September 10, 2001 01:00 AM

Eclectic was the word to describe Michael Jackson’s highly anticipated and ultimately uneven, four-hour plus Friday night concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The marathon length of the event that celebrated Jackson’s 30 years as a solo performer could be blamed on TV camera set-ups — once edited, the performance (and another set to take place Monday night) will become a CBS special. But it did cause some loud grumbling among concertgoers, some of whom paid $2,500 per ticket. Then there were the critics. “Jacko’s odd, awful show,” read the headline of the review in New York’s Daily News, while The Washington Post called the concert “240 Minutes of Lame.” As the Associated Press reported, Friday’s star roster included Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child, Ray Charles and Liza Minnelli, though it was Jackson, 43, who created the loudest buzz, even before uttering a single note. When he made his way to his seat, dressed in a white, glittery jacket with Elizabeth Taylor, 69, on his arm, he drew crazed screams and applause so intense that they drowned out Samuel L. Jackson’s introduction. By most accounts, the highlight of the night was Marc Anthony’s rendition of “She’s Out of My Life,” followed closely by Whitney Houston’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin.” The low point: Marlon Brando’s lecturing on the evils of greed. Bewildered, the crowd started to boo Brando, 78 — until he said that said Jackson was donating money to create a children’s hospital in Florida. Brando’s exit drew a standing ovation.

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