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Janet Jackson Returns to Japan for Triumphant Together Again Tour Chronicling Legendary Career

Janet Jackson Returns to Japan for Triumphant Together Again Tour Chronicling Legendary Career

Janet Jackson returned to Japan for the first time in five years for her 2024 Together Again Tour, making stops in Nagoya, Osaka and Yokohama. At her K Arena Yokohama show on March 20, the icon treated the packed crowd to a nonstop 90-minute spectacle of her career-spanning, hits-filled set.

The concerts also featured TLC as the special guest only in Japan, and tickets were sold out in all three cities.

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K-Arena Yokohama, the venue for the final night of Jackson’s Japan trek, is one of the world’s largest music-specific arenas, which opened on Sept. 29. Since it’s still a brand-new venue, many appeared to be visiting for the first time and people were snapping pictures on their phones while looking around even before the show began. In addition to the state-of-the-art sound system, all seats are positioned like a fan facing the front of the stage to allow fans to fully experience their favorite artist’s performance. The seats are also comfortable, ideal for those who want to relax and enjoy the concert, but when the lights went down for this particular show, the audience shot up from their seats in unison to greet TLC with loud cheers.

As the DJ hyped up the crowd with a “T-L-C!” call and response, T-Boz and Chilli appeared onstage accompanied by four dancers and opened the set with their debut single “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg.” With Chilli’s vocals overlapping with T-Boz’s deep voice during the chorus, the two also performed with the late Left Eye during the rap part, bringing the voice of the third member who died in a tragic accident in 2002 along for the ride. Chilli thanked fans in between songs for celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of the group’s hit album CrazySexyCool, and after a DJ break, the two members returned to perform a few more hits including one of their biggest, “No Scrubs,” to huge cheers from the crowd. Led by a gorgeous horn arrangement, the pair closed their set with “Waterfalls,” as Chili and the dancers danced beautifully to the Left Eye’s rap. The audience cheered loudly, clapping along with the beat, and enthusiastically responded in unison to the “T-L-C!” call and response at the end of the set to express their appreciation.

The venue went dark after a brief set change and the words “50 YEARS OF ME” flashed on the huge screens set up in the center, left, and right sides of the stage. As a montage of flashback photos featuring Janet since childhood flickered by, the central screen rose to reveal the superstar standing immobile on the circular stage wrapped in a purple hooded cloak. Kicking off her set with “Damita Jo,” she stood completely still, then briefly receded to removed the cloak and returned in a sparkly gold bodysuit with a large purple ribbon around her waist. Singing to a simple beat with a heavy bass sound, she performed “Feedback” with her four dancers, the audience gleefully screaming every time they struck a pose. The band consisted of a drummer and bassist on the right side of the stage, keyboardist, guitarist, and DJ on the left. The seamless sound system had no time lag even for fans in the stands, immersing the audience in the concert experience.

The crowd went wild when Janet performed “That’s the Way Love Goes” from her eponymous hit album from 1993. Families with children could be seen here and there in the audience, and it was clear that the concert was a space where the pop icon’s timeless music was being passed down from the generation who lived through the same era as the hitmaker to the next generation of fans.

The concert was divided into four acts, and Janet took the stage in the second decked in a broad-brimmed black hat and long, ruffled black skirt. The second section consisted mostly of songs from her 1986 album Control, including “What Have You Done for Me Lately,” “Nasty,” and “The Pleasure Principle,” and the songstress captivated the audience with vocals and dynamic choreography set to the big beat and scratches by the DJ. She removed her hat and skirt and performed the majority of this act in wide pants along with four dancers dressed in white.

“Now I’m going to take you back,” she said with a grin. “Way back. Bass!” With her cue, the familiar, catchy bass line of “When I Think of You,” began, and she continued, “Back to 1986. This was my first No. 1 song. I was just a baby. But I still look good!” Towards the end of the act, she slowed things down to perform some of her most famous ballads seated on the stage, including “Come Back to Me,” “Let’s Wait Awhile,” and “Again.” Janet encouraged the Yokohama audience to sing along with her on “Again” with her mic raised towards the crowd, and seemed genuinely moved by the rousing sing-along by her fans in Japan.

Returning in a bright orange outfit, the Grammy winner began her third act with “All for You.” She went on to perform tracks including “Girlfriend/Boyfriend,” her collab with Blackstreet, and “Do It 2 Me,” singing and dancing aggressively with her dancers almost non-stop. By this point, it’s been about an hour into the show, and her performance has been phenomenal.

The fourth and final act featured songs from Rhythm Nation 1814, with Janet performing tracks such as “Miss You Much,” “Love Will Never Do (Without You),” and “Alright” rocking a casual T-shirt and jeans get-up as if she were out on the street. The hits from 1989 blending delicate melodies with edgy sounds have stood the test of time, dynamically shaking the hearts and bodies of those witnessing them live.

Then suddenly, the venue went dark and white noise filled the screens. Cued by an all-too-familiar scream, the band began rocking out as the late Michael Jackson’s voice and image appeared majestically on the screens for the brother-sister duet “Scream.” Deafening shouts erupt from the audience as Michael continues to sing his part in the Sci-Fi-inspired, black-and-white music video, later joined by his sister’s live vocals onstage. Janet faced the guitarist towards the end of the song in what looked like a tribute to her late older brother. The voltage in K Arena peaked as the band segued into “Rhythm Nation” and Janet performed the iconic choreography with her dancers surrounded by intensely flashing lighting and beats, ending the main set with an impressive shout.

The icon promptly answered the call for an encore and sang “Together Again,” the title of her tour, as the final song of the concert. Singing along with the audience while casually moving from one end of the stage to the other, she jumped up and down and encouraged everyone to do the same, bringing the audience together as one for a joyful ending to the show. “Yokohama! This is the very last show of this leg of our tour. I hope you enjoyed it,” Janet addressed her fans. “May God bless each and every one of you on your journey through the world. I love you so much, please be safe! Good night! I love you!” A breathtaking 90 minutes of almost non-stop dancing and singing, the concert left one with a sense of awe and respect for the undiminished passion for live performance by an artist who has created some of the leading music of our time.

This article by Takayuki Okamoto first appeared on Billboard Japan

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