Friday, October 17, 2008

I Found Janet (in Jersey) ~ Originally posted October 17, 2008

As I mentioned I went to the Mariah Carey concert tonight and got reminded about my Janet Jackson blogs, so I'm putting them on this platform...  Sports tie-in?!?!  Maybe not so much, but she's dancing this time :-P

The folowing intro was written by my friend the Insideplaya:

While in her never ending pursuit of the hotness, The Wirk caught her second Janet Jackson gig in three nights. Please find below her impressions of Miss Jackson’s performance.


And now my blog begins...

I was once told by a very good friend of mine, “Who else besides you and Craig Sager went to 3 NBA playoff games in 3 nights?”. This was after I spent Friday taking my work conference calls in Atlanta so I could watch the Hawks beat the Celtics later that night – and then flew back to DC on Saturday to watch the Cavs beat the Wiz – only to return to Atlanta on Sunday to watch the Celtics lose again… Sports and music (and handbags – but nobody wants to hear about that) are my “things”…

Not too many people would hustle (read: DRIVE) to New Jersey to see Janet Jackson two days after seeing the concert (more or less in her backyard) in DC. We’re talking a solid 8.5 hours driving for about a 2 hour performance… But when I pull the trigger and decide – I commit – and I decided months ago, I was gonna check this show out.

I drive to the arena and begin to think about what I had seen on Wednesday and mentally prepare myself for the worst. I stop at a visitor center on the drive up to grab a burger and some pie and a blueberry muffin in cellophane. I buy the muffin. I chuckle to myself that if Janet tries to eat someone in the crowd – I can hurl the muffin at her to calm her down… Yeah, I’m mean some times – when I’m pissed – and after Wednesday, I was pissed about what I saw and didn’t see.

I talk my cousin’s daughter into going with me to the show and tell her to bring 2 friends. I think to myself this will definitely be an interesting night, since I haven’t seen my cousin’s daughter since she was a baby in the Philippines about 23 years ago… If it weren’t for myspace and facebook I doubt I’d even recognize my own blood. I feel guilty using the possibility of an LL Cool J appearance as bait to entice her to go, but she’s young enough to handle disappointment and get over it, so I don’t actually feel bad when LL is a no-show AGAIN.

On the way to the show, I learn that I may have a ticket upgrade coming my way… I may be able to gain access to some house seats and move closer to the stage, due to friends calling in a few favors since “THE WIRK matters”… I’m flattered. A few minutes later, with the beauty of 3-way calling – even better news comes through that comped tickets are a possibility. Comps are extremely meaningful to THE WIRK since she’s got Vegas in her blood and is an absolute ticket shark….

I get to the Izod Center… Izod… Really?!? Izod… Whatever. That bldg will always be the Continental Airlines Arena… And that point was DRILLED home when I saw former, NJ Net, Cliff Robinson a few rows BEHIND me…

Janet on the walkway and Cliff Robinson behind me...

My blood and I are catching up in our seats – center floor section, 5 rows from the stage… While she and I are talking, she mentions she read my blog about Janet’s show on Wed. I asked if she ever saw Janet in concert before, and she says “No”. I reply that she should be fine bc my blog lowered her expectations and since she has nothing to compare this concert to… In her eyes, Janet’s more or less been offered a clean slate.

I look around the arena before the show starts…

It's a bit blurry but you can see that there are plenty of open seats...

For those that don’t know how the bldg is set up – you should know that in addition to the floor seats, there is only a 1ower bowl and an upper bowl. Some arenas have more seating – this one doesn’t. Anyway, the upperbowl is only about ½ full and the lower bowl is close to being full. I’d say this crowd in Jersey is about 75% the size of the DC crowd – but even though this audience was smaller, I’d say Jersey got the better show. Incidentally, DC had better concession stand choices… Jersey only had hotdogs, cracker jack, pretzels, and cookies, etc. for food… Sad choices for a sad bldg.

She looks slimmer this concert

Finally, the real Janet Jackson stood up… Janet tonight was noticeably more into the show. She seemed more comfortable. She was more sincere in her “acknowledgment” of people in the audience and with her dancers. She smiled more and “looked” happy. She danced harder – I can’t accuse her of half-stepping this show. She even looked like she slimmed down some (but seriously, how can you not).

