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  • Mike Bell - Calgary Sun - July 11 2001!

    Substance sadly missing

    CALGARY -- Style, substance and sex appeal. Three things that most men are looking for in a woman. Throw in a little nastiness and you've got yourself a complete unbeatable package.

    Janet Jackson, who performed at the Saddledome last night to a vocal crowd of approximately 13,500 fans, almost delivered the goods. Unfortunately, she was missing one key ingredient that would have sealed the deal -- substance. And so absent was that ingredient that it, for the most part, overshadowed all of her other fine features.

    The youngest Jackson started her show, her first Calgary appearance in 11 years, with a bang. Literally, thanks to a pair of flash pops. And then came the whimper, as, in one of those priceless Spinal Tap moments, there was a malfunction with the curtain that was supposed to part revealing the diminutive pop starlet standing on a pedestal. As a pair of stage hands attempted to yank it away manually, the energy -- built up by a sexy photo montage projected on the curtain and then the explosions -- seemed to evaporate. Ah, you live by the theatrical stage show, you die by its imperfections.

    From there, Jackson and her backup dancers did their best to pump things back up to a respectable level with a trio of high-energy numbers -- Come On Up, You Ain't Right and the title track -- from her latest album All For You. Each was expertly choreographed to showcase Janet's sexy moves, and to detract from the fact that she, it appeared, was lip syncing.

    Actually for the majority of the evening, as she performed the hits from her two-decade long musical career it seemed like her music -- extremely catchy R&B dance pop -- took a backseat to the dancing. Each song was more like a music video, complete with numerous costume changes, then an actual piece of music. And that's where the substance was lost. Even an attempt to strip things back to just the song, as she took centre stage with her guitarist to perform a simple ballad was demolished by a completely insincere moment as she basked in a four-minute ovation and wept crocodile tears. It was one of the most shameless things I've ever seen.