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Wed, Feb 09, 2011
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All hail the Janet-bot

By Victoria Barker

WHAT: Janet Jackson Number Ones, Up Close And Personal Tour
VENUE: Singapore Indoor Stadium
ATTENDANCE: More than 6,000
WHEN: Monday night

IF JANET Jackson's fans expected her to say much about her brother, Michael, who died in 2009, they would have been disappointed.

Jackson chose to pay tribute to the King of Pop by closing the show with the upbeat Together Again (from 1996's The Velvet Rope) while pictures of the siblings were flashed on a video screen. But that was it.

Not a peep about the man himself passed through her lips.

In fact, apart from song lyrics and, maybe, heavy breathing as Jackson tore through her numbers in an energetic routine, the 44-year-old hardly said a meaningful word to her audience.

Yes, there was the obligatory "I love you, Singapore" uttered here and there. But otherwise, Jackson, who has said she has self-esteem issues, kept mum. It was all a little mechanical - so much so that one might be tempted to dub the singer as a femme-bot. Because, sure, the moves are all there and she hits the notes, but where's the soul?

But if you're as big a music icon as Janet Jackson - who has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide - you can be forgiven for almost anything.

And forgive, her adoring audience did, over and over.

It was the actress-singer's second Singapore outing - the second stop on a 35-city tour to celebrate her latest compilation album, Number Ones. And though her last gig here was 16 years ago, she chose to keep her audience waiting for an hour before she appeared onstage just after 9pm.

The show - which also attracted celebrity guests Siti Nurhaliza from Malaysia, and American country superstar Taylor Swift, who will play the same venue tonight - was also short, wrapping after barely 90 minutes.

But none of that really mattered.

Indeed, once Jackson - dressed in a skin-tight metallic bodysuit and sporting a sexy crop - and her six back-up dancers tore into a high-octane fivesong medley, starting with The Pleasure Principle (from her 1986 album Control), the fans were charmed.

That riveting routine, hip-thrusting and gyrating included, drew enthusiastic cheers.

Despite her diminutive 1.63m frame, Janet-bot - oops, I mean, Jackson - commanded attention.

Highlights of her acting career - from her debut as a child on 1970s sitcom Good Times to her sexually charged turn in the Tupac Shakur-starring drama Poetic Justice (1993) - appeared on video montages, displaying perfectly her versatility and talent.

As for her voice, Jackson's falsetto shone brightest during her performance of a selection of ballads, in particular, Again (from 1993's janet.)

The goosebump-inducing rendition ached gorgeously with just the right amount of emotion.

And that was the moment that one went, ah, there's Janet Jackson.

What a pity there wasn't more of that going around.


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