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Icon impresses with stripped-down presentation of hits

What statement does a 51-year-old music superstar have left to make in the midst of a 35-year career marked by 11 albums, 10 number-one hits and a slew of iconic music videos? If you’re Janet Jackson, you can just show all facets of yourself — from the serious to the sensual — without the spectacle. And that’s what the singer did during a stop at the Schottenstein Center on Tuesday as part of her “State of the World Tour.”

Having renamed the tour following a hiatus to give birth to her son, Eissa, Jackson highlighted political content from her catalog, including “The Knowledge,” from Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, and “State of the World,” from Unbreakable. The singer opened the show with those two songs, following a dramatic video montage focused on social issues and featuring a list of unarmed African-American men killed by police.

That encapsulated the most political section of Jackson’s show. Next, she dove into an impressive series of hits, from “Nasty” and “Miss You Much” to “All for You” and “Love Will Never Do (Without You).” Once known for showing off her famously toned physique in revealing attire, she kept covered up in black pants and a black, long-sleeved top.

Sultry but not over-the-top sexy, Jackson strutted across the stage, flashing her signature, dazzling smile and flipping her long ponytail. She was accompanied by a crew of dancers in all white, which she called her “tribe.” To engage in the “Janet Jackson experience” also means engaging with her dancers and choreographers, who have always been an integral part of the package; alumni from her tours and videos have almost as much name recognition as Jackson.

But while the “State of the World” dancers were certainly talented and appeared to be a close-knit group, some of the spark was missing compared with previous “tribes,” which overflowed with personality and technique. For her part, Jackson kept up with the dancers, falling in and out of the choreography as she pleased — her commitment to the signature moves from the “You Want This” video elicited a joyous response from the crowd — instead of dancing through entire songs.

But her understated approach did not take away from her captivating performance — a sign of a seasoned entertainer who knows the choreography in her sleep, but is not sleepwalking through the execution. Nor did she have to rely on auxiliary distractions. Gone were the elaborate costume changes (which she famously filmed during the HBO broadcast of her 2001-2002 “All for You” tour) and colorful props she’d often wheel out for songs like “Escapade.” And no lap dances were given to audience members.

For the second section of the show, Jackson returned to the stage to sing a handful of slow songs such as “Twenty Foreplay” and “The Body That Loves You” while sitting on a stool. It was a familiar staple of her tours, though noticeably absent was the towel she once needed to dab the sweat worked up from hard dancing. But, as with previous shows, it wasn’t the most enthralling section, and the subsequent performances of songs such as the J. Cole-assisted “No Sleep” and classic “Got ’til it’s Gone” — featuring some impressive, smooth dance moves — were a welcome change. “That’s the Way Love Goes,” remixed with Aaliyah’s “Rock the Boat,” was a standout moment.

Jackson wrapped up with a fiery trio of songs — the unexpected “What About,” a moving commentary on domestic violence, followed by “If” and “Rhythm Nation,” bringing her political message full circle. The encore, including three songs from Unbreakable, was a bit underwhelming, if only because the material was unfamiliar. But it was fitting that she closed with “Well Traveled.”

“I’ve come a long way,” sang Jackson, a confident artist who doesn’t have to put on an extravagant stage production or dance like she’s 21 to cement her status as a legend. “Got a long way to go, ’cause I’m so well-traveled/Wherever life takes me I’m willing to go.”

  1. RN1814 says:

    Luther Brown talks about his work with Janet on several of her tours: http://bit.ly/2sND4Kw

  2. Sherry says:

    I love you Janet but I think you need to do something unexpected career wise.. To connect to the community or give back. Like visit some schools or hospitals , donate — do a few duets like with debarg or others— or collaborate with Beounsa on a baby song or do a video or home video or a over 40 baby talk something page — also congrats on your baby. I just had one my self at 49. I am about try for my second at 50 with a little help. Trying to strength my body now.

  3. Nickcole Collins says:

    Hello Janet I Been Thinking About u I Still Listen To Your Music I,am So Thrill And And Excited And Cannot Wait To See u Go On Tour Again In Orlando,Florida.I W Wish You Goodluck Your Baby so Adorable Take Care With Love bye.

  4. Nickcole Collins says:

    Hey Janet How U Been It Been A While It So Good To Hear From You.Congralation Your New Baby.He so adorable.Enjoy Your easter Sunday With Love.

  5. BILL says:

    Where is that famous mole ? both you guys have moles, does he have his dad’s mole, or your mole ? moles run in the family you know! You look Happy ! What should I seen you and the baby; and where? He looks like a REAL PRINCE TO ME!

    Well, you got you REAL PRINCE… and that makes you a REAL QUEEN too ! How long before he Moonwalks, a couple of years? Janet Jackson, you always get what you want. Its always been that way, but remember, you’re the youngest, am the oldest, and nobody says go, until you say GO….Well, when you go to a shoe store now, you can’t just think about yourself now. And for the first time in your life… you’ve got to think about somebody else first before your self… that must be new for you, who has everything. But there’s one thing for sure; he has lots of family to play with, and now its official, when get to Beverly Hills, he’s going to drive TMZ fans nuts, you an him, getting of a flight at LAX. Elssa, looks like he’s ready for anything. Remember the song, your daddy’s RICH and your mama’s BEAUTIFUL, not just good looking, so hus-up, little baby and don’t you cry. remember that song?
    all Elssa, needs to do is eat and get strong, now, you know boys are always taller than their fathers, so he’s going to be taller than 6’4. Wow, are you ready to start looking up, at you own son.
    Janet, I know you’re going to give Elssa, every advantage, so look for all those Your Baby Can READ products, and let him grow up with those products: Then I want to see him on LITTLE BIG SHOTS with STEVE HARVEY.

    Janet you know I can talk to you all night, but keep showing and sending those wonderful baby shots.
    Your Old man!
    you know by now, that’s what you need; young guys aren’t ready to settle down, young women keep hitting on them just because they want to put themselves on your level, but young men think its them the girls want, so they fall for that sh.., not me… you’ve always been three times faster than all your guys… they are no match for a real Queen like you…don’t you see !

    If you’re ready for real love and a real family give me a chance. http://www.secretnotes.info our future is on these pages,
    Long, Long life and HAPPINESS with GOD.
    type this in youtube bazjaz1

    Lave ya !
    Bill Bass

  6. BILL says:

    bazjaz1

    Type that name in youtube if you want to see a man still in love! you’re going to be the greatest Mom, such a lucky boy,Great times are on their way… now, you’re better than ever; A Queen Gatta do; what a Queen Gatta do! Right? And now you’re doing it.Wish he were mine. Did He even dance with you? Or wright you EVEN one LOVE SONG?

    JANET JACKSON, SOMEBODY REALLY LOVES YOU, GUESS WHO ? ME!
    And remember, those songs on youtube, are just storybords, to my Music Videos I’ll dedicate to you. I have 14 songs you, and only you inspired, 323.338.2876
    http://www.secretnotes.info
    Love you, PRAY FOR US, BILL BASS

  7. Spencer & Family says:

    Congrads Janet on the birth of your baby boy.

  8. Blake says:

    This site is really cool. I have bookmarked it.
    Do you allow guest post on your blog ? I can write high
    quality articles for you. Let me know.

  9. Nickcole Collins says:

    Hey Janet Jackson Like To Wish You A Great Happy Birthday. I will Celebrate and listen to your music.

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Laura Nov 30, 2017
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