Review: Thriller Live

Thriller Live at QPAC. Photo supplied.
Thriller Live at QPAC. Photo supplied.

Celebrating the ‘the undisputed King of Pop’, Thriller Live is a tribute concert show of Michael Jackson’s musical journey from his Motown days in the Jackson 5 to his chart-topping solo career.

The origins of the show grew out of an annual tribute concert created in 1988 by family friend Adrian Gant, for a British-based Michael Jackson fan club. The show was so popular; it grew into a major production in 2006 and has been touring the world since.

With a career spanning more than 40 years, the show traversed a number of eras with changes in musical style and costuming, helped along by a narrator. A number of outstanding singers were utilised to share the vocal load include The Voice finalist Prinnie Stevens. It was interesting that the main lead vocalist was female, which I suspect had more to do with Michael Jackson’s extraordinary vocal range more than anything. Prinnie’s vocals were excellent, however I would have liked her to exude a little more energy than a relaxed cool approach to some of the numbers.

Michael Jackson’s songs were so diverse and the man himself was so talented that it seemed like it needed five or six people to cover all the styles and fill those iconic back and white shoes. Speaking of which, Sean Christopher who played the dancing role of Michael Jackson was very adept in his signature moves and was an obvious highlight of the show. Michael Jackson is really like no other and it wasn’t just his music, or just the dance moves, but his personality, which no one can imitate. At times throughout the show, even though I was enjoying myself, I couldn’t help thinking about the Sinead O’Connor song …’Nothing Compares’.

The backing dancers were incredible and injected a high-energy and passionate performance. A little humour was also littered throughout which lightened the atmosphere and helped give the show light and shade. There was also an audience participation moment where everyone had to get out of their seats and sing the echo part of a song, which was fun if you just went with the flow of it.

Thriller Live at QPAC. Photo supplied.
Thriller Live at QPAC. Photo supplied.

Again, towards the end when Michael’s most iconic songs were finally delivered, the cast encouraged us to get out of our seats which helped to create the feeling of being in an actual concert rather than just watching a theatre performance. Favourites of course where his most well known songs ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Thriller’. The live band was incredible and it was good to see different members being showcased when they had solos.

The set design was world class with stairs on both sides leading up to a raised platform. Several LED screens hung either side of the stage as well as a large cross-shaped LED screen in the middle. The ‘wow factor’ moment was when the largest LED disco ball I’ve ever seen was lowered from the lighting rig – very clever. The other really nice touch, which the fans audibly appreciated, was when the stairs lit up during ‘Billie Jean’, just like the music video.

The only disappointment was that I was expecting to see a lot of archival footage of Michael.
perhaps there were copyright issues, but for a major worldwide touring production, it would be assumed that those things would be sorted out and delivered.

Overall, Thriller Live was a great trip down memory lane, not just for Michael Jackson fans, but a nostalgic musical look back on our lost youth. Ahh the memories…

Thriller Live is playing at the Concert Hall in the Queensland Performing Arts Centre till January 25.

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius

Bobbi-Lea is's QLD Co-ordinator, writer, reviewer, and reporter. She is also an actor, presenter, and theatre/film producer for Drama Queen Productions in Brisbane. Bobbi-Lea holds a Degree in Music Theatre as well as a Degree in Film & TV, and is currently doing her Masters in Screen Production.

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius

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