News & Insights 13 March 2009

Have we been played?


Last week Michael Jackson came out of hiding to announce that he was playing ten shows at the 02 Arena. These were to be his last ever performances in London. This is it, everybody said.

This is it, at least, aside from the other forty gigs that were later added to meet the enormous demand for tickets.

Even once you set aside the question of whether the lovable old fruitcake will actually make it to show number 50, consider this – have we been played? Surely they knew all along there’d be more than ten concerts. In hindsight, wasn’t the whole “This is it” schtick just a clever ploy to sway the floating voters?

By which I mean that, whilst MJ has a legion of loyal fans over here who would spend their life savings to watch him perform in a swamp, the promoters must have also realised that there was a large portion of the public who might go either way – casual of fans of his music (for who in the WORLD isn’t at the very least a casual fan of Michael Jackson?) who had asked the inevitable question “Will it be any good? Will it not just be a bit like watching a marionette operated by a one-armed stroke victim?”. 

Scarcity, as we know, drives up demand. The dudes sitting on the fence were given a cunning nudge in the right direction: “Well, I wasn’t that bothered about going to see him until I discovered there were only ten shows and he’d never be playing London again. I have to get tickets now. I mean, come on, this is IT! ”

As I write I am currently trying, and failing, to secure my tickets to see the King in the flesh. Maybe it was never meant to be for me.

If only “Jim’ll Fix It” was still around.

Chris Lightyear

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