I missed the first concert Miss Jackson had in Manila back in 1995 (it was just a week or two after the Pearl Jam concert). We were definitely not missing this one. It was a sold out PICCthat night. It was already past nine when the lights were finally dimmed. The concert started with a video of Janet Jackson explaining the concept of this concert. The audience was screaming so much, I could not understand a lot of what she said. The next clip featured the video for the minor 90s hit "Go Deep", which Janet has dedicated to Manila (strange choice if you ask me). She has chosen a song for every city she is going to visit on this tour. And aren't we lucky that Manila is the FIRST stop of her current tour?
The diva's grand entrance was from the back, from the right audience entrance. She was wearing a black skin-tight leather catsuit. She was looking very fine and sexy. It is as if none of those nightmarish photos of her being overweight ever existed. She sang "The Pleasure Principle" as she made her way through the lucky premium ticket holders in the orchestra section, as they caught a very close up view of her indeed.
When she reached the stage, she quickly went through a series of her dance hits: "Control," "What Have You Done for Me Lately," to her recent hit "Feedback" (VIDEO), then backed a little to "You Want This," and further back again with "Alright". The whole frenzied crowd was already up on their feet when she launched into "Miss You Much" and finally,"Nasty" (VIDEO). It was awesome to see all those signature dance moves we only saw on MTV back in the day come to life. Ms. Jackson can definitely still dance!
For the first costume break, the screen showed clips from various TV and movie appearances by Janet. I think that was "Good Times" for the first clip with Jimmie Walker. Then there was"Different Strokes" where she was the girlfriend of Todd Bridges. People recognized and applauded the video from "Poetic Justice" with Tupac Shakur. The next clip was from "The Nutty Professor: The Klumps" with multiple Eddie Murphys. The last was a soap opera-ish scene from "Why Did I Get Married Too?" (with Tyler Perry) where Janet breaks her glass furniture with a golf club. Janet's face did not look good in that scene.
Janet came out wearing a purple ruffled long gown and simply sat on a chair on center stage. We know this was the ballad set of the concert, and when the first strains of music started, we were right. She started with an unfamiliar song, which turned out to be "Nothing" from the "Why Did I Get Married Too" soundtrack, released just last year. The next song was "Come Back to Me" which livened up the audience. Next up was "Let's Wait Awhile" (VIDEO). People were screaming at the intro notes. Janet let the audience sing the first verse, which of course the Filipino audience knew word for word. She ended the set with another crowd favorite "Again," from the "Poetic Justice" soundtrack.
The 2nd costume break: Montage of Janet pictures, with several iconic photographs.
Janet came out in a shiny sleeveless black vest. She started the set with "Nothing Really Matters". Then came a series of crowd favorites: "Escapade" (VIDEO), "Love Would Never Do (Without You)" (VIDEO), "When I Think of You" (her first Number One Billboard Hot 100 hit), then "All for You." There was a slight pause, then she sang "That's the Way Love Goes" (VIDEO) whose slinky groove is really classic.
3rd costume break: an extended rock instrumental from the band
Janet came out wearing a shiny black rockers jacket. We simply knew the next number would be "Black Cat." She then segued into "If" (VIDEO) complete with all the risque dance moves we remember from the video. The next song in this Rock set was "Scream" which was Janet's duet with her brother Michael. The last song in this set was the anthemic "Rhythm Nation" (VIDEO) which set the crowd wild!
There was a very long break when the stage was in darkness. People of course were clamoring for more. Finally after an interminable wait, Janet and company again burst out on stage, all in white outfits. The first song she sang in this encore set is her latest Number One Dance hit"Make Me". Her final song was the upbeat "Together Again." Everybody was on their feet and dancing. All the jumping up and down was making the balcony floor jump. I must admit we got scared a bit with this, haha! The video screen was showing clips of Janet with her recently departed brother Michael. What a very meaningful envisioning of this song. Then they finally bid the audience goodbye. Janet left the stage with a big smile and a friendly wave.
This was a great concert. It certainly exceeded my expectations, both for the concert itself and for Janet as a performer. I wish I had been willing to shell out more to get better seats. This concert was certainly worth its admission price. I have gained renewed respect for Ms. Jackson as an entertainer. She may not have the perfect strong voice, but her showmanship, dance prowess and charisma make her the total performer.