Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor

Wacko Jacko's Backo!

In the week that saw Psychic Sally summoning spirits from the afterlife when she appeared at Bradford’s St George’s Hall, I feel sure that Michael Jackson made a somewhat latent appearance last night when one of the world’s top Michael Jackson tribute shows opened to an enthusiastic, capacity crowd at the same venue.

And how wonderful it was to see a truly multi-cultural audience in this fair city, something you rarely observe at a Bradford theatre.

Asians, whites, Sikhs and every other culture in town, were there for one purpose: to worship the memory of the King of Pop……………… and what a fantastic man they had at the helm.

Ben Bowman, modestly billed as ‘Michael Starring Ben’, certainly has to be one of the top MJ impersonators in the UK, if not internationally, because his show, including three stunning backing dancers, a five piece rock band and a light show to die for, was shinier and glitzier than a silver dollar.

This guy has spent years honing his act and you cannot take an ounce of credit away from him because he took a tough crowd, thawed them in the middle and had them eating out of his hand by curtain down.

The outfits, the moves, the gestures, everything, was perfect.

For two hours Ben took his audience on a journey back in time to remember Michael Jackson – the man, the music and the magic. He showcased Jackson’s greatest hits as well as some from The Jackson 5, including Beat It, Billie Jean, Thriller and Man in the Mirror.

Michael Starring Ben is a hit theatre production that has been touring for many years and not only does Bowman have an uncanny resemblance to Jacko, but he undoubtedly sounds like the man and has mastered the pop star’s every gesture, something he supports with an impressive array of costumes.

Initially there some there to mock but, as the evening progressed, the detractors were silenced as the crowd were whipped into a frenzy of appreciation.

This was a great evening of entertainment and a superb night for Jackson fans. I suspect there is little else around like it and of this calibre.