Michael Jackson Kicks Off Tour
TOKYO (AP) _ In a high-tech extravaganza that was his first concert in more than four years, Michael Jackson worked a crowd of 38,000 into a frenzy tonight at a Tokyo baseball stadium.
Giant panels of bright light slowly rose from the stage, dimmed suddenly and Jackson launched into the first number of a 16-song, nearly two-hour show.
The 29-year-old superstar drew shrieks of ″Ma-ke-ru,″ the Japanese pronunciation of his name, and thrilled the mostly Japanese crowd with his array of Egyptian-like poses, karate kicks and ″moon-walking″ - sliding backwards while appearing to move forward.
″Ordinary people just can’t move like that. It’s superhuman. Nobody has talent like that,″ said Atsuko Nogi, 22.
″It’s sensational. Just like, well, Madonna,″ said Eriko Ameko, 19, who flew 1,000 miles from Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost prefecture, to attend the concert.
The set, designed partly by Jackson, had 700 lights, 100 speakers, two 24- by-18 foot screens, and three lasers using 40 mirrors. Jackson’s spokesmen refused to disclose the cost of the production.
Sharing the stage with Jackson were four dancers, four singers and seven musicians, some of whom wore costumes decked out with fiber-optic lights.
Beams of green light showered Jackson, at times enveloping him in what appeared to be a small tornado.
The concert in Korakuen Stadium was the first of Jackson’s 13-concert Japan tour and kicked off a world solo tour that will take him to Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the United States. Jackson has not performed live since the ″Victory Tour″ with his brothers 4 1/2 years ago.
All 367,500 tickets to the shows in Tokyo and three other cities were sold out within hours of going on sale.
Jackson’s arrival in Japan coincided with his new single ″I Just Can’t Stop Loving You″ hitting the No. 1 spot on the U.S. pop charts. In addition to the latter, Jackson performed the title track from his new albumn ″Bad″ and 14 others from past records.
Jackson’s arrival in Japan on Wednesday sparked a fury of Michaelmania, with the rock star featured on items ranging from hand towels to magnetic telephone cards.
Nihon Television, sponsors of the tour, has set up a special shop at its Tokyo headquaters to sell T-shirts, baseball caps, posters and the telephone cards, which operate certain public phones.
Among Jackson’s entorage on the tour is his pet chimpanzee Bubbles, who arrived ahead of his owner clad in a red and white striped shirt and denim overalls. Bubbles, part of Jackson’s backyard menagerie that includes a python, llamas and a bear, rode a chartered bus to a Tokyo hotel, which reportedly repapered a room because the chimp doesn’t like the smell of smoke.