Thursday, February 10, 2011

Janet Jackson LIVE in Jakarta (Concert Review)

Once I touched down from the flight to Jakarta from Bali, I switched on my Blackberry and franticly looked for the text from Michael. There it was and it said “I picked up your ticket.” I thought, “That’s it. It’s on and I’m going” I felt so relieved and overjoyed. This whole thing was a last minute plan and I feared I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. Since this morning I had been on the phone and online trying to get this ticket and among other things that drove me crazy, it surely was not my day but finally…..Whew!  So I immediately hopped on a cab and asked the driver to drive as fast as he could and the destination? “Plenary hall, Jakarta Convention Centre to catch Janet Jackson’s concert”. When I got there at the convention centre, the scene was hectic. Heavy traffic, motorbikes honking and cutting each other, people everywhere, some trying to re-sell the tickets with much higher prices and this long queue that seemed endless for the purpose of security check. (Look at the world we live in right now!) I nevertheless, stood in the line gleefully and patiently waited for what seemed like over an hour (I didn’t mind at all, I knew Janet was in there!!!!) 

Then I got in and saw giant posters of “Janet Jackson: Number Ones (up close and personal)”. I almost peed in my pants and couldn’t stop grinning. I joined my friend, Michael in the silver B section for which we paid 900, 000 rupiah which is over 90USD each. The highest ticket price for the night was 5 million rupiah (500USD), followed by 300USD, 150USD and ours at the bottom. (I believe that’s quite a lot for a concert but believe me the concert was 90% full. There’s so much wealth in Jakarta.) Soon after, the moment we all paid so much for had arrived: Miss Jackson came out in a futuristic metallic outfit (the entrance wasn't as spectacular as I expected) and started singing her medley of hits that included “Pleasure Principal”, “Alright”, “Nasty”, “Control”, “What have you done for me lately” and the recent “Feedback” which brought the audience (55% GLBTQ in my honest humble opinion) to their feet cheering with thunderous applause. Janet looked amazing and she performed tirelessly for this first segment of the show but as it was a medley-type performance, some of the fan favorites were cut very short and she pretty much improvised her moves and only joined the dancers during some of the dance breaks. After that she left us with a huge TV screen displaying her previous TV and film works (“Fame”, “Poetic Justice”, “Nutty Professor II”, “Why did I get married” to name a few) which went on for about 15 minutes.

By the time she came back, she was in a glittery gown exposing her beautiful big bosoms that caused a national hysteria in America during one Super Bowl event not so long ago, sitting pretty and ready to serenade us with some slow jams. She sang her classics such as “Let’s wait a while”, “Come back to me” and all of us fans responded devotedly by singing along but by the time the piano intro to my most favorite Janet song “Again” came on, I went totally nuts. Yes, I completely lost it because it reminded me of those days as a kid with MTV on and that song would play and how I would sing along on top of my lungs without even knowing what it means. And there she was singing the song live right in front of me. That was indeed “THE MOMENT”, a dream come true for me. What a great song! This Oscar-nominated number-one hit is also one of the very few songs that stretches Ms Jackson’s vocals and she did it even better live. The crowd was in tears and so was I. After that, she changed her outfit yet again and returned to what she does best, sing & dance simultaneously. The late great Aaliyah, Ciara and even Beyonce’ can only wish to do what Janet did in her prime and still is doing today to some extent. Her endless flow of energy, at the age of 44, is simply remarkable.  My friend, Michael and I danced and sang along to songs like “Doesn’t really matter”, “Miss you much”, “That’s the way love goes” (the sexiest song ever!!!!) and “All for you”. We screamed Janet and squealed like school girls. It was fun!

Later on the audience was treated to the rock-themed segment of her show in which she sang some of her classics with rock edge like “Black Cat”(my least favorite Janet song and Michael agreed with me too!), “If” (Yes, she did that crazy dance break as precise as she did 15 years ago. Love it!!!) , “Scream” the duet with her brother Michael and the iconic “Rhythm Nation” as a conclusion. Of course, the crowd went wild and asked her to come back on stage for encore.  Yes, she did with her fifth and final outfit of the show, a beautiful white outfit with shoulder pads. After she performed her latest single “Make Me” (which is quite upbeat and slowly growing on me), just as I expected she closed the show with her global number-one hit “Together Again”. The crowd’s response was amazing, the whole stadium jumping with joy and singing along the lyrics, “everywhere I go, every smile I see, I know you are there smiling back at me.”

Janet’s concert, on the whole, was spectacular. We walked out feeling satisfied. We felt that she’s such a phenomenal performer and she gave her all (although I was a bit disappointed that she did not interact with the crowd that much apart from occasional “Jakarta”, “I love you “and “How you doing”). I also did expect the production to be bigger than it was but then again, to quote Janet- I will be as up close and personal as possible. These concerts are not about special effects. This is a love affair between me and those of you who have supported me and my work for all these years. I’ll be singing and dancing from my heart.” There were some parts she lip-synced understandably due to the high demands of dancing and singing all at once but at least not like Britney who lip-syncs in entirety. I personally am glad to have caught her on this tour knowing she doesn’t tour Asia that much and this was indeed a great opportunity for her die-hard Asian fans. We love you, Janet!

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