REVIEW: Janet Jackson at Verizon on Saturday

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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

DeLay, who warned U.S. would ‘go down’ because of gay marriage, is brought down by a lesbian

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg

If case you missed it, former House Republican Majority Leader Tom “the Hammer” DeLay was convicted Wednesday on felony charges of money laundering for illegally funneling corporate dollars into Texas state legislative races in 2002.

DeLay, who represented a Houston-area House district from 1984 to 2005, faces up to life in prison but says he will appeal the verdict.

DeLay had a decidedly anti-gay voting record in Congress, receiving the worst possible score of zero from the Human Rights Campaign in each of his last two sessions. A year before his indictment and resignation, DeLay spoke on the House floor in support of a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage:

“This nation knows that if you destroy marriage as the definition of one man and one woman, creating children so that we can transfer our values to those children and they can be raised in an ideal home, this country will go down,” DeLay said.

“So believe me, everybody in this country’s going to know how you voted today,” he said, his anger mounting with every word. “They’re going to know how you stood on the fundamental protection of marriage and the definition of marriage. And we will take it from here and we will come back, and we will come back, and we will come back. We will never give up. We will protect marriage in this country.”

Given DeLay’s record on gay rights, perhaps there’s some poetic justice to the fact that the district attorney who obtained the conviction, Rosemary Lehmberg, is an out and proud lesbian. Lehmberg, a Democrat, was elected to replace Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who initiated DeLay’s prosecution, after Earle retired in 2008. Before that, Lehmberg served as Earle’s first assistant for 10 years in the office that’s home to the state’s Public Integrity Unity, which is charged with investigating corruption in government.

Of course, DeLay’s prosecution had no more to do with Lehmberg’s sexual orientation than it did with her party affiliation, and none of the stories we’ve seen about his conviction even mention it.

Which is why we thought we would.

“I think that I serve as an individual who demonstrates that sexual orientation is not particularly relevant, except to your personal life, and therefore a lot of the homophobia and bias is unwarranted — the fear that people have,” Lehmberg told us following her election in 2008.

—  John Wright