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Janet Jackson brings the rhythm nation ‘Together Again’ on latest tour

Janet Jackson brings the rhythm nation ‘Together Again’ on latest tour

There were more than a few moments at Janet Jackson’s “Together Again” concert at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ on Tuesday night where I could see strangers indeed “smiling back at me.”

There was “When I Think of You,” the first of Miss Jackson’s 10 No. 1 singles way back in 1986.

Then there was “Love Will Never Do (Without You),” that Minneapolis pop-funk perfection that topped the charts in 1990.

And then there was the back-to-back bliss of “Escapade” and “Miss You Much,” both No. 1 hits from 1989’s blockbuster “Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814” — arguably her best of four straight classics starting with 1986’s “Control” and continuing through 1997’s “The Velvet Rope.”

Janet Jackson dives into deep cuts as well as chart-topping hits on her “Together Again” tour. Solaiman Fazel

By that time, there was no doubt: We really missed you much, Janet.

Although the 2024 edition of her “Together Again” tour — a career-spanning celebration, named after yet another chart-topper — continues the same trek that reunited the lock-stepping members of the Rhythm Nation last year, it still felt like Jackson was that bestie or auntie that you forgot just how much you loved until you saw them again.

But as much as this tour was for the real ones — those that knew the string of deep cuts that Jackson dipped into from jump — this was also a joyous Jan-fam jam of songs that have stood the test of time for going on 40 years now.

It’s hard to think of many songs by Ariana Grande, Beyoncé or, yes, even Taylor Swift that will still be rocking the arena four decades later like “Nasty,” “The Pleasure Principle” or “Rhythm Nation.”

The lady has hits — and more hits. Timeless, tuneful classics that aren’t built around fads or viral TikTok anomalies.

And although, at 58, Jackson is no longer the dancer she once was — or have the production budget that she once had — she is a straight-up superstar who commands the stage like no other pop diva of her era short of Madonna.

Janet Jackson is still leading the Rhythm Nation on her ‘Together Again” tour. Solaiman Fazel
The Newark show featured many of Jackson’s iconic hits. Solaiman Fazel

They, quite simply, don’t make them like her anymore.

So Jackson could be forgiven if she began her show with a deep-cut medley of  “Night” (from 2015’s woefully underappreciated “Unbreakable”), “2nite” (from 2008’s likewise underrated “Discipline”) and “SloLove (from 2004’s also overlooked “Damita Jo”) before taking it back to the house-booming beats of the “janet.” jam “Throb.” 

They were all songs that would’ve gotten more love if it weren’t for the Nipplegate controversy at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show that wrongfully changed — make that, crushed — her career 20 years ago.

But Jackson — who will continue her “Together Again” tour at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Wednesday night — is a survivor, an indisputable icon, who is still here to be celebrated and appreciated.

What has she done for us lately? Be legendary.

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