Fiercely clawing her way back to musical relevance, Janet Jackson performed to a sold out (Yes, sold out) crowd in Washington, DC on March 22nd & 24th at D.A.R. Constitution Hall.
Ever since her accidental “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl, Janet Jackson's brand as a recording artist has taken a freefall straight to rock bottom. Flop album after flop album, a dry spell on the singles charts for almost seven years, followed by a universally panned and subsequently canceled arena tour with disappointing ticket sales and lackluster critical reviews, citing Janet’s weight gain and lethargic performances...let's just say that Janet's comeback was a bit overdue.
The Number Ones: Up Close and Personal World Tour celebrates Janet’s 30+ year musical career as a pop icon, running fans through her 35 number 1 world hits. Janet says she chose smaller venues to be closer to her fans. BS. Her choreographer Gil Duldulao spilled the tea on the real purpose of this tour.
With Janet’s relevancy on the charts being non-existent and her ability to pack seats on a tour in question, topped by the fact that she cancelled mid-way through, she was seen as very high risk to investors and tour insurance agencies.
They did not want to invest millions of dollars and time only to have Miss Jackson unexpectedly unable to fulfill her obligations [again]. So in short, this is a trial run for Janet the brand, and thus far she is passing every test, kicking ass and taking names at every venue.
With the irrelevant opening act Mindless Behavior out the way, Janet appeared on stage decked out in leather, making it clear how she got the nickname “Donk”; who knew all that was back there?!
The two hour set kicked off with “Pleasure Principle”, making it very apparent from the beginning she was indeed singing live, albeit singing to a backing track. The track was there for support not to do the heavy lifting. (Hey, Britney!)
From there she segued into the first of many medleys of her biggest dance hits including: “Control" / "What Have You Done for Me Lately" and "Feedback,” executing the robotic choreography with technical precision; the crowd went crazy when the beat dropped and Janet punctuated her thin vocals with just bass “Be.fore we go a.ny.more fur.ther."
30 minutes into the show, Janet slowed things down with the ballads segment. Clad in a regal purple gown and donning a hand held microphone Janet coo’ed her way through the bland “Nothing”, and fan favorites “Come Back To Me”, “Lets Wait Awhile”, and “Again.” While never pushing her effectively instrument to more than a two note melody, there was an innocent sweetness to her voice that resonated within the venue.
Janet may be a serial whisperer and horrible enunciator on a track, but when she’s not overshadowed by production and pro tools, Miss Jackson can actually sing with emotion.
After another video montage of her ‘Velvet Rope’ era and a change into a more athletic [black] tour outfit Janet came back with the dance floor agressor “All Nite (Don’t Stop)." Janet’s moves were sharp and crisp, matching her dancers count for count; however, the zestful oomph and effortless tenacity from her youth was missing.
The strain of the two hour show consisting of semi-live singing (60/40) paired with full-out technical choreography showed clearly on Janet’s face. What was once a defiant ‘poker face’ of confidence and bravado while killing a breakdown now reads as a slightly uncomfortable grimace.
After the sensual and grind-tastic “That’s The Way Love Goes” and “I Get So Lonely” (dedicated to D.C.), Janet segued into her last medley of “Black Cat”, “If”, “Scream” and “Rhythm Nation.” Shedding her rnb/dance diva, Janet stepped into the shoes of a fearless rock star, writhing around on stage, crotch grabbing and head-banging. It was a metaphorical orgasm for the senses as Janet reminded her adoring fans why she is one of the greatest female entertainers. Ever.
Her encore again reunited her, if only in memory, with the late Michael Jackson, as images of the two siblings flashed on the video screen during “Together Again,” now a tribute to MJ. It was an appropriate snapshot of a duo that dominated pop music for 40 years, selling hundreds of millions of albums between them.
And even though Janet's boots are a bit, she's not ready to give up her shoes just yet. Janet Jackson is still more than capable of showing her “head-set mic” imitators how it’s done.
- So over the bald, newborn, 'slick-back.' Janet needs a long weave to add drama (Her sister LaToya has plenty)
- The audience was on their feet the entire time, all races, sizes, orientations and ages; no boundaries.
- At one point Janet knocked her mic away from her mouth; when the singing stopped (revealing she was SINGING LIVE) the crowd lost their minds!!