Singer to play series of concerts before retiring

Michael Jackson returned to the stage Thursday after eight years marked by more scandal than music-making and told a crowd of screaming fans that he would play a series of London concerts before retiring from public performance.

Wearing his trademark sunglasses and a silver-embroidered black military-style jacket, he said the series of shows in July will be his “final curtain call.”

Jackson appeared at the 02 Arena – where the concerts will be staged – to announce the gigs.

“This is it. This is it,” Jackson said, as the fans screamed. “These will be my final shows, performances, in London. This is it. And when I say this is it, I mean this is it.

“This is really it. This is the final curtain call, OK? See you in July.”

Jackson didn’t specify how many shows he’ll play, though posters have shown he’s booked for 10 dates.

Tickets are expected to sell quickly for the shows, despite concerns the 50-year-old star may not be up for a return to the spotlight.

The King of Pop has been plagued by financial, legal, and medical woes for years and has not performed a major concert since 2001. His last studio album was released the same year.

A previous attempt to relaunch Jackson’s career collapsed amid reports of ill health and court action.

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