Calgary, AB - Pengrowth Saddledome
CALGARY - Style, substance and sex appeal. Three things that most men are looking for in a woman.
Throw in a little nastiness and you've got yourself a complete unbeatable package.
Janet Jackson, who performed at the Saddledome last night to a vocal crowf of approximetaly 13,500 fans, almost
delivered the goods.
Unfortunately, she was missing one key ingredient that would have sealed the deal -- substance.
And so absent was that ingredient that it, for the most part, overshadowed all of her other fine features.
The youngest Jackson started her show -- her first Calgary appearance in 11 years -- with a bang. Literally,
thanks to a pair of flashpots.
And then came the whimper, as, in one of those priceless Spinal Tap moments, there was a malfunction with
the curtain that was supposed to part to reveal the diminutive pop starlet standing on a pesestal.
As a pair of stage hands attempted to yank it away manually, the energy -- built up by a sexy photo montage
projected on the curtain and then the explosions -- semed to evaporate.
Ah, you live by the theatrical stage showm you die by its imperfections.
From there, Jackson and her backup dancers did their best to pump things back up to a respectable level with
a trio of high-energy numbers -- Come On Get Up, You Ain't Right and the title track -- from her latest CD All For You.
Each was expertly choreographed to showcase Janet's sexy moves, and to detract from the fact that she, it
appeared, was lip syncing.
Actually for the majority of the evening, as she performed the hits from her two-decade long musical career
it seemed like her music -- exemely catchy R&B dance pop -- took a backseat to the dancing and theatrics. Each song was
more like a music video -- complete with numerous costume changes, and even pregnant pauses long enough to insert a commercial
-- than an actual piece of music.
And that's where the subsance was lost.
Even an attempt to strip things back to just the song, as was the case when she took centre stage with her
guitarist to perform a simple ballad, was demolished by completely insincere moment -- one that was as choreographed as the
dance moves -- as she shamelessly basked in a four-minute ovation and wept crocodile tears.
Perhaps, the most entertaining moment -- well, for fetishists, anyway -- was during the dirty, dirty Would
You Mind when Janet, clad in a tight, black PVC outfit, brought a (lucky) male fan out of the audience, strapped him to a
bondage table and proceeded to grind him like a waiter dispensing pepper at a four-star restaurant.
Bout once more it wasn't a good musical moment.
Then again, Janet Jackson shows have always been to musical concerts what Phantom of The Opera is to theatre.
Me, to truly be engaged by the characters on stage, I need them -- like my women -- to be more than two-dimensional.
JANET, FOR YOU
Toronto, ON - Air Canada Centre
TORONTO - Madonna, watch your back.
Since the former Material Girl has given up on a fun, dance-heavy show in favour of more serious themes and
wild theatricality on her recent Drowned World tour, it has left a void in the concert world for a certain kind of diva.
R&B-pop superstar Janet Jackson filled in more than capably last night during a tightly choreographed,
high-energy, two-hour show at the Air Canada Centre.
The 35-year-old singer, currently touring in support of her latest album All For You, made a dramatic entrance
before 13'500 fans after two video screens aside the stage showed her variety of guises over the years.
When the curtain dropped, Jackson -- dressed like a city slicker-meets-cowgirl in a white fedora, beige breaded
halter top and low-riding fringed pants -- was revealed all by herself atop an elevated pedestal in the centre of the large,
white-tiled, minimalist stage.
For the next three songs, Come On Get Up, You Ain't Right, and All For You, Jackson, joined by her
eight dancers, didn't stop mocing and the crowd -- on their feet and dancing themselves -- certainly seemed to like it that
They also ate up Jackson's numerous changes of costume, most of which showed off her awesome muscled arms
and chiselled stomach.
There was everything from a fuchsia halter and eastern-inspired skirt ensemble amidst a playhouse set -- recycled
from her 1998 Velvet Rope tour -- to a bright blue bandleader-meets-cheerleader top and tiny, tiny pair of shorts.
But it was the dominatrix-inspired, black PVC catsuit that she donned for an interesting S&M display of
audience interaction during the new song Would You Mind, that they really nuts for.
Particularly fond of the outfit was the guy she plucked out of the crowd to strap to a furney suitable for
Hannibal Lecter and than proceeded to crawl all over him for the duration of the hot and heavy song.
I myself thought Jackson did her best when accompanied by her ensemble for some military-like precision dancing
during Rhythm Nation and the more upbeat and warm trio of encore numbers Doesn't Really Matter, Someone
To Call My Lover, and Together Again.
It should also be pointed out that Jackson did take the odd breather, seated on a stool opposite her guitar
player for the early trio ballads Come Back To Me, Let's Wait A While, and Again which prompted both singalongs and
some of the biggest cheers of the night when she merely paused during the song Again. Stuffed animals, and white
and red roses were also thrown her way.
Meanwhile, Jackson's seven-piece band was eventually revealed when a panel opened on her white backdrop --
but they played second fiddle to the sheer power of her presence.
The singer was forced to postpone her concert last month in Milwaukee just hours before showtime when she
chipped a tooth and had to undergo a root canal.
And before that, her tour launch in Vancouver on July 5 was delayed when a piece of equipment failed to show
up on time.
But Jackson's well-oiled touring machine showed no signs of failur last night.