Skip to main content

JANET JACKSON Velvet Rope Tour Live Review, Melody Maker, 1998

"FONDLE WITH CARE"
JANET JACKSON 
AHOY
ROTTERDAM 
Melody Maker, 25 April 1998


IT'S WHEN THE camera catches the screen and doubles her back to infinity. It's when she's frozen silent by the spotlight, in the teeth of a crowd howl so frenzied and so insatiable the ground gives way.

It's when that mass of noise — perhaps the definitive sound of the 20th century — surges over into delirium and she juts the chin and drops the shoulder and you just know she is only intact now. And stardom is reprieved from Hollywood and given back to pop to play with, and you fall to the floor and gurgle. Gig of the century. Listen.



It's part spectacle, part musical and part plain unearthly. From the black, a giant velvet rope unfurls, a huge screen is opened out, you're hurtled through hyperspace at warp speed, the stage explodes in pyrotechnics and there she is. Janet Jackson. Twenty thousand people yearning with every cell of their being to fuse with her metabolism. 'Velvet Rope', 'If' and 'You' are the greatest ten public minutes of my life so far. She tells us she loves us. We utterly believe her, because she has no reason to lie. She sings 'Wait A While' and 'Again', and we each analyse our own tawdry relationships and lifesize passions and have to conclude they're not true. Then, ohmygod, a Control medley of such spine-cracking brutality, white people pass out, 'Nasty' kicking off a dance-troupe, all-action orgy of Eighties bodyrock. On 'Throb' and 'Ropeburn' (where a wretch is plucked from the audience, tied to a chair and pole-danced until he's a Kangol full of puree), the scorn we adore explodes from her performance, our base bodies struck dumb in wonder at the first human being to evolve to the point where she can actually f*** herself. Completely. Obscenely.


That's what she's doing. Self-possession in excelsis. We're not needed, and yet we're in love. The stage empties, the curtain draws, we scream at it in hesitant agony; suddenly a huge moon, a giant technicolour clock, a slide, — everyone's dressed as flowers, she's wearing a hat bigger than herself and we're not in Kansas any more. Never having seen anything as eye-popping in our lives, we squeal as 'Runaway' and 'Whoops' make us Disney-designed kids drunk on joy; then, in a wink, a Rhythm Nation section of brute futuristic brilliance and a 'Special' so moving we pretend to cry, unembarrassed, fearless. 'That's The Way Love Goes' and 'Got' stem the flood with funk so deep it damn near kills us, before 'Together' sends us coasting into the night drained, devastated, on fire. She blows me a kiss. Me. You wouldn't understand. You aren't really here.

Just try to understand, because our world is different now. Whether you believe in the concept of stardom doesn't matter, because stardom isn't a concept. It's an effect, a transmission, the last state of grace and divinity left on this godless rock, a happening that's irrefutable because there isn't time. And Janet Jackson is the most engulfing and engrossing star I think I'll ever see in my lifetime. We are changed. Go see. And start your life.

© Neil Kulkarni, 1998

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

MANIC STREET PREACHERS, ASTORIA, LONDON, 1994, LIVE REVIEW, MELODY MAKER

(photo by Pat Pope, full text)  MANIC STREET PREACHERS  ASTORIA, LONDON  SORRY, lifelong fan, but I’m a new convert. I got into them a week ago and here I am. (They start with “Faster and, after the dub and horrorcore they’ve played, it jarrs and fits perfectly.) OK, see it ain’t attitude cos anyone can do that, just cock a snook and suck your cheeks. It ain’t glamour. Glamour is boring. Glamour is loud pretty people who hug, hug, hug, giggling at your geek self all night. And it ain’t rock’n’roll; it was your rock’n’roll that made a nigger-hater the King, your teddy boys who Paki-bashed for Mosley, Notting Hill 1958, your rock’#n’roll build on SAMBO DON’T SELL. I ain’t interested and the Manics are way beyond that. (“Yes” is Stjepan Mestrovic’s “Balkanisation Of The West” turned punk anthem, as if it could be any more punk. No higher compliment exists.)    The four founding points of Manics songs – one: modern life is untenable. Two: no one ever gets used to loneliness. Three: if tr…

BRITAIN SEE THYSELF PART II. A POST-REFERENDUM DIARY AND A HISTORY OF BRITISH SELF-PITY

Tuesday June 28th, 2016.

OK, a week since the vote and hey, I know the drill. Similar to those habits you kicked back into after 9-11, after 7-7. Heads down. Don't notice the people crossing the road to avoid you. Don't register any reaction to the shop assistants who drop the change with a panic'd repulsion into your foul brown palm. Keep your eyes down, no eye-contact with anyone. Get through the street to safety because the street is a place where you are a target again now, just as you were as a child. Don't ever ever relax again because that moment where your vigilance slips, when you start doubting your own paranoia, is the moment when the van draws up and three pink faces look your way grinning, when the kids see their chance to have some fun, when the guy on his bike who you hadn't thought of leans into the pavement to spit his venom, when the words will come unbidden and deafening, those words that won't just fuck up your day but will haunt your sleep, …

WHY WE MUST BAN THIS UKULELE FILTH NOW

Top Eight Worse FUCKING Ukelele FUCKING Breathy-Voiced FUCKING Covers For FUCKING Adverts

I can't think of any more because I don't want my head to explode with rage.

1. Dogs Trust - 'I Only Want To Be With You
2. Renault Zoe - That's Entertainment
3. McDonalds - Rhythm Of The Night 
4. T-Mobile - Teenage Kicks
5. Lloyds Bank - Mad World 
6. Kia - Ever Fallen In Love 
7. John Lewis - Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want
8. Chanel No.5 - You're The One That I Want 


My uke-hate I think came to a peak with an ad from last year. I blamed Lily Allen for the mannered vocal unmanneredness, Mumford & Sons for the fucking ukeleles, David Cameron for the ideological basis for it all, but it was AXA Insurance I blamed for that appaling cover of 'Little Things Mean A Lot"  and they will therefore burn for all eternity in the skin-flaying flames of hell, alongside Dave, Lily and The Mumfucks. Artists (esp. Britschool-alumni-style priveliged CatPowerfan-feckers like …