17th July 2015
One of the more unquestionably hipster-friendly members of the legendary Jackson clan made the jazz-club-esque Under The Bridge - beneath the Stamford Bridge home of recently crowned Premier League champions Chelsea FC - his stage for a rare UK solo show.
Supplemented for Michael's iconic high-pitched vocal parts by talent from Thriller Live as the baritone singer performed the deeper-voiced lines largely reserved for Jermaine on the family's records, Tito - somehow in keeping with his modest persona - occasionally seemed relegated to mere guest at his own show.
The man who did so much to start the Jacksons' musical legend as a child when he famously broke his father's guitar strings alternated between showing off his always unsung talent behind the mic and strumming away guitar parts on hits ranging from the group's "Heartbreak Hotel" to "Black or White", the track made a chart-topper by Michael in 1991.
While the former brought the most famous Jackson's implicit presence front-and-centre through an exhibition of the departed Gloved One's potent songwriting signature - this song from the group's 1980 Triumph album having been largely a solo effort, albeit with a La Toya opening scream and a Tito guitar solo - "Black or White" showed its worth once again as a true 'stadium song'.
The gig had opened - after a pair of opening acts that included Larissa and Diane Shaw - with a smattering of Tito's little-heard blues numbers, the first a self-referential track doffing a cap to the Jackson 5. He then called on his support talent to power through a medley covering the Motown group's one-two-three punch of upbeat hits - "I Want You Back", "ABC" and "The Love You Save" - with "I'll Be There" an obligatory later stop-off point.
A pumping "Can You Feel It" was then delivered in tribute to the group's Epic years - the label erroneously referred to by Tito as "Sony Records" in one of a small number of spoken word introductions.
The crowd appetite for familiar smashes duly satisfied, some of the attendees - including this reviewer - headed for the rather snazzily-appointed toilet facilities as Tito introduced some country songs to his set. A return to pacier territory was marked by tracks like his celebratory 2011 single "We Made It", which might just have been the perfect way to close this show.
That role was reserved, instead, for another group chart-strutter from back in the day, the one referred to in the past by Tito as the band's definitive "disco hit": 1978's "Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)". Leaving the classily-fitted venue to the sound from the speakers of a cover of "Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming (Too Good To Be True)" - a Jermaine and Michael Jackson could-have-been hit from 1984 - I was left in no doubt that this was a fine place and night to be a Jacksons aficionado.
It was all the more of a shame, then, that such dweebiness could not have been better catered for by the line of "Tito Jackson merchandise" on offer near the door - an underwhelming selection of magnets, badges, Jackson 5 compilation CDs and a ladies', but oddly not a man's shirt. Wouldn't this have been the perfect spot for a few copies of Tito's long, long, long awaited debut solo album?
New studio material may have been referred to on stage by the man himself, but even with Tito's voice given another airing in concert after his live forays since 2012 with The Jacksons, the wait for a long-player from one of the more studio-shy members of America's most famous soul family continues.