As the headline act for this year’s RNB Fridays Live concert series, her first show in Perth was marred by claims of lip-syncing, poor sound quality and apparent walkouts, leaving fans a little unsure what to expect at the global superstar’s Melbourne performance on Saturday night.
We need not have worried. Shortly after 10pm, the 53-year-old emerged on stage at Marvel Stadium in a shimmering black jumpsuit, gingerly making her way down a narrow staircase as she opened her set with the 1986 hit, Control.
It was indeed a relatively controlled start, hindered in part by patchy audio (which had plagued the six-hour event for much of the day) and a soulless venue filled with far too many empty spaces (a last-minute decision to start selling all-ages tickets evidently failed to prop up sales.)
But Jackson is a consummate professional and, after an eight-year absence from touring in Australia, she gave her faithful fans exactly what they’d come for: trademark dance moves, flashy pyrotechnics and chart-topping bangers.
Her 50-minute performance was short but sweet: just enough to please the nostalgic audience with tunes such as the sexually provocative If, the socially conscious Rhythm Nation and the upbeat All For You among the highlights.
Since its debut in 2016, RNB Fridays has showcased some of the biggest names in the genre. This year was no exception, with 50 Cent, Jason Derulo, Brandy, Sisqo, Keri Hilson and J-Kwon also on the bill.
But it was the Black Eyed Peas who stole the show, sending the crowd into a frenzy with their infectious energy and catalogue of hits including Let’s Get It Started, Where Is The Love and I Gotta Feeling.
With Jessica Reynoso from The Voice Philippines emerging as the group’s newest female vocalist, will.i.am, Taboo, and apl.de.ap gave an exuberant performance that raised the temperature on an otherwise chilly Melbourne night and helped lift the vibe just in time for the main event.