Michael Jackson on stage: wow - and sometimes, ow! This is how the Herald reviewed Michael Jackson's show in November 1996.

Wow!...Oh dear!...Wow!

That was pretty much the repeated sequence for New Zealand's first encounter of the concert kind with Michael Jackson. It certainly felt like An Event, with the 40,000-strong audience.

But the show, while endlessly impressive for its size, dancing, theatrics, and lighting, really rose or fell on Jackson's individual song and dance numbers, most events in themselves.

His many lengthy pauses (most for costume changes while the video screens projected homages to the performer's past) helped to make this two-hour spectacle feel very long. And it still managed to leave out some significant tracks of his own back catalogue.

As for the oh-dear bits, they weren't just overwrought, they were great flash floods of cringe-worthiness, involving either Jacko-as-pop-wonder-victim or Jacko-as-superhero.

But the wow stuff was there from the start, right from the rocketship entrance - virtually the last time he stood still on stage for the next two hours - which was the launching pad for his woe-is-me hit Scream.

With the sound mix patchy in the first few numbers, the pop magic didn't really fire until Something About You. It, along with the likes of a finger-poppin' The Way You Make Me Feel, proved that Jackson is at his unbeatably grooviest when the moods of his songs are exuberant, not angry tantrums.

Among some video-screen interludes were a couple of shimmering ballads. You Are Not Alone had him slow-dancing with a slightly overcome girl from the audience (aww...), while I'll Be There had him addressing the Jackson Five brothers he left behind and leaving a long pause for a bit of a sob (Oh dear).

Out of that damp patch it was a too-quick medley sprint through disco-era pure pop like boogie from Off the Wall like Rock With You and Don't Stop (Til You Get Enough).

Then it was down through the years with all those dance-crazed videos as cues: Bille Jean, with the sparkling glove, Thriller with the zombies and werewolf mask, Beat It with the fisticuffs, and Black or White with the mock flaming wall of guitar amps. Great stuff all of it.

Near the end of the cringe-meter was back into the red. It got no higher than during Earth Song when a tank (as in Tiananmen Square/Gulf War/Bosnia) rolled on and came up against Jacko, one-man peacekeeping force.

Smiling superhero Mike left the vehicle's gun-toting soldier a sobbing mess despite being armed only with a small child and bunch of daffodils.

And just so that we didn't have nightmares about that later, we got a seemingly endless chorus of the emetic Heal The World.

"I love you," he told us quite a few times in that funny voice of his, and that was it.

Not a great believer in leaving them wanting more is Michael Jackson. But for sheer spectacle...um, wow!

Jackson's second and final concert is tonight.