Last night, Janet Jackson’s “Number Ones: Up Close & Personal” Tour touched down at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The sold out venue – I repeat – sold out venue was packed with adoring fans ranging in age who were ready to celebrate the icon.
As part of the Number Ones: Up Close and Personal Tour, Janet dedicates one of her #1 hits to each city she visits while on tour. So what was the choice track of the night for Radio City Music Hall? “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” her duet with the legendary Luther Vandross, which was part of the “Mo’ Money” soundtrack.
As the Number Ones “Janet” logo flashed across the screen, the band kicked into the opening chords of Ms. Jackson’s 1987 hit, “Pleasure Principle,” and the singer appeared center stage. The crowd whipped into a frenzy which set the tone for the entire evening. With intense focus, Ms. Jackson coaxed the crowd as she segued into perhaps one of her most defining career hit “Control.” She proclaimed “This is a story about control…my control… NEW YORK, do you want MORE?” Naturally, the audience went nuts, which led to a slight smirk from Ms. Jackson — who was proud to be “home.”
She finished off the first medley set with “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” and Discipline’s “Feedback,” then paused ever so briefly to take a temperature check on the audience. “NEW YORK, do you want more? I said. Do YOU want more? Do you WANT THIS?,” she questioned, before she launched into her hit from 1993 top-seller Janet.
After 30 minutes of pure performance, Ms. Jackson exited the stage for a costume change then re-emerged for the slow section of the show. Perched on a stool and dressed in a beautiful violet gown, the singer treated fans to a ballad retrospective which included “Nothing,” “Come Back To Me,” “Let’s Wait a While,” and beloved “Again.” The crowd sang and swayed with Ms. Jackson who soaked in the love as she flashed her trademark smile.
The next segment of the show included “Doesn’t Really Matter,” “Escapade,” “Love Will Never Do,” When I Think of You,” (Ms. Jackson’s FIRST #1 hit) “All For You,” “All Nite (Don’t Stop),” “That’s The Way Love Goes,” and a soothing performance of “I Get Lonely.”
As many of you Janet fans already know, it’s the choreography (mostly Tina Landon’s) that has defined her career and set her apart from contemporaries, including the newer crop of performers. From the military-inspired “Rhythm Nation,” to the more fluid “That’s The Way Love Goes,” and “I Get Lonely” to the in-you-face-sexy “If,” it was apparent that Ms. Jackson hasn’t lost a step — even at 45. And the choreography couldn’t be more electrifying than during the show’s next to last medley which included “Black Cat,” “If,” “Scream,” with MJ tribute, and “Rhythm Nation.” Seriously, at one point I think my heart stopped beating and I was running on pure adrenaline.
Throughout the night fans faithfully performed their own rendition of each song’s choreography — some better than others — as a tribute to the entertainer. There was one fan in particular (front row, stage right), who caught the eye of Ms. Jackson as he performed the entire catalogue of choreography in lock-step with her. A touched Janet honored his dedication and danced with him from the stage during the entire chorus of “Escapade” before she declared “You are too beautiful – I love you.” It was at that exact moment when I realized why she selected Radio City Music Hall as her venue of choice – that level of interaction is just not possible at MSG or comparable arena.
In a just over two hours, Ms. Jackson cemented her iconic status in the pop music world and put to rest any rumors that her career was over. She will be remembered as one of the greatest entertainers of our time — but truth is, she’s not ready to bow out of the game just yet. Why would you with 33 #1 hits (and counting…) under your belt?
Full Set List:
Best Things In Life Are Free – Music Video
Pleasure Principle/Control/What Have You Don’t For Me Lately?/Feedback
You Want This/Alright/Miss U Much/Nasty
Nothing/Come Back To Me/Let’s Wait A While/Again
Doesn’t Really Matter/Escapade/Love Will Never Do/ When I Think of You
All For You/All Nite (Don’t Stop)/That’s The Way Love Goes/I Get Lonely
What About Instrumental/Black Cat/If/Scream/Rhythm Nation
Diamonds/Best Things in Life Are Free
Throb/Make Me/Together Again
“Nothing/Come Back To Me/Let’s Wait a While”
“All Nite (Don’t Stop)”
“I Get Lonely”