Words & Images by: L. Paul Mann
Janet Jackson :: 04.09.11 :: Santa Barbara Bowl :: Santa Barbara, CA
Read the interview with Janet here!
Check out photos from this concert here
Fans arrived early last Saturday night for the opening show of the 75th season at the Santa Barbara Bowl. A diverse crowd of hardcore Janet Jackson fans, mixed with a curious group of concert aficionados, filled the amphitheater in anticipation of one of the biggest shows in the venue’s history. Most patrons had found their seats by the 7 pm official start time, but ended up waiting politely and patiently for another hour as the unnamed opening act had canceled at the last minute. By the time the pop diva appeared onstage just after 8 pm, anticipation gave way to euphoria for many in the crowd, who exploded in adulation.
|Janet Jackson by L. Paul Mann|
Miss Jackson, appearing larger than life, immediately launched into her promised set of nothing but Number One hit songs and had the crowd singing, dancing and swaying from the first moment. The show, billed as “Janet Jackson Number Ones, Up Close and Personal Tour,” was the brainchild of Miss Jackson as sort of a gift to her fanatic fans. The venues on this new world tour are much more intimate than Jackson is normally accustomed to playing, but the show presented at the Bowl on Saturday night seemed scaled more towards an arena event with all the bells and whistles intact. A giant led media screen and two video projectors provided an onslaught of images. A massive multi-level stage, dramatically lit with the latest array of LED technology, provided a huge playground for the energetic singer to flaunt her impressive singing and dancing talents. Surrounded by an army of accomplished musicians and dancers, the live music spectacle was about as big as it gets in the pop world.
Midway through the show the band was allowed to showcase their talents in an extended rock jam. Then, Jackson returned for a few intimate songs sitting on the edge of the stage. Among Jackson's Number One hit picks for the night, she played a special song just for her Santa Barbara audience, “Doesn't Really Matter.” Another emotional moment came when she did a duet via video with the King of Pop Himself, Michael.
Unlike a mime performance by a pop star like Britney Spears, Jackson proved to be a consummate performer. Her strong distinctive voice, sophisticated dance routines and constant, impish banter with the audience and the performers onstage with her highlighted her mercurial abilities as an entertainer. However, the 80-minute set was far too short for fans and skeptics alike. The short set was made even more frustrating by several pauses for multimedia presentations eating up precious time with the pop diva. The end came surprisingly early with a full twenty minutes left before the infamous Santa Barbara Bowl curfew arrived. The plunging temperatures in the outdoor amphitheater on an unseasonably cold night might have kept frenzied fans from screaming for another encore, and as short as the show was, the faithful were thankful for the time they got to share with their musical idol. The singer could have sung all 35 of her songs from her Number Ones album and the hardcore fans would still have being salivating for more.
Continue reading for an interview with Janet Jackson...