When Michael Jackson's HIStory tour returned to Europe in the summer of 1997, I finally realized my dream of following a tour, if only for a couple of months. One of my friends and I travelled together and ended up becoming ‘tour pets’. We travelled from venue to venue on the giant trucks that hauled around the stage and equipment, and were at the front barrier at every concert before the gates opened to the public.
Touring is grueling, even for a fan! We were often exhausted from travelling and had to wait hours for every concert to begin, crushed against the front barrier, hot and thirsty. But as soon as Michael exploded onto the stage, we would forget all our discomfort and melt into his performance, captivated and mesmerized.
We always stood in the same position, to Michael’s right, alongside the other ‘regulars,’ some of whom had followed the entire tour, and a handful of whom had attended the Dangerous and Bad tours as well. Michael knew where to find us and would acknowledge us all in so many ways, making eye contact, reading our banners and pointing at us.
On most evenings, my friend and I would leave the concert just before the end of Heal the World (which was the second last song), try to figure out which route Michael was taking and walk as far as we could in that direction. When we heard the blast of the fireworks at the end of the concert, we would go to the nearest traffic light and wait there.
Sometimes our plan failed, either because we got the route wrong or the lights were green when he arrived. (Police would accompany him until he had cleared the stadium but would break away before he reached us.) But more often than not, Michael’s car would pull up beside us and we would stand at his window telling him how much we love him.
After the concert in Hockenheim in Germany, we bumped into Michael’s guitarist, Jennifer Batten, backstage (photo above). She told us that Michael had pointed us out to her one time while watching the crowd on a screen before a concert. He’d thought we were children who had run away from home to follow the tour :-).
We gave Jennifer a little gift for Michael with our photo. At the next concert, in Copenhagen in Denmark, he kept staring and pointing at us and during Heal the World, he bowed to us. It totally blew our minds!!!
I never met Michael properly on the HIStory tour but the connection that I’d made in Prague grew stronger and by the time I waved goodbye to him in Ostend in Belgium, he at least knew who I was and that I loved him with all my heart. That knowledge kept me floating until the next time I travelled to see him, which was to Munich, Germany, in July 1999.
Here is a list of the HIStory concerts I attended:
7 September 1996; Prague, Czech Republic
9 July 1997; Sheffield, England
12 July 1997; London, England
15 July 1997; London, England
17 July 1997; London, England
19 July 1997; Dublin, Ireland
1 August, 1997; Berlin, Germany
3 August, 1997; Leipzig, Germany
10 August, 1997; Hockenheim, Germany
14 August, 1997; Denmark, Copenhagen
16 August, 1997; Gothenburg, Sweden
19 August, 1997; Oslo, Norway
22 August, 1997; Talinn, Estonia
24 August, 1997; Helsinki, Finland
26 August, 1997; Helsinki, Finland
29 August, 1997; Denmark, Copenhagen
3 September 1997; Ostend, Belgium