Janet Jackson Reliant Stadium March 4, 2011
More pics of Ms. Jackson can be found in our slideshow.
Keep your shirt on. Janet did.
Clad in a sleek silver catsuit so tight it was a miracle she could even breathe, let alone walk, let alone shimmy, let alone writhe on the stage during "Feedback," let alone pull of the kung-fu dance moves of "If" and "Rhythm Nation," Janet Jackson kicked whatever bad mojo lingered from her Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction straight out of the Reliant Stadium rodeo chute. Girl was smokin'.
And she did shove a backup dancer's face into her crotch during "If," so that was something.
Opening with a 25-minute barrage of robo-synth-funk - "Pleasure Principle," "Control," "What Have You Done For Me Lately," "Feedback," "You Want This," "Nasty Boys," Jackson proved two things Friday night.
One, that Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis sound has held up like a bulwark in the 25 years since her debut Control was released. Also, a sound based in keyboard, bass and drums is much better suited to the Cavern on Kirby than one based in trebly guitars, though "Nasty Boys" did have a wicked rock-guitar edge.
Damn. And we thought Diana Ross was setting 'em up and knockin' 'em down earlier this week. Also, the Rodeo has got to get Prince in there next year.
Jackson couldn't help but downshift, and she did, into a suite of acoustic ballads highlighted by "Let's Wait a While" and "Again." Earlier it was a little hard to tell how much of the vocals were live and how much were canned, but she was definitely singing these, and singing them well.
She may not have the raw vocal power of Mary J. Blige, but she made this section as intimate as Ms. Mary did last year. Plus, they're such pretty songs. (Yes, we went to school for this.)
The other thing is how much her singing voice sounds like her late brother Michael. Close your eyes and Aftermath defies you to tell a difference. Then Michael actually showed up (sort of), in "Scream," to a huge cheer from the audience.
After some more strutting in "Rhythm Nation," that was it. Bang. Over. Done. Aftermath has said it once before this week, but we have no choice but to say it again.
Wham, bam, thank you Janet. We have a feeling Ms. Jackson is welcome back in Reliant Stadium any time now - as nasty as she wants to be.
Personal Bias: My first thought upon seeing Janet in that silver catsuit was very simple: Mama. She looks good in short hair too.
The Crowd: Black Heritage Day, so... But the Rhythm Nation is a rainbow coalition.
Overheard In the Crowd: "I'm waiting to see what pops out" - the cop standing next to me on the media platform.
Random Notebook Dump: We missed the mutton bustin', which used to be right before the concert but the rodeo must have moved up in the program of events. It's probably for the best - those 5 and 6-year-old kids would have had some mighty interesting questions for their parents if they got a load of Janet.
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