SLIDESHOW: Janet Jackson at Verizon Theater

—  Rich Lopez

REVIEW: Janet Jackson at Verizon on Saturday

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM JANET JACKSON’S PERFORMANCE

When Janet Jackson appeared on Saturday night, she wowed the crowd by singing from the aisles at the Verizon Theater. Opening with “Pleasure Principle” in her best Catwoman-like attire and sassy short ‘do, she sang into her signature headset mike and the crowd was immediately on board. Come to find out, this would be the most interaction she’d have with the sold-out audience all night.

Jackson is a superstar and you cannot deny her big hits over the years (save for maybe the past five), but her robotic performance was a letdown, and as much as people screamed and applauded, this show should have been a whole lot more. Instead, Jackson nary performed a full song. The concert was broken into medleys and so she opened with “Principle,” and finished seven songs later without skipping a single beat. A. Single. Beat. We got ample snippets of big hits like “Miss You Much,” “Control” and “Feedback” to name a few, but this was the gimmick the whole night long and wore thin pretty fast. A ballad medley followed, some more dancey ones and even the encore was a megamix. She never gave us time to just soak in and appreciate her songs. If this was Janet back to form, then let the fans eat it up.

We had to endure snippets of her dramatic acting with clips from Good Times, Diff’rent Strokes, Poetic Justice and Why Did I Get Married before heading into her slow songs. I wasn’t really sure the point of this other than reminding us that she is an actress. Other breaks included jam sessions and photo slideshows of Janet through the years. Perhaps she wanted to take us down memory lane, but that’s what the songs were for.

Her strongest set was the three-song medley of  “Scream,” “If” and “Rhythm Nation.” I think that owed a lot to incorporating brother Michael into the show (even if it was just the “Scream” video), but the strength of the songs and sharper choreography from the videos all played out the right way. The crowd seemed in a more uproarious frenzy at this point and where she seemed to be lagging off her dancing a bit mid-show, she seemed to pick back up here. This part of the concert is what we should have been seeing all night.

The finale medley ended with the one complete song of the night. After three black bodysuits, she changed into a white one and finished off with “Together, Again.” The song was accompanied by images of her and Michael through the years which was rather sweet. Minus a few “I love yous” and kisses blown to the audience, she never engaged much with her fans. I think this made the show restrained and lacking in personality. She never let us in and on top of her falling into an automaton performance, all that we were really left with was a hell of a dance party. It’s hard to resist not dancing along with the diva, but even though this tour is touted as a scaled-back event, the Up Close and Personal part was hardly that.

—  Rich Lopez

Janet Jackson tonight at Verizon

She’s doing it all for you

Let’s face it — Janet hasn’t been the hitmaker she once was and now she’s all into this acting thing. Now she’s on the road with her Number Ones tour and the buzz is good about her scaled-back show in smaller venues. We know what to call her when we’re nasty, but maybe after this concert, we can call her “great” again.

DEETS: Verizon Theatre, 1001 Performance Place. 8 p.m. $49–$125. Ticketmaster.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Concert Notice: Janet to play Verizon April 2

Well Verizon Theatre is kicking it up a notch this Spring. Just yesterday we posted Kylie Minogue will be hitting the Verizon stage in May and now “Miss Jackson If You’re Nasty” comes to town. LiveNation announced on their Twitter feed and Facebook than Janet Jackson Number Ones tour comes to the venue April 2. And she’s only performing the hits so this show should be just as exciting as this one.

But Verizon? JJ is an American Airlines lady at best. Well, LiveNation says she wants to get “up close and personal” on this tour:

This tour will differ from her previous concert schedules in that she will perform music exclusively from her chart topping CD NUMBER ONES. There will also be a focus on venues that will allow Janet to be up close and personal in a much more intimate setting. In each selected city JANET will offer something different to her performance so no show will be the same. This tour is JANET more revealed, more intimate, and more personal than ever before. Don’t look for special effects. Just listen to and look at Janet, as you have never seen her before.

OK, I’m kinda bummed about the no special effects cuz “Rhythm Nation” is da bomb when played out. But whatevs. Tickets are $49.50–$125 and go on sale this Saturday at 10 a.m.

—  Rich Lopez