Concert Review: by Matt Bauer 

Janet Jackson “State of the World” Tour:

Wonderful Things Come to Those Who Wait. 

photos: Bertram Smith / Spottas Photography

photos: Bertram Smith / Spottas Photography

The Janet Jackson “State of the World” Tour:Wonderful Things Come to Those Who Wait.  That proved especially true when Janet Jackson brought her “The State Of The World” tour to the Key Bank Center last Saturday night. The birth of Miss Jackson's first baby led to a 2016 postponement but given the state of world and domestic affairs, the socially conscious performance seemed especially pertinent now.

Clad in black and spinning a cane ,with video images of Africa, Syria and inner city turmoil, not to mention names like Eric Garner in the background, Jackson opened the show with the one-two punch of “The Knowledge” and “State Of The World” (both from the 1989 landmark “Rhythm Nation 1814” album). Indeed, she continues to “stay woke” and her music's transformative power in times of upheaval eschewed any sense of nostalgia and proved to be the overall theme of the evening. And at 51, she's still one of the most exciting performers to ever grace a stage.

Accompanied by nine dancers—including Buffalo's Allison Buczkowski- ---and backed by a nine piece band, Jackson was breathtaking as classics like “Miss You Much,” “The Pleasure Principle,” “Love Will Never Do (Without You),” “Escapade” and, most poignantly given the number of legends lost in the past two years, “Together Again,” were delivered with fantastic showmanship that rendered them timeless while also serving as potent reminders of her astonishing breadth of influence.

A few surprises abounded as well, most notably the harrowing “What About” (from 1997's “The Velvet Rope”) where the dancers acted out substance and domestic abuse into a performance piece that transcended music into pure, visceral drama highlighting Jackson's most emotional vocals of the night.

“Rhythm Nation” was the fitting climax, a still devastating slice of thunderous, Sly-Stone influenced funk and a musical call to consciousness and unity as relevant as it was almost three decades ago with militantly sharp choreography to match.

Nearly 40 years into her recording career, Janet Jackson remains one of the most iconic and significant musical artists. If this current tour is any indication, she'll be ruling as the true queen of pop for many years to come.

Review by Matt Bauer 

Diana Ross: Still The Boss!

After over half a century Diana Ross still knows how to make an entrance. Anticipation in the near sell out crowd reigned as the white curtain dropped to the ground and the diva of divas emerged to the rousing chorus of “I'm Coming Out.” Radiant in a turquoise dress (the first of four she would don throughout her performance), the now 72-year old Ross still makes an awesome impact on stage, one that the audience at The Seneca Events Center in the Seneca Niagara Casino,  Friday September 1st  won't soon forget.

It's been less than a year and a half since Miss Ross performed at the venue but given the crowd's reaction it could have been twenty. A seven-song Supremes medley had the majority of the smiling crowd on its feet and fifty years later the likes of “Love Child,” “You Can't Hurry Love” and “Stop, In The Name of Love” sound as fresh as the day they were recorded Motown's snakepit Studio. They were lovingly rendered with grace and aplomb by Miss Ross, her six-piece backing band and three backing singers.

At a brisk 75 minutes, the performance covered every facet of the legendary Miss Ross's career and while there were a few curious exclusions, “Endless Love,” for one, it never seemed hurried or perfunctory—and her voice remains remarkable. Nowhere was this more apparent than on “Do You Know Where You're Going To” where her transcendent soprano made it the highlight of the evening and exhilarating classics like “Love Hangover” and “Upside Down” remain potent milestones in dance music culture.

True to Miss Ross's universal appeal, a little girl and a transgendered person were invited on stage to dance and sing on the latter. Even more playful was a spry “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” while “The Look Of Love” served as a seductive interlude. A medley of the regal “Ain't No Mountain High Enough” and the empowering “I Will Survive” closed the show on a dramatic, inspirational note. In a climate that appears just as fractured as it was when she first emerged from Detroit's Brewster Projects, Diana Ross still weaves a spell of black girl magic that is as captivating as ever!