Saxophonist Mike Philips keeps good company. He’s played the Super Bowl with Prince and Stevie Wonder, has played for Presidents Clinton and Mandela is now one of the featured musicians in The Cirque du Soleil presentation of “Michael Jackson: Immortal World Tour.” Philips has enjoyed a flourishing solo career as well, recording his CD “You Have Reached Mike Phillips” in 2002. Now as a featured performer on the Cirque tour, Phillips has the opportunity to pay tribute to another great every night.
“They extracted Michael's masters and custom made and tailored the songs to specific acts … Cirque is perfect for that," Phillips told Pittsburgh’s Post-Gazette.com. "They have a way of putting together a presentation that will bring you through different moods. Once that happened and I was in rehearsal, I was absolutely amazed. To look at the greatest artist of all time, the King of Pop, and the greatest company that could put on a spectacle like this, I think it's the perfect merger."
The show has been playing in the U.S. since the spring and continues its run in the U.S. through October. The third anniversary of Jackson’s untimely 2009 death was this week and people continue to pack the audiences to see how the singer’s music is interpreted by the world-renowned Cirque troupe. The show includes 35 Jackson songs, 21 people listed as creators (music directors, choreographers, set directors, acrobatic choreographers, lighting designers and more) 60 performers from around the world and includes audio of Jackson’s actual voice, finger snaps and foot stomps.
Phillips met Jackson once when he played on Prince’s Musicology tour and Jackson came to the show. His saxophone ability must have impressed him, because Phillips remembers him saying that he was “bad,” and requested him to play on “Behind the Mask.” Phillips says despite all the high-level artists and events he’s been a part of, working with Cirque du Soleil has become one of his most rewarding experiences.
"One of my favorite quotes goes something like, 'You might forget what someone said to you, sometimes you might forget what they do, but you'll never forget how they made you feel.' At the end of the night, that's what this is all about,” Phillips told the Post-Gazette. “Making people feel Michael's spirit through the presentation that only Cirque can put together."
For tickets and info go to cirquedusoleil.com.