Pop singer Michael Jackson was kicking around Las Vegas for quite a while, pondering the idea of returning to the concert stage at a Strip hotel. According to Review-Journal columnist Norm Clarke, Steve Wynn asked the singer to be a headliner at his new Encore resort.
But Jackson announced this week that he will be doing 10 shows, perhaps more, at a big arena in London starting in July. He says this will be his last hurrah in the limelight. We’ll see about that. Sources indicate that if things go well with the London shows, he may very well end up performing in Las Vegas at some point, according to Norm.
But here’s the thing: Jackson is better off making his comeback in London than in Las Vegas. Las Vegas, I think, is a bad fit for him. Las Vegas can be a tough crowd. Just ask Elvis Presley in 1956 or Criss Angel in 2008. He could flop here, and that would be unfortunate for Jackson and for Las Vegas.
Unlike others who have done well in Las Vegas, such as Celine Dion and Elton John, Jackson is not just a pop star, he’s a pop superstar, etched into music annals alongside Elvis Presley and the Beatles. He has the biggest-selling album of all time (“Thriller”), and has sold more than 750 million albums total. He’s a recluse in part because of his legal troubles and eccentricities but also because he’d be mobbed by fans all the time otherwise. He’s just too big to be a “resident headliner” in Las Vegas, which I don’t mean as an insult to Las Vegas.
By contrast, he’s not likely to flop in London, which is in Europe, where Jackson continues to be adored by legions of fans and where aging stars still sell out 20,000-seat arenas. Ticket reportedly are selling fast. From CNN.com:
“Former Billboard music editor Nelson George said British fans are much more forgiving of Jackson’s troubles than are Americans, who expect celebrities to be ‘saints and heroes.’
"‘The love for Michael Jackson in the U.K. is undiluted by any of the stuff that’s been talked about here in the states,’ said George. . . . ‘He’s a huge star there still and he will sell out all of those shows.’”