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Photos: Janet Jackson Brings Her Majestic 'Unbreakable World Tour' To Chicago

By Justin Freeman in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 4, 2015 5:50PM

It's like a family picnic inside the Chicago Theatre at the moment. A middle aged DJ who looks like he could be my uncle is wearing a gold sequined hat while playing V103 approved dusties. Most of the growing crowd is stepping while dressed in their Sunday best. A man who appears to be wearing Stacy Adams alligator print boots and has the scent of recently smoked Newports is on one side of me. A woman wearing a feathered church crown is near me as well. She's fanning herself with a piece of paper and clapping intensely as the DJ remixes various Janet Jackson songs with elements of classic Chicago house.

Inevitably a playful argument breaks out. Several people near me are trying to sort out who is the biggest Janet fan by trying to impress each other with random facts.

“Oh yeah? Well, I went to her Velvet Rope tour when I was in high school,” one person says. “I travelled from Toronto to be here,” the other responds before they both share a laugh and an embrace.

Janet Jackson's current world tour is a major deal. Last month Unbreakable, her first album in seven years, was released and the J. Cole featuring lead single “No Sleeep” was been a presence near the top of the Billboard charts ever since. A world tour was subsequently announced, her first since 2011 when she toured off of her greatest hits album, Number Ones. She sold out two dates at the Chicago Theatre almost instantly and a third date was added, which also sold out quite quickly.

Janet Jackson is majestic. Flanked by a crew of eight extremely talented backup dancers and dressed opulently in black and gold, Jackson looks like a pharaoh with a coven of priestesses, while violet minimalist geometric visuals adorned the screen behind her.

She started off with a song from the new album, the Missy Elliot featuring “BURNITUP!” and didn't let go from there. Classics like “Escapade,” “Got Till It's Gone,” and “Rhythm Nation” are as powerful as ever and I'm still stunned that she was able to get the vast majority of the Chicago Theatre to pogo during “Together Again.” Janet doing her portion of Michael Jackson's “Scream” was another highlight of the night as she payed homage to her late brother without exploiting his memory.

Towards the end of her set, she played “Shoulda Known Better,” a new song that's a commentary on civil rights. Visuals of the struggle that the working class endures flashed across the screen while her dancers were are now wearing black hoodies with the word “Unbreakable” boldly written on them pump the Black Power fist in the air to the pulse of the drums in a performance reminiscent of D'Angelo's “The Charade.”

At one point during the set, Jackson exclaimed, “It's all about love!” She briefly stopped to let the adoration linger, but only for a moment. The drums kicked back in and the backup dancers assembled around her. Without hesitation, the show went on.