Janet Jackson 04/02/11
Verizon Theater – Dallas, TX
Words/Photos By Steven Anthony
Janet Jackson made a stop at Dallas’ Verizon Theater this past Saturday night as part of her “Number Ones – Up Close and Personal” tour. What the promoters haven’t told you is that this is less “up close and personal” and more “Janet has to play smaller venues; She bombed her last arena tour.”
Regardless, the Verizon Theater was sold out (~6,300) and shortly after 8PM the lights dimmed and Janet was ready to silence any who were questioning her ability to put on a good show.
For a little under 2 hours Janet ran through her biggest hits. The concert served as a reminded of the massive success Janet has had as an artist since the early 80s. At each show on this tour she’s been dedicating a song to each city and plays the respective video before coming out on stage. Dallas got “Black Cat”.
After the video ended, some audience members on the right side of the lower level began screeching, causing everyone to look in their direction. There was Janet, walking through the crowd like she owned the venue. Opening with “The Pleasure Principle,” Janet made her way to the stage donning a skin-tight leather suit.
It was immediately clear that Janet takes her live show seriously; The woman can still dance and had no problem pulling off the classic moves. From the photo pit, it was clear that Janet was not lip-synching. Whether she remained that way the entire evening or not, only those in the first few rows can tell you.
“The Pleasure Principle” segued directly into “Control,” again featuring the dance moves from the original video. Janet’s live band was incredibly tight, sounding just like the record but with a little increased focus on the drum and bass elements of the song instead of the piercing synth lines.
“Control” morphed into “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”, moving the show along at a breakneck pace. The night would find several more medleys instead of the full versions of the tracks; For the most part these work out better live, focusing on the most catchy hooks and the most danceable breakdowns. Some fans have expressed a distaste for this medley system, but Janet and her band have trimmed out some of the fat to cram in as many hits as possible. It’s a decent compromise.
“Feedback” found Janet briefly on all fours moving around like a cat before standing up for some very classic dirty dancing. Janet’s aged well and moves just as good as one could hope; Straight men who had been dragged to the show with their girlfriends surely stayed entertained the entire evening.
A medley of “Alright,” “Miss You Much” and “Nasty” was next, the latter getting the loudest reaction from the crowd this far into the evening. Instead of keeping the dance party going however, Janet and her dancers left the stage for a brief interlude.
Janet returned to the stage by herself to run through a string of her biggest ballad songs. Up first was the newer “Nothing,” followed by “Come Back To Me,” “Let’s Wait Awhile” and “Again”.
Janet sounded great and the songs deserved their moment in the show, but towards the end of the ballad segment things seemed to slow to a crawl. Perhaps mixing two of the tracks somewhere else in the set could have helped out, but that’s apparently not the way a Janet show goes.
A string of significantly more danceable hits was next. As Janet made her way to “All for You,” the crowd was a massive writhing pit of different races, sexualities and even nationalities (I saw more than one Brazilian flag) dancing together. It’s powerful to see pop music bring so many different people together all in the name of having a good time.
The biggest highlight of the entire evening was a medley of “If,” “Scream” and “Rhythm Nation”. Tightly choreographed and carefully whittled down to just a few verses and choruses, the three songs melded together into a giant, intensely heavy dance track.
When the “Scream” segment started, the video (and Michael Jackson) appeared on stage. It was hard to hear the song over the cheering at the first image of Janet’s late brother to grace the stage for the evening. Janet did the song proud, nailing the entire dance break and singing her original parts of the song (including the middle ballad section).
“Scream” seemed to suddenly stop and Janet began counting backwards from five. When she got to one, the dancers immediately started into the breakdown from “Rhythm Nation” garnering a huge amount of applause from the crowd. Every time the chorus came around the audience sang along, overpowering Janet’s own voice.
Janet’s encore performance of “Together Again” again saw pictures of Michael Jackson on the video screens, causing another roar of applause. The song takes on a whole new meaning for Janet since her brother’s passing and it was a touching way to end the show.
While this tour may have been placed into smaller venues because the last arena tour didn’t do so well, the “up close and personal” format really works out in the best interest of fans. There were no bad seats in the house for the show in Dallas, and while tickets are a bit on the pricey side, Janet knows how to put on a show.
Setlist: Black Cat (Video), The Pleasure Principle, Control, What Have You Done For Me Lately?, Feedback, You Want This, Alright, Miss You Much, Nasty, Nothing, Come Back To Me, Let’s Wait Awhile, Again, Escapade, Love Will Never Do (Without You), When I Think Of You, All for You, That’s The Way Love Goes, What About (Interlude) If, Scream, Rhythm Nation, Diamonds, The Best Things In Life Are Free, Make Me, Together Again