I’m not sure what happened in the day and a half after Wednesday’s show – but the show was better. My only issue with that is that I think the tour is coming to an end shortly. I was checking out the back of one of the concert t-shirts and I think I counted about 4 more stops (but I have no idea how they’re handling the other cancelled shows).

Similarly to an athlete who’s been injured, maybe Janet just wasn’t in condition to perform on Wednesday – but athletes do gain their conditioning and get their wind back eventually. I’m not about to hit another Janet Jackson concert this tour. I’ve seen and heard enough. I’ve figured out which tracks she’s singing on and which ones she’s not.

For the most part she doesn’t sing during the tracks that begin with the graffiti video – but how would you really make the over-produced, yet hypnotically catchy “So Much Betta” sound good if you really sang it live?!? Also, that whole part of the set focuses on her and her background dancers’ dance numbers so just focus on the visuals.

Janet danced harder this show and in general the crowd loved her. I can’t figure out if people watched the concert more through the viewer of their cameras or with their real eyes. What did people do without digital cameras?!?! HAHA. I’m guilty of this and often take more pictures than necessary, because I want “perfect” pics to share with everyone that capture the magic of being there “live”… Even Cliff had his iphone out trying to get some shots…

It was challenging for me to focus on her singing, since I couldn’t shut myself up and the old lady behind me kept singing – but I wouldn’t really want it any other way. It’s a concert – not a recital – and if I wanted to really just hear the music and the singing – I’d stay home and just play the cd.

I did notice her mic wasn’t working when she was yapping into it and no sound came out. Plus when “Love Will Never Do Without You” came on, she started to mouth the words before the track kicked in.

Whatever. Everyone knows the 1st verse of that song is also over-produced and can’t be done live.

Oh – I need to mention that I hate the song “Black Cat”. Now that I got that off my chest, I feel better. I don’t need Janet doing rock. ‘Nuff said.

My stint following Janet is over at least for this tour… I’m not to the point of apathy, like I feel for Madonna, but I don’t think I’m getting what I want out of either of them anymore. As a result – I’m just gonna go back to focusing my time and energy on Tina Turner and see how many other dates and venues I can hit before she hangs it all up AGAIN… But I may just have converted my blood into a Janet fan for life… Soooo – at the end of the day, the way I see it – Janet still owes me…


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Finger-Lickin’ Good (This Is Not Janet) ~ Orginally posted October 16, 2008

I went and saw Mariah Carey tonight and was reminded of my Janet Jackson blogs...  Plus, I'm trying to move my older blogs onto a single platform...  Bear with me.  Where's the sports tie - in?!?!  Um, I don't know...  There are eating, dance, and singing contests...    :-P
My good friend, the Insideplaya wrote the following forward to my piece, since I had originally submitted this to his blog-site back in October 16, 2008...

SAP software consultant, veteran concert goer, pop culture enthusiast and keeper of the heat, The Wirk has been extra with the bizzyness lately. In additon to checking in from time to time, she’s been catching the live concerts of both Tina Turner and Janet Jackson.

Per The Wirk, as has been detailed previously on this space, Tina can do no wrong. On the other hand, Janet may need to throw an extra salad or two in the game.

Please find below, the hillarious review of Ms. Jackson’s DC performance from last night. Enjoy!

And now my blog begins...

So anyone who knows me knows I’ve been a Janet Jackson fan for years… It started with Control – and I wore that tape out… My first fiancĂ© remarked that he’d never seen me dance so hard at a concert – like I did for Janet Jackson… Perhaps I only remember this bc he also told me I called him a pu**y for crying when his parents flew home… Yes, sometimes I can be insensitive.  Whatever. I didn’t want to be late for the show.

