As I entered the Festival Theatre for Janet Jackson's Number Ones: Up Close and Personal Tour, I overheard a young girl say 'I got my nipple pierced when I was 13 years old because of Janet Jackson!' That kind of influence alone sums up the pop culture powerhouse that is Janet Damita Jo Jackson.
The tour, her first in Australia since The Velvet Rope in 1998, took the biggest and best from Ms Jackson's career, along with a few fan favourites, and transformed them into a joyous, high-energy, 2-hour long celebration. This was no typical self-indulgent pop concert; the focus on the music and intimacy with fans rather than flashy outfits or grand stage productions was proof alone that Jackson can still hold a crowd in the palm of her hand.
Starting with a video dedication (Adelaide's song was Any Time, Any Place), the show was hit after hit after hit. Did she stop for a breath? It sure didn't seem like it. Opener The Pleasure Principle flowed seamlessly into What Have You Done for me Lately?, Control, Nasty and Feedback. Performing nearly all the songs in medley-style was a smart move; fans got bang for their buck with as many hits as possible crammed into the night's show.
The ballad segment was in short, hypnotizing. Janet's oft-criticized vocal range truly shone in an intimate setting like the Festival Theatre, and she gave some of her best vocal performances to date with songs Nothing, Come Back to Me and Oscar-nominated Again.
The songs stayed true to their original reincarnations (phew!) and the dancing was just as fluid and uniform as Jackson's music videos. The breakdown during All For You and the move-perfect choreography from the MTV Award performance of If were as good as she gave them 10-20 years ago.
Janet couldn't wipe the smile off her face during Escapade and Alright; truly soaking up all the love and adulation from the fans. 'Thank you for all your love and support over the years, not just to me but to my family too', she said, beaming. Not even the video screen duet Scream with late brother Michael or dedication to him during encore Together Again could dampen the love-fest.
In the space of a few hours, Janet proved her icon status over and over. Few pop singers today could deliver such a celebratory and electrifying performance as she did. It was a true privilege to see a legend of Janet Jackson's level in such an intimate setting giving it all for you – the fans.
Janet Jackson's Number Ones is in stores now