Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Janet Jackson Makes Triumphant Return to San Francisco with Her “Unbreakable” World Tour By Shelah Moody

It was a world party celebrating all things Janet.  On October 13 and 14, Grammy winning singer/songwriter, actress, author, activist and ultimate pop icon Janet Jackson brought her long awaited “Unbreakable” tour to San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium,  with two sold out shows.  Jackson last performed at the Bill Graham Civic in 2011 on the heels of her “Number Ones” tour, where she performed at smaller venues for a more intimate concert experience.
In the last four years, Jackson took a hiatus from touring, reportedly living part time in Quatar with billionaire husband Wissam Al Mana, converting to Islam and making rare appearances Fashion Week in Paris and amfAR benefits.
In the shadow of City Hall, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was transformed into “JanFrancisco,” on Oct. 14, as a flash mob performed a  “Rhythm Nation” Janet Jackson tribute outside of the venue.  In lieu of an opening act, DJ Aktive played re-mixes of Jackson’s greatest hits, from her very first single “Young Love” (1982) to selections from “Unbreakable” (released Oct. 2), her first studio album in seven years, produced by her longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
At the merchandise booth, which I dubbed the “Jantique,” Unbreakable world tour T-shirts sold for $45, collectible mugs, $30 and programs, $10. With each item purchased, customers received a free copy of the “Unbreakable” CD--a very good deal indeed,
Jackson’s San Francisco show proved that the Unbreakable diva is back—with more passion and energy than ever; exhilarated by the success of “Unbreakable” and its number one status on the music charts.  Ms. Jackson turned it up with a world class production featuring fireworks, slide shows, nine dancers, three background singers, four musicians and more than 30 of her most popular songs.  It was well worth the wait. Janet did not disappoint with her euphoric blend of R&B, electronic dance music, rock, funk and slow jams.

Fans screamed and set their smart phones to record as Jackson’s shapely silhouette became visible behind a screen, and the superstar appeared live, in technicolor, opening with her “Unbreakable” hit “Burn it Up” featuring Missy Elliot via video. She segued into her signature tune, “Nasty,” from her 1986 breakthrough album, “Control,” produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
Nope, Ms. Jackson is apparently not “nasty” anymore. Notably missing from her show were the onstage sexcapades that Jackson became known for in the late nineties and 2000s. For example, during her 2008 “Discipline” tour, she would pick a random fan from the audience, tie him to a mechanical bed and assume the role of a dominatrix. Well, those days seem to be long gone.  Many of the songs on “Unbreakable” are built on themes of spirituality, self-actualization, regeneration, ascension and above all, love.  Unlike previous concerts, there were no wardrobe changes at this show. The recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee performed all night in a black couture ensemble a la Giuseppe Zanotti that covered her from head to toe.
At 49, Jackson moved with fluid, balletic grace, accompanied by her hand selected  group of dancers who call themselves the J-Tribe, performing routines  “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” “Miss U Much” “Pleasure Principle”  and “Rhythm Nation.” A trendsetter in the hair industry, Jackson skillfully manipulated her flowing curly tresses to fall into place with each move. For those who’ve  wondered what it would like to rock with Ms. Jackson in da  club, she showed off some freestyle moves during J. Cole’s pre-recorded rap on “Unbreakable’s” lead single,  “No Sleep,” pointing to the sky when J. Cole referenced her brother Michael’s song “Butterflies.”
Recovering from a vocal ailment that caused her to reschedule to shows in Las Vegas this year, Jackson’s sensual soprano was in fine form. Seated on a gold stool or strolling around the stage, Jackson took on the role of chanteuse on ballads such as “Any Time, Any Place” “Again” and “Unbreakable tracks “After You Fall,” and “Shoulda Known Better. The gracious performer periodically blew kisses to the audience sending one lucky fan home with the towel that she threw into the crowd.
During her closing song, the title track from “Unbreakable,” Jackson raised her hands and formed them into the shape of a heart. “It’s all about love,” she said. After introducing each of her musicians and dancers, Jackson thanked her fans for making “No Sleep” number one for eight weeks in a row and “Unbreakable” number one during the week of her performances. She thanked her audience for their continued love and support, “not just for me, but for my entire family,” she said. “I love you!”
Ah, if only JanTopia could last forever! For more “Unbreakable tour dates, go to www.janetjackson.com. Like her on Facebook,https://www.facebook.com/JanetJackson, follow her on Twitter @Janetjackson. For more coverage of Janet Jackson’s SF show, like Streetwise Radio on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/StreetwiseRadioGilroyCalifornia?fref=ts.

Meet the J-Tribe—Four more than two decades, Jackson’s live shows have featured some of the best dancers from around the world and launched the careers of Tina Landon, Gil Duldulao and others. Jackson’s Unbreakable tour dancers, which she refers to as her kids, include Bianca Brewton, Melanie Mah, Mishay Petronelli, Dominique Battiste (from the San Francisco Bay Area), Alexandra Carson and Allison Buckzkowski. Tween dancers Kyndall Harris and Taylor Hatala, who Jackson calls her “babies,” are the true stars of the show.