Review and photos – Janet Jackson at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, August 26th, 2011
– review by Ria Nevada/photos by Tamara Lee
The “#1’s” sign gigantically printed on the curtains of the Queen Elizabeth stage accurately summed up the setlist of Janet Jackson‘s intimate concert in Vancouver.
For 90 minutes, diehard fans of all ages were treated to practically every chart-topper in the pop icon’s songbook. Groups of dolled up middle-aged women went absolutely berserk as soon as “Miss You Much” was launched on the jumbo screen as a teaser before the show. When Janet finally hit the stage with “Pleasure Principle”, the same women mimicked her every move and nuance, while their spouses and boyfriends were perfectly content ogling the alluring pop star. Flashing her famous sweet smile and dressed in tight black jeans and a white denim jacket, she looked fit, healthy and glowing, obviously excited to be back on the road doing what she does best.
Young families filled at least a quarter of the luxurious theatre, so nip-slips would have been frowned upon (Jackson’s Superbowl fiasco hasn’t been cast that far back into our cultural memory). But she still managed to inject some raunchiness in her performance. Gyrating her hips, jokingly fondling her back-up dancers’ packages and tugging down at her belt buckle, she put on quite the spectacle.
Everyone stood awe-struck watching the living legend bust out the sultry and aggressive choreography that influenced a whole generation of future pop stars (Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Usher all admit to idolizing Jackson for her style and originality). To see her flawlessly hit every pop, lock and spin on “Rhythm Nation” was absolutely unreal.
Jackson’s music has helped mark several milestones for generations of fans. It has been the soundtrack to 20 years’ worth of school dances, house parties, weddings, break-ups, etc. You can’t help but feel nostalgic when listening to her albums. But on her Up Close and Personal Tour, fans got the chance to see how Janet Jackson has blossomed over the years (a privilege since she’s tried her hardest to keep her personal life private – even hiding an almost decade-long marriage to Rene Elizondo, whom she divorced in 2000).
During an intermission, a film reel of her acting work – including roles on sitcoms like “Good Times” and “Diff’rent Strokes” – played, tracking Jackson’s evolution from the “girl next door” to sex-goddess, to the strong, powerful woman she is today. Similarly, her music marries playful and catchy beats with deep and reflective lyrics.
Jackson may not have divulged any major secrets or revelations in between songs, but her compositions revealed her attitudes towards her strict upbringing, tumultuous romantic relationships, and her sexuality. Despite the media circus she has dealt with her whole life, you could still see her innocence and bashfulness beaming through whenever she’d giggle or blush at her fans’ compliments and cheering. Modesty makes up a huge chunk of her charm.
While Jackson didn’t make any statements about her brother and his passing, she did dedicate the set closer “Together Again” to MJ through a slide show of childhood pictures, causing some mistiness in the room. But her brother’s memory did not cast a shadow on Janet’s personal accomplishments.
Last night’s concert was just further evidence of the successful road Janet Jackson paved for herself: a groundbreaking dancer, honest singer/songwriter, and respected actress, she will be regarded as a figure of perseverance, creativity, and soulfulness for many generations of artists to come.
Janet Jackson at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver, Aug 26 2011 setlist:
Miss You Much (Intro)
What Have You Done For Me Lately
Miss You Much (Reprise)
Come Back To Me
Let’s Wait A While
Love Will Never Do Without You
When I Think Of You
All For You
That’s The Way Love Goes
More Janet Jackson photos: