Michael Jackson tribute concert in Vienna cancelled

Friday, September 11, 2009

VIENNA - What had been billed as the “sole worldwide” Michael Jackson tribute concert in Vienna later this month was cancelled Friday, with a no-show by top performers proving the killer.

Concert promoter Georg Kindel and Jackson’s brother Jermaine announced that the concert would instead be staged next June at London’s Wembley Stadium, Austria’s APA news agency reported.

The Vienna concert, to have been staged in front of the Austrian capital’s magnificent Schoenbrunn Palace, failed to pull top stars such as Madonna and U2 as had been speculated.

Then, Chris Browne, Mary J. Blige and Natalie Cole - all reported to be ready to appear - had distanced themselves from the event by Thursday.

Vienna city authorities added a final blow by withdrawing 600,000 euros ($876,000) in financing, saying they were unhappy about the lack of top artists.

Kindel blamed the embarrassing reversal on lack of preparation time for the Sep 26 event and what he called negative reporting by the Austrian media.

Jermaine Jackson was, meanwhile, quoted by APA as saying that London was now considered the ideal location because that was the city where Michael Jackson had planned his comeback concerts.

The attraction of Vienna, he had said earlier, had been Schoenbrunn, since his brother loved such settings so much. But, he said Friday: “If we’re not wanted in Vienna, we’ll go to London.”

The organisers had expected 65,000 people at the Vienna concert, with tickets for standing places priced between 63 and 212 euros, and seats costing up to 518 euros. London was expected to be cheaper.

Kindel said all those who had already bought tickets would be refunded. Organisers said they could not say how many tickets had been sold, but one Vienna agent said he alone had sold hundreds.

Celebrity website TMZ.com had reported Thursday that Natalie Cole was the latest announced star to distance herself from the event, quoting her representative as saying Cole was set to attend an event with the Dalai Lama around the same time in Memphis, Tennessee.

Browne’s representatives revealed Tuesday that he would not attend the concert because he needs special court permission to leave the country following his conviction for assaulting his former girlfriend Rihanna earlier this year.

Blige backed away from appearing at the tribute concert due to a concert at the same time in Madrid.

Organisers had claimed that Michael Jackson’s children and his mother, Katherine, were planning to attend the event, but reports in the US said that Katherine Jackson and other family members objected to the concert and would not attend.

Michael Jackson died June 25 at the age of 50 from an overdose of a powerful anaesthetic.

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