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'See you in July!' says Michael Jackson, announcing comeback

Four years after his acquittal in a child-abuse trial, Michael Jackson announced his return to the concert stage in a press conference Thursday at London's O2 arena.

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AFP - Pop megastar Michael Jackson announced Thursday he will play a series of comeback concerts in London in July, his first major shows for over a decade.

Four years after his infamous child abuse trial, the 50-year-old singer of hits including "Thriller" and "Billy Jean" confirmed he will play 10 gigs at the giant London O2 Arena starting on July 8.

"I'll be performing the songs my fans want to hear," Jackson said in an announcement at London's O2 Arena where thousands of screaming fans had gathered.

"This is the final curtain call and I'll see you in July," said Jackson, wearing sunglasses and a black jacket with silver sequins as hundreds of fans, some holding placards saying "Michael We Love You," screamed with delight.

True to his reputation for eccentricity, Jackson's brief appearance was punctuated by salutes to the crowd, pauses, and expressions of love for his fans.

"I love you, I really do. I love you so much," he gushed. "From the bottom of my heart," he added, totally ignoring an autocue which had been set up at a podium for him to speak.

His appearance was preceded by a short video compilation of past performances of his hits, heavy on shots of weeping and screaming fans, especially when he performed his famous moonwalk.

In real life Jackson didn't show any of his old moves. But fans who had queued for hours to see their idol for a couple of minutes were bowled over, despite the brevity.

"I was expecting a bit more but... I've queued up for five hours for him to say about 10 words," said Caroline Shove, 29. But asked whether she would be buying tickets, she said: "Absolutely, it won't stop me."

Katherine Taylor, 21, had waited for six hours. "He's fantastic. It's refreshing to see something like that."

It was unclear whether his reference to a "final curtain" meant there would be no concerts after the London shows, although he did say: "These will be my final show performances in London. This is it.

"And when I say that this is it, I really mean that this is it."

Reports suggest Jackson could make tens of millions of dollars from the residency-style string of London concerts, helping pay legal bills and debts racked up since the collapse of the abuse trial in 2005.

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