It was the All for You tour I think, and it was 2002. I saw that show twice – once in DC and once in Cleveland. Yeah, if the show is good – I’ll hit the road or grab a flight and do it again… I’m obsessive and compulsive about my passions and music and sports are my passions… That tour was awesome – from the start to the end – Janet gave you her all… I mean, damn – the tour was called “All For You” and she delivered it all for ME as far as I was concerned… Non-stop dancing except for her signature ballads and a flashback movie clip to Tupac in Poetic Justice… Janet had abs and looked happy. Show was tight. That was a Janet Jackson concert… That was how it’s SUPPOSED to be done…

Fastforward to 2008… Word was that Janet wasn’t selling and was performing to “half-full” concert arenas… I’ve seen over 120 Cleveland Cavaliers games before Lebron got on the scene… I know what “half-full” looks like and it’s a sad bldg when no one shows up… I don’t blame Janet for cancelling tour dates bc she got sick.. But as far as I can tell, from her Rubenesque physique, the only ailment she could’ve been suffering from is “slowticketitis”. But now I’m getting ahead of myself.

So the concert was Wednesday night in DC. I’d already gotten my seats for the show in Jersey (that’s tomorrow) months ago… I usually travel to a client site Mon-Thurs so I can’t plan during the week what city I’m in so since the date in Jersey was a Fri I chose that show.

The day the Jersey dates went on sale, my brother and I were both online jamming up the site to buy the seats. Section 4A on the floor… Should be good, right?!? Wrong. I checked the seat map and the Izod Center is probably the only venue that has the higher number sections closer to the stage… WTF.

Anyway – I’m gonna try to deal those seats, when I get to Jerz tomorrow, and move closer to the stage to see the show again and see if I feel the same way about the scene I witnessed last night…

OK – so I’m laying around yesterday and notice that Janet is in town tonight in DC. I talk my girl into going with me to the show and to be honest, I think the fact that LL Cool J was supposed to open up was the point that sold her… “I do not want to hear Janet sing about her coochie all night long,” is what my friend kept saying on the phone. Fine – I get it. But last I checked, I’m not responsible for Janet’s set list… My girl and I agree on a price of $100 for a ticket. If we can’t get in (translate: get a damn good seat) for a $100 we agree to bolt and head to the movie theater.

I get downtown first and outside the bldg I see my scalper friends and ask what they have in the way of inventory. They show me 2 floor seats, section 6… I tell them I know nothing about engineering and don’t want to work the soundbooth. They tell me the tickets are $150/each and who knows – instinctively ,I may have wanted to backhand the fool – bc the guy was gone almost immediately…

Another guy comes over and shows me two 400 level seats and tells me he wants $80/ticket. I told him he owes me $80 for looking at those sad tickets! Are these people crazy?!!

This is Janet – and she’s not selling… I’m off to the box office to see what I can score bc I know that those scalpers will be working those tickets on the street for a while…

At the window I ask for the best 2 available. Row F, Section 1 is what she says. I check the map and the ticket lady has a deal. I’m gonna buy them at the box office for $129.75/ticket. I pay. I text my friend and tell her what I scored.

My girl complains I’m not good with a budget and I explain she can go hit the street if she likes and that I’m not the one who priced the tickets in the first place. We laugh.

First problem – no LL Cool J. My guess is that he told Janet to F’ck off because he’s trying to move his cd and doesn’t appreciate his concert dates getting cancelled. I make a mental note to check all the House of Blues and Hard Rock dates when I get home and find LL myself.

Since there’s no LL we get a DJ… I think it’s DJ Quicksilver and he did alright. AND YES, he played Cassanova and it was hot (but that’s not a representative population sample). There was a flashy guy getting down to MIA’s track, and he was putting on quite a show in the section to my left, until the bigger guy behind him made him sit down… Asshole.

It’s not the dancing queen’s fault that it’s 8:20 and Janet still hasn’t taken the stage… I looked for a youtube video today of the kid in the crowd doing his routine – it’s not posted yet. Around 8:40 Janet takes the stage. This is the Janet that I’m supposed to believe, has been suffering from illness… Aren’t sick people supposed to be skinny?!?!

