The Jacksons bring Unity to The PNE

The Jacksons: Unity Tour – PNE Amphitheatre – August 18, 2013

On the eve of their 50th year performing together and nearly three decades since they last toured on The Victory Tour, The Jacksons have reunited for The Unity Tour. This marks the first tour they’ve done without late brother Michael and with youngest brother Randy sitting this tour out, the four oldest Jacksons kept the audience happy with a greatest hits setlist from their back catalogue.
In typical Jackson style, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon arrived onstage in a flash of sequins and shimmer to kick off the show with “Can You Feel It”, followed by “Blame It On The Boogie”, two big retro hits that ignited the audience. A free show (included with PNE admission) for most of the audience, the fan zone reserved seating was ticketed and sold out, the PNE Amphitheatre was packed with a very diverse audience. The group kept the setlist to mainly their most well known hits to keep the audience on their feet the whole show. The presence of the King Of Pop was felt throughout the show as the brothers paid homage to late brother Michael in video and photo montages and when Jermaine covered Michael’s fitting “Gone Too Soon”. However, when they covered his other solo hits like “Rock Wit You”, “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somthing” it felt a bit like they were using his music to further their resurgence. While this tour was likely a success as a result of his death, I felt it a bit too soon to perform Micheal’s hits. In spite of my misgivings the audience ate up those solo hits but the biggest cheers of the night was for the “old stuff”, a classic Jackson 5 medley of “I Want You Back/ABC/The Love You Save/Never Can Say Goodbye” performed as they did on the Ed Sullivan Show decades ago. “I’ll Be There” and “Shake You Body (Down To The Ground)” were also fan favourites.

Even through their performances have been few and far between, decades of dedication and practice showed them to still be the ultimate showmen. While Michael’s falsetto and lead vocals were missed the quartet still harmonized well and Jermaine and Marlon took on the majority of the vocal and banter with the audience. The few sound issues were more likely an issue with the outdoor venue and background noise from the midway than the singers themselves. The tears from an audience member near me during the nostalgic montages shows the passion the people have for these singers, and Michael. That goodwill carries the group on a wave of applause long after the last note has been sung.

The Unity Tour has officially wrapped up but individual shows, like this Vancouver gig, continue to be added.
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