On Friday night, legendary pop icon Janet Jackson hit New York's Radio City Music Hall for her Number Ones: Up Close & Personal Tour with the first of three sold-out performances at the venue. This is the diva's first time in the Big Apple since the Rock WitchuTour in 2008.
And for anyone who worried that 44-year-old Jackson would have trouble pulling this off after the cancellations and problems that plagued her last tour, there was no need for concern. Focused less on massive productions and more on intimacy with her fans, the six-time Grammy winner brought the pop and soul to a diverse New York crowd and cemented why she is a legend. She flowed with confidence and commanded the stage with not a step out of place.
In each venue, Janet dedicates select No. 1 hits to that particular city. For New York City, the videos to "Rhythm Nation" and "The Best Things in Life Are Free," her duet Luther Vandross, played before she stepped out on stage. This amped the crowd for her arrival, in a space-age cat suit, the same that wowed audiences on last year's American Idol. Janet opened with a fan favorite "The Pleasure Principle," a 1987 hit that was originally written for Prince.
Her fluidity, focus and precision were evident in every strut, point and vintage dance move. This was a different Janet than the one who toured in 2008, and the best I have seen her since The Velvet Rope Tour, well over a decade ago.
The fans clearly appreciated her ferociousness as she went through more hits like “Control,” “What Have You Done For Me Lately?,” “Feedback,” "You Want This" and "Nasty." After over 30 minutes of aggressive performing, Janet went for a wardrobe change and the audience got a taste of her acting career with a montage of clips from Good Times, Diff'rent Strokes, and Poetic Justice. The hardcore fans dramatically shouted out the lines to her "No, mama, no!" monologue as Penny from Good Times.
Janet returned for a set of ballads, which included "Nothing," "Come Back to Me," "Let's Wait Awhile," and her Oscar-nominated song "Again." In a venue like Radio City Musical Hall, which is known to feature some of the greatest vocalists of all time, Jackson finally had a chance to use her voice in a controlled and powerful way.
Miss Jackson was deeply grateful for the love New York gave her as she rocked other classics like her No. 1 hit "I Get Lonely" (a song that got the most love of the night), "If" and "Scream" (R.I.P. Michael Jackson). She ended with one of the best-selling singles of all time, "Together Again."
At one point, Janet declared, "They can't stop me, New York!" No one ever has. This is a woman who has survived the brutal entertainment industry with class, style, and a humble spirit. Even when she stumbled, Damita Jo has pulled herself up by her garter belts and proudly paved the way for so many artists after her. Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Beyoncé Knowles, Rihanna—you can see Janet Jackson in all of them. This is one tour not to miss, a tour on which you can see a pop icon who has done it all, giving you her all.
The North American leg of Janet Jackson's Number Ones: Up Close and Personal Tour will run until the end of April. Click here for more information.
(Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)