Janet Jackson: Metamorphosis
At a Glance
What is it?
A headlining show from pop icon Janet Jackson.
Where is it?
In the Park MGM Theater at the Park MGM on the South Strip.
Is it worth the cost?
Janet has always known how to put on a good show, and this is no exception, so absolutely worth it.
Why should I see this show?
Because it’s Janet, duh.
What else do I need to know?
The residency is currently only scheduled for a few dates in 2019 but may get extended.
What’s the bottom line?
After all these years she’s still in control.
In many ways, Janet Jackson has provided the soundtrack of my life. Her breakout album Control burst onto the scene when I was 19 years old, shortly after I had moved to California to assert control over my own life. We’ll set aside the fact that I was 19, stupid, and in control of absolutely nothing. The starkly political (and yet still highly danceable) Rhythm Nation came out in 1989, not long after I had graduated college and was becoming “woke” to the world around me. janet in 1993, The Velvet Rope in 1997, All For You in 2001, and the rest of her discography all seemed to land at pivotal moments for me, with songs that moved me in some way, even if it was just to the dance floor at the party she always seemed to be throwing.
I was a bit nervous about her residency show at the Park Theater in Las Vegas. After all, Janet and I are roughly the same age and she is known for elaborate production and high-energy choreography, so could she still keep up? And even though she has continued to release music, she hasn’t had a Top 10 hit in almost 20 years so would this show focus on newer, lesser known material or stick to the classics?
There was no need to worry about any of that. Pretty much every Janet Jackson song you enjoyed in the past is included somehow, and at 53 she still puts on a hell of a show, singing, dancing, and pumping up the crowd in ways that would exhaust a 25-year-old.
When I say all the songs you care about are included, I’m really not kidding. She crams more than three dozen songs into under two hours with #1 singles like When I Think of You, Miss You Much, Escapade, and All For You; Top 40 hits like What Have You Done For Me Lately, The Pleasure Principle, You Want This, and Son of a Gun; and lesser known fan favorites like Throb, R&B Junkie, and Feedback. Granted, many of them are truncated versions put into medleys, but the non-stop parade of great music barely gives you a chance to catch your breath. As one of my favorites, Come on Get Up, came on, I learned that there is no good time to go to the bathroom. Luckily there are speakers in there.
Through it all, Janet sings and dances in ways that prove she still has what it takes to put on a good show. While it’s certain that she was lip syncing in some places, as most singers who dance while performing do, the mix with her live vocal was seamless and it was impossible to tell the difference. And she may not be doing every step of the classic, hard-hitting choreography that she used to do but she does most of it and looks fantastic doing it. As mentioned, we’re the same age and at 53 I can’t get up out of a chair without making noise, but perhaps that’s a discussion for another time.
The production is much more stripped down than most of her previous shows. A lot of it is just her and her dancers on a mostly bare stage with lights and background visuals. As the show progresses there are a few more set pieces added, but they are minimalist things like a catwalk or a platform. It’s a pretty bold move that doesn’t try to distract the audience with a lot of flash, allowing them to focus on what is important: Janet.
If I was putting together the set list, I probably wouldn’t have opened with deep cuts and lesser known tracks like Empty and Trust a Try and probably wouldn’t have made her most recent single Made For Now, the show-closing encore. Those are good songs that probably deserve to be included, but maybe not in those important places. And of course, I might have swapped out a couple of her slow jams for dance floor faves Because of Love or What’ll I Do, but that’s just me being picky.
Whether you’re a super fan, a casual fan, or just someone who enjoys veteran entertainers who put on fun shows, Janet Jackson is still throwing a party and you’d be wise not turn down the invitation.