That was fast. No sooner had Michael Jackson announced that he was going to play a 10-show run at London's 20,000-capacity O2 Arena in July as part of his live-performance swan song, than the show's promoter has added 17 more dates to the run. Due to the crush of presale demand for the gigs, promoter AEG Live opened up another set of dates that will keep the self-proclaimed King of Pop in London through September.
With the addition of the new gigs, Jackson beats the previous record for a residency at the venue: [artist id="14481"]Prince's[/artist] 21-night stand in 2007. Randy Phillips, CEO of AEG Live, had promised in interviews that, depending on demand, the Jackson run at the O2 could smash the previous records at the venue. AEG has reportedly cut a multiyear, multimedia deal with Jackson that could include a big-screen 3-D adaptation of "Thriller," as well as a new album, a world tour and other ventures.
Half of the tickets for the initial run of 10 shows were available for presale on Wednesday morning (March 11), and they sold out within hours, according to The Associated Press. Amid reports that some who preregistered were unable to get through, a spokesperson for Ticketmaster apologized and chalked the glitch up to the "unprecedented level of demand." The other half of the tickets for the initial run, which kicks off on July 8, will be made available on Friday when the event is open to the general public. Jackson will now be at the arena through September 27.
Considering Jackson's reputation for high-energy, effects-heavy shows, tickets for the concerts are relatively inexpensive at $70 and $105. Jackson said in last week's press conference that the shows, billed as "This Is It," would be his final live performances, but it is unclear if he meant in London or his last performances anywhere. Phillips has suggested that the London run could be followed by a world tour.