Michael Jackson serves up a thriller to his adoring fans at the RDS


A concerned resident pacing outside a pub in Ballsbridge was not taking any notice of a group of Michael Jackson fans singing Ben, one of the star's earlier and somewhat more innocent songs, despite it being a pop ode to a rat.

"The man is weird," the man said. "Who in the name of God goes around with an oxygen mask all the time? And all this is a pain. The night of recovery from all the chip bags and beer bottles will start only when the concert is finished."

The concert on Saturday night at the RDS began with explosions and rocket-ships and ended with a starburst of fireworks. Visually, it was more "big top" circus values than anything else.

Twink, one of many Irish personalities at the extravaganza, was there enjoying the music (presumably) but also picking up tips for her next pantomime (probably).

Of course, children play an integral part in pantomimes and Michael Jackson played the children-of-the-world card for all it was worth.

The sceptical amongst us will pour cold water on the self-styled "king of pop" using children as emotional props at the finale of the show (Earth Song and Heal The World) but even the most balanced of people could see it was in extremely questionable taste, made all the more complex by past allegations of child abuse against the singer.

Whatever about those closing minutes of stopping tanks and saving the world, the remainder of the show was a brilliant exercise in slick stagecraft, Broadway-influenced choreography and some terrific songs.

In pitch-perfect voice throughout, when Jackson plays it straight there are very few stars who can match him song for song.

The so-called "History World Tour" is just that - a lengthy credible traipse through his back pages from The Jackson Five's I Want You Back, The Love You Save, and I'll Be There to a solo greatest-hits package which included Billie Jean, Thriller, Smooth Criminal, Dangerous, They Don't Care About Us and Stranger In Moscow.

Part pop brilliance and part barking mad (in a caring, sharing way, of course), there is a dichotomy to Jackson's mindset that is genuinely sad and scary. Yet despite all the adverse publicity, he's still "king of pop" to thousands of people.

This was a great show, a spectacle of huge egotistic proportions the like of which we may never see again.

Well, at least until U2's PopMart hits town.