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Janet makes up for lost time
with thirty-seven workout

Janet Jackson
Allstate Arena
Rosemont, IL
Sept. 25, 2008
Janet Jackson

Review by Andy Argyrakis
Publicity Photo

Just two years ago, it appeared as though Janet Jackson was going to hit the road in attempts to bounce back from a particularly poor career period plagued by sluggish album sales and the infamous Super Bowl snafu. Though she was in tour rehearsals, the plug on that outing was pulled after prompting from her record label to wait for a new album, which the veteran singer/songwriter/dancer/producer delivered earlier this year via "Discipline."

At the Allstate Arena Thursday night, Jackson more than made up for lost time, signifying to fans that she may have been absent from Illinois throughout the last seven years, but never forgot her Midwest work ethic reared just a state away in Gary, Indiana. Across an incredibly generous two and a half hours, the superstar with over 100 million album sales to her credit performed an astounding 37 songs, addressing all her albums and giving fellow divas Madonna, Beyonce and Rihanna a run for their money when it came to production.

Granted, not all of Jackson's songs were performed at full-length with several strung together through medleys, though her sincere desire to reconnect with the all ages audience was apparent every step of the way. The show began as a shout out to old school appreciators with the slick dance floor grooves of "The Pleasure Principle," "Control" and "What Have You Done for Me Lately," before turning futuristic for Janet's recent club domination of "Feedback."

Songs like "Alright" and "Miss You Much" (both from her now classic "Rhythm Nation" period) were examples of ambitious chorography, no doubt influenced by her brothers in The Jackson Five and possibly even Prince. Jackson also displayed a softer side, swaying back and fourth for the new ballad "Never Letchu Go," plus the sensual oldie "Come Back To Me."

Even with these noticeable strides in the right direction, the show wasn't without some problems, with the topic of wardrobe being one of the most glaring missteps. No, we're not talking anything as scandalous as the Super Bowl, but what was Ms. Jackson thinking coming to the stage like she just stepped off a spaceship clad in a tacky gold bodysuit with a cross between a mullet and a Mohawk?

Another issue was the entertainer's vocals, which noticeably wavered as the night progressed, especially during breathy dance routines behind "All For You" and "If." The soulful ballad "That's the Way Love Goes" also fell flat from a weak range that was far less crisp in concert than the slickly produced studio version.

Still, Jackson's footing throughout the tour's namesake "Rock With U" showed she can compete with the current female class, while the retro R&B brilliance of "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" and "When I Think of You" accounted for her longevity, which is more than the many overnight pop sensations of today can claim.

Related articles:

Janet Jackson interview - Sept. 2008
Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - Oct. 2001

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