From The Guide, 12/24
NYE: This is it — the ‘ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute’
It must be busy being the world’s No. 1 Michael Jackson tribute band. There’s the flying from Singapore to Hawaii to South Carolina, the raging demand for classic MJ tunes that can now only be filled by apt cover artists and concert-footage films and the pressure of having to carry on the legacy of a pop-culture icon whose death sent shockwaves of grief through huge segments of the population.
We’re guessing here, of course. Because we got stood up for an interview with Who’s Bad, playing the Shoreline Ballroom on New Year’s Eve.
So that means we never got to ask founder Vamsi Tadepalli, a Durham, N.C., native and jazz instructor who has written music for the University of North Carolina marching band, how he gathered musicians from around the state to re-create the giant sound of the King of Pop. Or how he found not one but two singers who could pass as MJ, not just physically but also sonically, including lead singer Joseph Bell. Bell’s voice, which has the soft, high-pitched timbre of Michael’s, even helped nab the singer a small role in the TV movie “The Jacksons: An American Dream,” and he worked with a choreographer from the “This Is It” tour to perfect his moves.
And we didn’t get to ask about the attention to detail and intense choreography that has to go into re-creating one of the most lavish stage shows of all time, including the replica “Thriller” jacket, the wispy white shirt of “Black or White” and, of course, the hat and glove.
For diehard Michael Jackson fans, it sounds like the attention to detail of Who’s Bad may be as close as they come to seeing the man in the mirror.