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Janet Jackson’s message-laden ‘State of the World’ tour drawing raves

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Be prepared for Janet Jackson to take the mantle for social change when she brings her “State of the World” tour to Quicken Loans Arena on Sunday.

The tour, a revamped continuation of her “Unbreakable” tour from 2015, which was postponed for her to bear her first child, launched in Lafayette, Louisiana, in September.

“I decided to change the name of the tour,” she said when the tour was announced. “It’s not about politics. It’s about people, the world, relationships and just love.”

A reviewer for Essence magazine had this to say about that launch:

“The 51-year-old opened with a video showing the evils of white supremacy and xenophobia. Having a child of Muslim heritage, the message hit close to home for the always-conscious Jackson family member who’s raising a child in Trump’s America.”

Jackson’s marital issues surfaced in her Houston tour stop. She and husband Wissam Al Mana, the father of her son, Eissa, married in 2012 and are in the process of divorcing. During that Houston show, as she sang her 1997 hit “What About,” a tune that focuses on physical and emotional abuse and coming face to face with it.

According to ABC News, a fan’s Periscope video showed Jackson breaking down in tears as she sang, then telling the crowd “This is me.”

That doesn’t mean she’s not still gaining fans. And we’re talking NAME fans. Busta Rhymes has known the “Rhythm Nation” singer for a long time, but this month, he caught her live. Billboard reached out to him and described him as “gushing.”

It’s an accurate use of the word.

“Me being an artist myself, I’m super-inspired in a whole new way,” he told the magazine. “She is probably the most incredible, timeless, God-sent talent that I’ve ever seen in my life — I salute you queen!”

The Washington Post did its own gushing, and honestly made Rhymes’ effusiveness seem like that of a shy teenager:

The Post reviewer, writing said of her Nov. 16 show in the nation’s capital, that it made the artist “one of our greatest living pop stars, a singer whose zero-gravity falsetto can make heaviness feel light and lightness feel heavy. As a stylist and a utopian, she’s a bridge between Parliament-Funkadelic and Beyonce — or maybe a bridge into a future that still awaits us.”

Glenn Gamboa, formerly a critic for the Akron Beacon-Journal and now with Newsday in New York City, took in her show at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“The first 40 minutes of her show was dizzying, moving from the socially conscious opening volley of ‘The Knowledge’ and ‘State of the World’ to the fast-paced medleys that gathered impressive strings of hits and fan favorites — including a trio of songs from her breakthrough album ‘Control’ — and updating the choreography without letting any of her trademark moves pass.” Gamboa wrote.

The Allentown Morning Call was equally impressed with her show there earlier in November, extolling her dance moves and energy first, and then moving to her vocals.

“Her voice was good, too — though it’s hard to say all the vocals were live, many certainly were; showing that Jackson’s voice was never the strongest, but she sang with aplomb, weaknesses and all,” wrote critic John J. Moser. “She even did a high falsetto on ‘Pleasure Principle,’ and sounded a lot like her late brother Michael on ‘Where Are You Now.'”

Janet Jackson
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec.3.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Center Court, Cleveland.
Tickets: $55 to $135, plus fees, at the box office, at Discount Drug Marts, online at theqarena.com and by phone at 1-888-894-9424.

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