Janet Jackson is in full control, delivers regal experience at Atlanta stop

Jermaine Dupri made a surprise appearance at the State Farm Arena show

Before Janet Jackson dazzled the State Farm Arena stage on Wednesday night, Atlanta-bred rapper Ludacris, sporting his signature cornrows, opened the show and performed a set that was as animated as it was nostalgic and made you feel like you were watching the Ludacris from the early aughts. The legendary rapper performed hits like “What’s Your Fantasy,” “Lovers & Friends” and more. The “Fast & Furious” star even included props from his classic videos, like the larger-than-life Air Force 1′s he wore in the 2003 video for “Stand Up” and the fake arms he donned in 2004′s “Get Back.”

His roughly 30-minute set started promptly at 7:45 and energized his hometown crowd for Jackson’s return to the stage. The pop icon’s “Together Again” tour stop in Atlanta was her first one in the city since 2017 at Philips Arena (which is now State Farm Arena). Wednesday’s show was the first of Jackson’s two-day concert in Atlanta. The second show was initially scheduled for Thursday night, but a Hawks playoff upset against the Boston Celtics forced the show to be postponed until Friday night, which kicks off Taylor Swift’s weekend takeover at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

After a video montage highlighted some of the best moment’s of Jackson’s career, the 56-year-old legend graced the stage in a purple hooded robe looking as royal as ever. Her massive setlist, featuring about 40 songs, was touted as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of her 1997 album “The Velvet Rope,” and the 30th anniversary of “Janet,” which turns 30 in May. But the show was more than that. It wasn’t just about the music. It was about how Janet Jackson’s music makes you feel.

And as she serenaded the audience with a sultry performance of “That’s the Way Love Goes,” and “I Get Lonely” (the latter featuring Jackson giving one of her dancers a lap dance), she made you feel sexy. While dance breaks at the end of songs like “So Much Betta” and “All For You,” reminded that the singer has never missed a beat, she switched to a more intimate setting with a sit-down performance of “Come Back to Me” and “Let’s Wait Awhile.”

Singer Janet Jackson performs during the European MTV Awards in Bilbao, Spain, on Nov. 4, 2018. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP, File)

Credit: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

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Credit: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

She built more momentum after a surprise performance with her ex-boyfriend, Atlanta music mogul Jermaine Dupri, for their 2006 collaboration “Do It 2 Me.” Although the chemistry between the pair didn’t seem as convincing, his mere presence onstage was enough to spark dating rumors. The performance was immediately followed by an unreleased song that has a groovy, Spanish flair but ended too abruptly to fully captivate the audience.

The ending of the concert’s four-part act concluded with Jackson’s earlier hits like 1989′s “Escapade” and “Miss You Much.” But it was her performance of the blockbuster smash “Rhythm Nation” that truly electrified the audience. Her voice sounded as powerful as ever even while performing the popular dance moves from the video. She reminded everyone of both her commanding stage presence and her ability to deliver iconic dance moves. She did it all with that soft, yet indelible voice that has soundtracked American pop culture for four decades, making her one of the greatest stars of all-time.

Wednesday night’s concert featured a behemoth list of songs and at least four costume changes that were often hard to follow throughout the night, but it was a performance that was fit for a pop queen. Her impact and influence on pop culture is too vast to fit in a two-hour show. Throughout the concert, many fans in the audience yelled “Get it, Janet,” and recreated her dance moves in the stands as she performed them onstage.

Wednesday night turned into a makeshift dance party. Janet still got it, indeed.