that are approaching three meters high, are displayed just in front of the store entrance.
Numerous documents, including MJ's notes to organize his 30-year career at Madison Square Garden in 2001, confirm my impressions: everything here fully pays tribute to my idol. The desire for a museum dedicated to the King of Pop has often been mentioned, and I am not far from thinking that I am there at that moment. Before the show starts, I still have a little tour to do at the shop. Despite the many temptations, I finally don't buy anything. It is true that the essential is not there since it is my spirit that I feed deeply in this pilgrimage that I did not suspect at the time of packing.
What about the show? Judicious question, because all my impressions must be confirmed by a show equal to the genius of Michael Jackson. The doors open and I'm finally ready to enter the enclosure, at last almost... I discover the entrance hall and examine a tapestry covered with the many titles of his discography, as if to better immerse myself in his universe. There are also some silhouettes from various eras, well known to fans, on a red background. The décor is truly sumptuous, like a worthy aperitif of the biggest events. I feel privileged to be there, as if crossing the Atlantic now makes sense. Time stops... But I have to pull myself together because I have to win my seat. The room is not so big and therefore offers this intimate side so rarely present in the musical universe of MJ. The giant central screen reveals images of a hat, a glove, moccasins, a pair of Ray-bans and a stool. These objects "fly" as if to better show all the magic they represent. Michael paid tribute to the world of "Billie Jean" during the HIStory Tour and the result is this timeless and eternal atmosphere developed by ONE. It seems that Cirque du Soleil has really understood all the artistic subtlety of Michael Jackson...
The giant side screens are lighter in tone, as if to better measure the ingredients of this complex recipe. The front-rowers gather as soon as they enter the front page of the tabloids, recalling the music video for "Leave Me Alone". They are machine-gunned by paparazzi with the look of private detectives, while in the background we hear the song "Privacy". The latter is far from my favorite, but I still start to kick, captivated by the sound quality. This is one of the positives of this show and it is felt before it really starts.
I admit I was wondering if I would enjoy ONE. I loved Immortal because I had been able to see and hear live a group of virtuosos including Greg Phillinganes and Jonathan Moffett. This time it is a show essentially in play-back and this detail could have played against him. However, from the first notes, I understood that One had its own identity, with different mixes from the playlist ofImmortal. Apart from a few brief identical passages. Cirque du Soleil has managed to reshape the ensemble, drawing inspiration from the best of Immortal to perfect it and offer this new show. The sound quality of the room exceeds anything I had heard before in my life, to the point of rediscovering "Speechless", whose mix on Invincible can not bear the comparison. It is also impossible not to appreciate the choreography and acrobatics that are moving at such a crazy speed that you don't see all the subtleties. One's strength is to satisfy our ears, eyes, feet and heart. On this subject, special mention to this version of "Stranger In Moscow": I did not think I would be so moved without the presence of Michael Jackson. The troupe really feels the soul of the King's songs and offers us all the flavor of his universe. I don't want to reveal the content of the show, but I can't keep this performance quiet. The set-list is quite complete, knowing how to please the general public with the classics and fans with other less popular titles.
The presence of the hologram at the end of the show was not for me the highlight of the evening. I had felt Michael Jackson's soul throughout the show and his music was much more powerful than that technical effect. It is true that I heard his voice echoing in the loudspeaker of my seat, at the level of my ears, as if he were singing for me, as if we were bathing in a moment that belonged only to us. A voice, his own, inimitable... So pure and so far from all the artifices, forever... As ONE ends and I leave the room, my mind stays in the stars... I have this wish that this moment will never end.