“You want this?” Janet Jackson asked nearly 20,000 screaming fans at her Rock Witchu Tour at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. The answer was a resounding yes as Janet tore through the third stop on her first tour in seven years. The pop star was in top shape as she ran through several outfit changes as well as her expansive catalog of hits, digging as far back as 1982’s “Say You Do” and as recent as 2008’s “Feedback,” off her latest album Discipline.
One of the more intimate moments of the evening came when Janet performed “Again,” rocking a faux-hawk and a shimmering red gown. Almost on the verge of tears, she thanked the audience for their support. The crowd went wild when she busted out “Together Again” off 1997’s The Velvet Rope. Janet showed that she is not only a pop star, but a rock star too with “Black Cat,” accompanied by guitarist Dave Navarro on the screen behind her. Nelly and Jermaine Dupri also appeared via a pre-taped video for “Call On Me.”
Ms. Jackson displayed her notorious freaky side when she pulled a male fan onstage and performed an S&M act that would make most guys jealous of boyfriend J.D. While singing “Discipline,” the “Nasty” one kissed and caressed the fan in private places, making his ultimate fantasy come true. “I love you, Janet,” he mouthed as he was lowered beneath the stage.
Opener and legend in his own right, LL Cool J, had the ladies in the audience screaming for his signature lip-licking and shirtless act. Although LL didn’t take off his shirt (he came close), he did give old school and new school hip-hop fans a new appreciation for his long career, spanning from 1990’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” to 2008’s “Baby.” The set wasn’t complete without him eating strawberries and handing out roses to adoring female fans.
The house was jam-packed with celebrities including Chris Tucker, Bow Wow, Destiny’s Child’s Michelle Williams, MC Lyte, Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, Jermaine Dupri, Queen Latifah, Travis Barker, and brother Jermaine Jackson.
There are few artists in 2008 who can pack arenas and put on a spectacle the way Janet Jackson can, and last night was proof that Janet’s fans still remain loyal to the icon. The explosive concert, complete with pyro and flames, ended with Janet performing in all white to “Runaway.”
It may be 26 years since her debut, but Ms. Jackson remains timeless.