Sunday, April 03, 2011

The 'Feedback' on Janet

The past few weeks have been a blur for me, with a slew of lots of promising new artists, brand new music and two incredibly epic live performances. But before I get to one, I can't not recount the other. Stay tuned for a full blast of the amazing time I had at the Simon Curtis show Friday. But to hold you over...

On the 21st, as I've mentioned previously, I was fortunate enought to finally see one of my absolute idols live in person. Janet Jackson stormed the stage at Radio City Music Hall here in New York City, and I got to see her on her final performance after three sold out shows at the iconic theatre.

Radio City Music Hall, for those of you who have never been there, is truly a gorgeous venue. It's large without being truly concert hall large, and the theatre itself is dome-shaped, lending itself to some amazing acoustics. I myself had never been until that night and was really wired from the moment I stepped foot in the place, mostly because of what the location meant and the history that had taken place within its walls. After nabbing some cocktails (that came with lightup stirrers), myself and my friends headed inside to the staging area. It was then that we realized how great our seats were. The venue is tiered, and we were seated in the first mezzanine, providing us with a view that was close enough to the action without being on top of the stage. 

Janet was introduced by an up and coming boy band Mindless Behavior, put together in 2008 by a pair of urban pop super producers. They had already opened for the likes of Justin Bieber and Jason DeRulo, but it was clear this was their biggest coup to date. We were plesantly surprised by the group's tight choreography and catchy beats, very akin to the B2Ks and Immatures of yore. Their sound is very radio friendly, and one of the highlights was their first single, the teenage love anthem of the 21st century that is "My Girl". It's kind of cheesy in that boy-band-erific way, and we all know how much I love me a boy band. As much of an impression as they did leave, however, it was hard to recall how exciting they were after the Queen took the stage.

The subject of Janet's current tour is her recent greatest hits compliation, Number Ones, highlighting her 35 number one hits (on any given assortment of charts) released in 2009 on the back of the Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins-produced single "Make Me". It was also her first outing since the death of her elder brother, Michael.

Having never seen Janet perform live other than in videotaped recordings prior to this, I don't think I was really ready for what I saw, but what I did re-confirmed what I already knew about Ms. Jackson. Not only is she an icon, worthy of the most supreme of praises for her incredible body of contributions to the world of pop music, but she is one of the fiercest artists I have ever seen grace a stage. Unlike her tours of the past, this one strove to be more "up close and personal" as she herself states, stripping away extensive pyrotechnics and elaborate sets for a very simple set up of band, dancers and large LED screenage, setting up various vignettes that wove together as a true medley of her music. Just when you thought you had heard your favorite, another song was cued up and you got even more amped.

Given that Janet is known for her dancing, I wasn't too optimistic in terms of how much she would be singing live, but I stand as a witness that she was not only dancing enough to break us into a sweat (in tight leather and stilettos to boot), she was also showcasing her truly unique voice. It was an invitation into Janet's world, and served as a great jumpoff point for anyone who is somewhat new to her music, as it played out like a introduction to what makes her great. (I continue to state that if I were to teach a music history class, both Michael and Janet would get their own semester-long courses.)

It would be impossible to go over every nuance detail, just suffice to say I had never sung along so loud to so many songs consecutively on my feet (in heels) in my life. Highlights included: singing along to "Again", watching her dance the iconic routine to "Rhythm Nation" in person, "If" (in its entirity), the power of "Scream" (with Michael in the background on the screen), and her dedication of "Together Again" as the encore closure to her late brother, giving it an entirely new meaning.

The full set list, as I saw it:

The Pleasure Principle
What Have You Done For Me Lately
You Want This
Miss You Much
Come Back to Me
Let's Wait Awhile
Doesn't Really Matter
Love Will Never Do (Without You)
When I Think of You
All For You
All Night (Don't Stop)
Call On Me
That's The Way Love Goes
I Get Lonely
Rhythm Nation

The Best Things In Life Are Free
Make Me
Together Again

Dear Popstars of Today, please step your game up. After seeing that live, it has become very difficult to impress me.


All photos were taken by yours truly. Please give credit and a link back if you choose to use. Thank you!

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