CARDIFF, Wales — Chart-toppers, soul singers and three generations of Michael Jackson's family — including his children — celebrated the King of Pop at an energetic tribute concert, urging fans to focus on the late star's music rather than his death.
The runup to the "Michael Forever" concert Saturday was overshadowed by the Los Angeles manslaughter trial of Jackson's doctor, and marred by fan criticism, sluggish ticket sales and dissension within the Jackson family. But once the four-hour show started, Jackson's musical genius, and the warm tributes of friends and family, carried the night.
"We're very happy to be here on this special night to honor our father," said Jackson's 13-year-old daughter, Paris, who made a brief onstage appearance alongside brothers Prince, 14, and Michael Joseph Jr., 9, known as Blanket.
The children wore outfits evoking their father's styles — Paris most strikingly, in a red and black "Thriller"-style jacket.
On a stage shaped like a glove, Jamie Foxx, Christina Aguilera, Smokey Robinson, Cee Lo Green, Gladys Knight and other stars performed songs from Jackson's career — from his childhood with the Jackson 5 through monster solo albums like Thriller and Bad.
Participants urged fans to ignore the criticism and controversy, and to revel in the celebration of Jackson's musical legacy.
"It's not about the controversy," said R&B star Ne-Yo, who kicked off the show with a rendition of Billie Jean, complete with passable moonwalking. "It's not about the trial. It's not about his death. It's about celebrating his life. It's about celebrating his music."
The 50,000-strong crowd at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium did just that, roaring with approval as Jackson's brothers Marlon, Tito and Jackie — three-fifths of the original Jackson 5 — took the stage to perform Blame It on the Boogie with British boyband JLS.