Just after her 53rd birthday, Janet Jackson took the stage Friday at Park MGM's Park Theater to kick off her Las Vegas residency, which is called Metamorphosis.
She was lowered from the rafters while perched in neon Taurus emblem dressed in a marabou feather robe, channeling what seemed to be her best homage to fellow Strip performer Diana Ross.
The two-hourlong singing and dancing pop experience, with a half-dozen costume changes and a setlist that offered close to 40 songs, was primed for her most diehard fans as Jackson delivered hit after hit from her four-decadelong career. Every move was performed to a tee and emulated all her legendary videos — ”Rhythm Nation,” “Control,” “Nasty” and “Love Will Never Do” — of the 1980s and ’90s.
The expansive stage was adorned with 360-degree screens that amplified Jackson's presence. And what an image Jackson cast — wind-blown piles of red curls, the military-style oversize wardrobe, the coquettish grin — everything thoroughly Janet.
Mid-show, a thunderous round of applause brought the performer to tears as she addressed the audience. “At 7 years old, I made my debut right here in Las Vegas at the MGM Hotel with my brother and sisters, it’s so amazing how things come full circle,” she said.
This was just one of the many ways in which she revealed herself. There was also a video interlude celebrating the "metamorphosis" she underwent when becoming a mother. The intention of the residency is to peel back the layers of Jackson's intensely private life, from a young girl to a global icon.
Overall, Metamorphosis could be considered minimalist by Las Vegas standards. Those who have gone before her, such as Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani, have gone for highly stylized productions, reinterpreting their classics with an updated vibe and approach — with arrangement, costumes and sets meant to engage both diehards and newbies.
Jackson goes for a simpler approach, offering the tried-and-true in a show that is crafted for fans. The stage is the platform, the production comes from the screens and lighting. It’s the memories that the dance numbers spark in the minds of audience that get the most play. And when it was that good to begin with, does it really need to be recast? In Jackson’s world, it doesn’t. Plus, 30 years later, Rhythm Nation still rocks.
After her kick-off show, Jackson attended the Metamorphosis afterparty at the Houston Brothers’ On the Record at Park MGM in head-to-toe camouflage. Also in attendance were Gabrielle Union, Queen Latifah, Eve, Yvette Nicole Brown, Scott Evans, Sibley Scoles and Carrie Ann Inaba.
Three additional dates, Aug. 14, 16 and 17, have been added to the 15 previously announced shows. Park Theater is also home to Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Cher, among others.