Jackson is No 1 with Yas crowd
ABU DHABI // Janet Jackson's performance at Yas Island last night was not only a celebration of a 30-year pop career, but a masterclass in how to deliver a pop performance.
The 45-year-old filled a dynamic show with all the chart toppers, reflecting her eclectic muse from R&B, pop to rock and dance.
Her Abu Dhabi stop was in the middle of a 10-month tour which began in the Philippines in February and will conclude in Miami in December.
The show was fast moving and slickly produced with the diva supported by an eight-piece band all clad in white, and six dancers in denim.
The Abu Dhabi crowd reflected the longevity of the singer. It ranged from those just wanting a good night out to the hard core fans.
The Etihad captain Peter Thomas said the event as nice way to unwind after a landing a plane full of passengers from Delhi. After growing up near Glastonbury in England, where the annual festival is known for both the music and the rain, Mr Thomas said to see an outdoor musical performance on a mild evening was nothing short of a miracle.
"This city should be the concert capital of the world," he said. "You have the weather and the people and if you put open air concerts in such a setting, you will get more to people to come ... To be at an open-air concert without a brolly is just fantastic."
For the barman Ron Espenocilla the concert was not only a dream come true, but the reason that very nearly got him fired from a Dubai restaurant.
Leaning on the barrier dividing the general admission ticket holders from the fan pit, Mr Espenocilla gushed that he had just purchased more than Dh330 worth of merchandise including a concert programme, a special concert edition laminated card, a T-shirt and a carry-on bag.
"This is very much a dream come true," he said.
"I missed two of her tours in the Philippines because I was either studying or living here and this time I wasn't going to miss it. I told my job one month before that I have to go to do this and they were not happy but I told myself it was worth leaving it if they said no ... lucky they agreed."
It was a family affair for the Abu Dhabi engineer Allan Patacsil.
He took his wife, three young kids and nanny along for the concert. While admitting he was familiar with her music "but not a big fan", he said the event gave the family something to look forward to.
"It's a chance for us to spend some quality time," he said.
"The opportunity came and we took and we are all having a great time."
Jackson came on stage after 9.30pm but the restless crowd soon forgave the tardiness. Dressed in a white jacket, black T-shirt and jeans and singing through a headset, she began with the energetic Pleasure Principle.
Jackson always paid as much attention to her choreography as her vocal performance, and both blended well throughout the performance.
It is here she showed her experience. While Shakira's Abu Dhabi show this year was criticised for alleged lip synching, Jackson left no doubt to who was delivering the tunes.
In Control, What Have You Done for Me Lately and the thumping Feedback she executed elaborate dance routines without a faltering note.
For the Australian tourist Salim Ftouni, her performance proved the singer has not slowed down over the years. "She was the first concert I ever saw in Melbourne back in 1998," he said. "Like then she was full of energy and she was doing a great job,"
Jackson's concert is the first of the Yas Island Weekend shows. On October 25, the metal titans Metallica will play at the arena before the venue becomes the stage for the Formula One concert series in November.