According to Janet Jackson, the Rock Witchu tour — her first in seven years — features a set list that was directly influenced by her fans. (The singer set up a phone line to take song requests in advance.) As a result, last night's Vancouver kick-off covered nearly three decades of music, ranging from tracks recorded in her mid-teens ("Say You Do," "Don't Stand Another Chance") to audience faves ("Escapade," "Rhythm Nation") to her newest singles ("Rock With U," "LUV").
As far as theatrics, Jackson brought her usual bag of tricks: Being overcome by (possibly real) tears during a burst of fan-thusiasm? Check. Picking a guy out of the audience to incorporate into her sadomasochistic number? Double check. She got out a bondage swing and some floggers for her latest disc's title track, "Discipline." (Check out photos from the show here.)
The stage featured layers of interwoven steel with a huge U-shaped extension allowing Janet to strut nearly halfway across the stadium floor. Costume changes brought the glam — ranging from a skin-tight gold lamé bodysuit (during opening track "The Pleasure Principle") to a Hollywood-esque flowing red gown for the slow jams — but it did seem clear that Jackson, along with her nine dancers and minimalist band, put together a show that was less extravagant in terms of outfits and stage props, attempting instead to bring the bang with pyro and mini-explosions.
Three large screens offered close-up shots throughout the two hour and 20 minute set, as well as pre-recorded footage allowing "duets" with Nelly ("Call On Me") and Dave Navarro ("Black Cat"). The show's sole bizarre element was the inclusion of nearly nonsensical video vignettes designed to create a space-age good vs. evil battle: the "evil" Jackson sonically emulating Gollum from Lord of the Rings while the "good" Janet appeared in a white haze, eerily resembling the sunshine from the Teletubbies. While the onscreen Janets were confounding, the real-live Jackson was assured as she powered through the tightly choreographed 37-song set. She may have sang along to backing tracks, but she didn't lip-synch.
"What Have You Done For Me Lately"
"U Want This"
"Miss You Much"
"Never Letchu Go"
"Come Back To Me"
"Let's Wait Awhile"
"So Much Betta"
"Say You Do"
"Don't Stand Another Chance"
"Love Will Never Do"
"When I Think of You"
"All 4 You"
"Don't Know What You Got, Till It;s Gone"
"Call on Me"
"That's The Way Love Goes"
"I Get Lonely"
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