For a global pop star with nearly a quarter century of Top 40 hits, Janet Jackson's Up Close and Personal career retrospective concert Friday night left a lot to be desired.
Playing in front of a sold-out Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, Jackson raced through her 100-minute set, stringing together hit after hit in medley form. It was an easy way to deliver a lot of songs, but Jackson never seemed to commit fully to the show, coasting through her dance moves and looking a bit road worn from nearly four months on tour.
Opening with a combo of “The Pleasure Principle,” “Control,” “What Have You Done for Me Lately,” and “Feedback,” Jackson sang and danced her way through the night, accompanied by six dancers and an eight-piece band. The rabid die-hard audience full of her fans loved every minute of it, ignoring the fact that Jackson’s voice seemed a bit weak and buoyed by three backing singers.
The concert suffered from pacing too. When Jackson wasn’t smashing together her hits, she was often offstage, taking short breaks every 30 minutes or so while clips of her acting played on a large video screen or a photo montage showed Jackson’s iconic images (sadly though, she neglected to include the nipplegate photo from Super Bowl XXXVIII).
The night’s highlight was the final medley, which began with “Black Cat” and continued with “If,” “Scream,” and “Rhythm Nation.”
Jackson’s band rocked out “Black Cat,” and the audience loved the video duet with brother Michael on “Scream,” but with each song lasting only a couple minutes, you never really got to appreciate any of it. —Aaron Mendelsohn