Jacko Holds Bad Court

Of course he said “I love you” but – as Marcel Avram once remarked – just saying “I Love You” isn’t enough, and Michael Jackson’s first U.K. appearance in nearly a decade turned out to be anticlimactic.

The morning after the World Music Awards, where Jacko collected a gong for selling more than 100 million albums over the course of his career, the U.K. media gave the impression that some of his court appearances were more entertaining than the one he made at Earls Court.

“I dedicate this to the so many that have loved me and stayed by me throughout these years in the entertainment business,” he told the crowd and the TV news cameras, during an acceptance speech that had him touching his heart, blowing kisses, loving his fans and thanking God at least a couple of times.

The eccentric megastar also thanked his family and friends and one of his children, whom he referred to as “Blanket.”

It was a typical Jackson performance, but not the one an excited London crowd that paid up to £70 a ticket most wanted to see.

Rumors that the deposed King Of Pop was going to perform a live version of his famous”Thriller” video turned out to be no more than that.

The song itself got an airing because R&B star Chris Brown performed it somewhere else in the show, while Jackson’s much-vaunted dramatic comeback amounted to no more than joining a group of youngsters to sing a few lines of the Live Aid charity anthem “We Are The World.”

During this fleeting performance, his voice either “cracked,” “faltered” or “wavered,” depending on which of the next morning’s dailies one read, while the Times said it was only some gentle coaxing from Beyoncé Knowles (who presented his award) that got him to sing at all.

It was “stage fright,” the paper said, although the red-topped tabloids seem to think it may have had more to do with how he looked rather than the fact he was expected to sing.

According to the Star, the self-styled (or surgeon-styled) Peter Pan of pop’s cosmetic jobs are “taking their toll,” while the Sun felt Jacko’s undoubtedly expensive face “looked like it was melting.”

In the nine years since he was last in Britain, when he was on the European leg of the HIStory Tour, Jackson’s life has become increasingly weird and reclusive.

The public appearances that have gained the most exposure have been during the legal battle with Avram, when he failed to make the Millennium Eve shows that the (then) German-based promoter had set up, and last year’s Santa Maria, Calif., court appearances, where he was acquitted of child abuse charges.

After nine years away, Jacko’s U.K. return could hardly be called a happy one. There’s no news on whether he still wants to live there.

– John Gammon