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Michael Jackson delays opening four O2 concerts

Michael Jackson, King of Pop

Story by Jack Foley

MICHAEL Jackson has delayed the opening four nights of his This Is It tour at London’s O2 arena in order to allow more time for dress rehearsals.

The announcement was made by concert promoters AEG Live over a month before the pop star was due to open the series on July 8. It means that the first show will be pushed back by five nights, to July 13, and the other three July dates will not take place until March 2010.

The affected dates are as follows:

July 8 – moved to July 13, 2009
July 10 – moved to March 1, 2010
July 12 – moved to March 3, 2010
July 14 – moved to March 6, 2010

Commenting on the delays, Randy Phullips, president of AEG Live, said they had been prompted by Jackson and his creative director, Kenny Ortega, explaining: “Kenny and Michael are, at the same time, both creative pioneers and perfectionists.

“This show has grown in size and scope, thereby necessitating more lead time for manufacture of the set, programming the content for the massive video elements, and, most importantly, more time for full production and dress rehearsals.

“As much as we agonised over this change in the original schedule, we are sure the fans will understand when they experience the level of entertainment Michael Jackson intends to deliver.”

Ortega, who has previously worked on two of Jackson’s tours and who directed all three High School Musical films, also apologised to fans, saying: “I know what the fans expect and myself and the team want to deliver a flawless production.

“We apologise to all disappointed Michael Jackson fans and remain extremely dedicated and focused on creating an exceptional live music experience.”

Full refunds are also being offered to those who cannot make the re-arranged concerts.

According to the BBC, fans have reacted with anger and frustration to the announcement, with several quoted as saying the changes had wrecked their travel plans.