Sick people and crackheads are supposed to be skinny – that’s what I was taught in Ohio and as far as I can tell the only exceptions to this rule are Janet Jackson and Shawn Kemp. I love ‘em both – but damn…. How many IV’s did Janet get and what were the full of ? Janet doesn’t look weak… She looks strong like a “bull”…

So Janet comes out and my friend and I look at each other and we both can see it in each others’ eyes – WTF?!?! How many servings of mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese has she been having?!?!? Janet is thick… If I didn’t know better – this is her mom Katherine… This is not Janet Jackson….

So she’s on stage and singing… I mean her face looks like Janet… Now she’s started dancing… Hmmmm… Early on she’s doing alright but after a while, you can see she’s sweating buckets (buckets of sweat and grease from whatever she’s been eating are flying into the air). She’s sweating like Patrick Ewing! I have no idea what’s going on but I swear she’s half-stepping… Half-stepping – not all out dancing?!?!

Noooooooo, this is not Janet Jackson… This half-stepping reminded me of the trainwreck Britney had for the stupid song Give Me More – which incidentally is probably what Janet was yelling backstage in her dressing room when the food trays emptied… This is not good.

I grabbed a water bottle before the show bc I knew I’d be singing all night. I have a water bottle in my hand, and I catch Janet looking at me too hard… Crap. I think she wants my water bottle or she just may jump down off the stage and try to eat me… There’s a huge empty area in front of me. Technically my friend and I are in the 3rd row of our section and the 1st row was inhabited by 2 wheelchairs and their guests.

Notice the wheelchair accessibility in front of me...

There was a bit of a scene before the show started when the couple in the 2 seats in the row ahead of me, were arguing about whether or not they could stay in their wheelchair assisted seats since the “wheelchair” didn’t show up. Evidently, the policy is the wheelchair must show up – so that couple was moved to the side… They were pissed – but serves them right, for trying to pull a scam.

Janet does her thing on stage – and if you’ve seen her concerts before it’s the same formula. A medley of fast songs, a few slow songs, she brings the dude on stage, and then some more fast songs. The recipe hasn’t changed, but her look sure has…

Whoever Janet has as her stylist should be beat down… The hair needs to be changed or only stay for a song or two… Whoever said the banana clip Mohawk was “hot” needs to get punched in the mouth… This is awful…

I realize there’s a lot of dancing involved, but if Tina can wear heels – so can Janet. I don’t need to see her in what looked like hightops, regardless if they’re gold or not. That’s BS– and I don’t care if it’s bc she opened up with Pleasure Principle and she’s taken it “back”…

Regardless, the outfits are a bit strange… Think Tina meets Aretha meets the Klumps… I just don’t know. I do know that if I was gonna perform in front of 20K people I’d wear something that fit or was a lil more forgiving. Why do Janet’s stylists hate her? It’s reminiscent of the “emperor’s new clothes”… Terrible. And the red dress for the one ballad was so Britney meets Celine Dion that if I thought I could make it back and forth to get some food for me or the beast, I would’ve hit the concourse…

I wonder if Janet could see the confusion in my eyes, when she’d stand in front of our section and I’d look at her like I was trying to console her. It’s gonna be alright, Janet. Isn’t she the one supposed to be in “Control”?!? This is not the Janet I expected.

I don’t know if the problem is Jermaine Dupri’s influence or that she just doesn’t give a sh*t anymore, but all I could think of is even Whitney is trying to get back on track and Tina tore it up in Chicago two weeks ago… This is not Janet….

Janet needs to respect herself and the audience and go all out when she’s on that stage. I don’t want to hear that she’s 40 something…. Tina is 60 something and left no question in my mind that she can still get it done. I remember Janet saying she was talking to her brothers about them going on tour with her – presumably, before LL signed on… I can only imagine her brothers looking at her across a table (I’m assuming dinner table as opposed to boardroom) and thinking “Nah, I’m good.” They probably thought the tour would be sponsored by Popeye’s or KFC… WTF… This is not Janet…

The whole show, I wonder if my mouth was open in shock. I have no idea. I do know that I believe in second chances and I’ll be in Jersey tomorrow to see the show at the old Continental Airlines Arena. If the show is whack, I’ll check out the concessions… God knows, Janet will have done so before me…