Series: Top Ten favourite concert openings
4. Wanna Be Startin Somethin (Jacksons: Victory Tour 1984; Michael Jackson: Bad World Tour 1987-1989)
The magic begins even before a single note is played. The Jacksons appear at the top of a flight of stairs, then slowly march in time down like machines. The anticipation is already too much for some. The Jacksons slowly and deliberately remove their sunglasses. The crowd screams even louder. Then the iconic opening drum kick. The groovy synth bass. The orchestra hits. The guitar riffs. The hip-thrusting. Finally, Michael does a call-and-response with his brothers whilst moving effortlessly across the stage.
On Michael’s first solo tour, this song takes a life of its own on the stadiums-only European leg. These stadiums are PACKED. Faintings are guaranteed. Concert openings are clearly even more epic in a stadium setting.
This live version from Wembley Stadium on 16 July 1988 starts with a rumbling, wailing guitar similar to the intro used on David Bowie’s 1976 tour. The crowd waits to catch a glimpse of Michael. Panels of lights rise and fall, with smoke obscuring Michael and his dancers at first. When the synths and smoke die down, Michael is finally revealed. The crowd ERUPTS. The drum kick hits, the synth bass begins grooving and suddenly 72000 people are jumping to the beat.
For the next 5 minutes (apart from a 30-second break in the middle), Michael’s energy doesn’t let up. The grunts, the crotch-grabbing, the running, kicking and jumping across the stage, the soulfulness, the confidence, the random yelling and generally the BAD-ASS-ness of this performance are enthralling to watch. Quite possibly my favourite Michael Jackson live performance ever.