Janet Jackson’s State of the World Tour is a snapshot of an iconic career, with a newfound excitement. Close to two years after Jackson postponed her Unbreakable Tour and announced that she was planning for a family, the renamed tour feels like the perfect way to return, and when the 51-year-old icon brought the jaunt to the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles Sunday (Oct. 8), she earned a roaring reception from the sold out crowd.
In a week that had already welcomed Nas and Lauryn Hill’s PowerNomics tour, Chance the Rapper’s hurricane relief benefit, and back-to-back nights of Raphael Saadiq, Maxwell, and Jasmine Sullivan, Jackson closed out one of the Hollywood Bowl’s “blackest week ever” on a high note.
Keeping within the tour’s politically themed title, Jackson started off with “The Knowledge,” from her Rhythm Nation 1981 LP, before cascading into her biggest hits.
And she got to the classics early with “Control,” “Pleasure Principle,” “Alright,” “You Want This,” “Nasty ” “Miss You Much,” “Escapade” “and more leading the way. By the second leg of her setlist of more than two dozen songs, Jackson infused ballads and with moderate to uptempo tracks including “Where Are You Now,” “Come Back to Me,”“Love Will Never Do Without You,” “What About,” “That’s the Way Love Goes,” and the J. Cole-assisted “No Sleep.”
To wrap what was presumed to be the end of a vibrant show (she returned for an encore) the Grammy winner went from “If” to “Rhythm Nation,” marking a dance reunion as Jackson was joined on stage by all her former and current dancers (a.k.a her “kids”) who she took the time to introduce one by one.
With all the changes in her personal life — giving birth to her first child in January, and later separating from her husband Wisaam Al Mana — it seems that Jackson channeled any angst that comes with life alterations, into her stage performance. To the audience, she appeared adrenalized, rejuvenated, and genuinely happy to be back on stage.
But Jackson’s tour isn’t just a reminder of her impact on music, fashion, and dance, it’s a testament to surviving the entertainment industry and showing a younger generation of icons in training what career resilience looks like.
The SOTW tour travels to Las Vegas on Saturday (Oct. 14) and wraps in December 17 at Atlanta’s Phillips Arena. Click here for more tour dates.