ATLANTIC CITY -- At long last, after two postponements and more than two years passed since the tour was first announced, Janet Jackson finally found her way to New Jersey.
The pop icon's State of the World Tour, rebranded as such after her Unbreakable World Tour was halted in 2015 for surgery and again in 2016 for Janet's pregnancy -- her first at age 49 -- was, thankfully, a winner inside Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City Friday night, featuring a trove of pumping hits and relentless dance routines that rivaled the choreography of mega-stars half Jackson's age.
While the ongoing tour technically functions as a booster for Jackson's 2015 "Unbreakable" album, nostalgia was surely the greater focus here: the fan-worshipped albums "Control" (1986), "Rhythm Nation 1814" (1989), and "Janet" (1993), were all given ample space to pulse once more and remind any younger attendees of Jackson's past pop reign -- 10 No. 1 singles, more than 100 million records sold, all "wardrobe malfunctions" be damned.
There was a certain vintage quality to the tour's production as well; Jackson and as many as 10 dancers popped and shimmied on a basic, rectangular stage with virtually no props beyond an occasional chair or stool. Two vertical screens descended from the rafters every so often, but by and large the songs and their tight choreo provided the greatest thrills.
Jackson, 51, has yet to lose a step and remained in perpetual motion for the 105-minute performance, flanked by the troupe of acrobatic dancers as she glided and twirled in her black boots and jumper, her back-length ponytail blowing in the wind machine. Akin to her brother, Jackson still performs with a headset microphone for full range of motion, not that it really mattered -- like Michael, much of her vocal is provided via backing track and she didn't say much to the audience this night.
The crowd ate it up, cheering wildly for early set medleys that included Janet staples "Nasty," "Miss You Much" and "Control." Though the show did feel a bit top-heavy, with some of Jackson's hugest hits firing off too soon. By the time she got to the more mellow medley of "Where Are You Now" / "Come Back to Me" / "The Body That Loves You," it seemed as though the show had hit its valley.
But a few golden bullets remained and the crowd of 10,000 exploded for the airy smash "Together Again" and chanted through the booming set closer "Rhythm Nation."
All night Jackson was quick to flash her million-watt smile, though the show was bookended in solemnity: before the first song a montage of injustices -- wars, police brutality -- played on the screens but little more held that tone until 1997's "What About" came late in the set and was met with dancers depicting drug and domestic abuse through a fairly moving interpretive dance. At its end the crowd roared for the intense performance and Jackson began to cry.
It was a real if not fleeting moment. If there was any statement to be made this night it was that Janet, Ms. Jackson if ya nasty, remains an electrifying, arena-worthy entertainer -- when she actually shows up, that is.
Janet Jackson plays Prudential Center in Newark Nov. 19. Ticket information available here.
Janet Jackson's set list
Nov. 10, 2017 -- Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City
- "The Knowledge"
- "State of The World"
- "Nasty" / "Feedback" / "Miss You Much" / "Alright" / "You Want This"
- "Control" / "What Have You Done for Me Lately" / "The Pleasure Principle"
- "Escapade" / "When I Think of You" / "All for You"
- "All Nite (Don't Stop)"
- "Love Will Never Do (Without You)"
- "Again" (Instrumental video interlude)
- "Twenty Foreplay"
- "Where Are You Now" / "Come Back to Me" / "The Body That Loves You"
- "Spending Time With You"
- "No Sleeep"
- "Got 'til It's Gone"
- "That's The Way Love Goes"
- "Island Life"
- "Together Again"
- Interlude (Interlude with "Idle" by Spooky Black)
- "What About"
- "Rhythm Nation"
- "Livin' in a World" (They Didn't Make) (Video interlude, containing elements of "Racism")
- "Black Eagle"
- "New Agenda"
- "Dammn Baby" / "I Get Lonely"
- "Well Traveled"
Bobby Olivier may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BobbyOlivier. Find NJ.com on Facebook....Read more