Janet Jackson / 112 : Boston Fleet Center

112's foreplay is nothing compared to the full-on sonic/sexual assault of a playful Janet...

112 may be willing to do it the bedroom, the shower, and even that little umbrella nook by the door, but tonight they won’t do it onstage. Sorry, a few well-timed winks, shout-outs to Notorious B.I.G. and your superbly unsubtle pillow talk about ‘Peaches & Cream’ can’t make bad lip synching anything more than a disappointing and unfulfilling grope and a roll over, Sean Jean jeans at your ankles. As the official foreplay to Janet Jackson, you best go work on your performance.

‘Cause these days, despite a walk-in closet’s worth of personal skeletons and past personal problems, Janet seems to be happy having fun and we like her that way. She has two decades of hits, an omnipresent smile and a mischievous eight year-old’s giggle, a dirty mind, a body for sin, and a naughty piercing habit. Right now, she’s a dancing machine – all wound up and let loose to rewrite Chic’s ‘Good Times’ as ‘All For You’, kicking dust on Madonna’s

cowboy-shtick with her Indian-inspired, buckskin-tasselled trousers.

Sure, she still has issues, as does the show. The first one involves a

kabuki nightmare with vampire-masked dancers writhing to the ex-excising

electro squiggle of ‘Son Of A Gun’. Then there’s the babe in toyland set with oversized mushrooms and jack-in-the-boxes, dancing caterpillars and ladybugs, and a giggling fairy queen Janet spouting off the nonsense chorus, [I]”Yeah yeah yeah yeah”[/I]. These are the dreams drugs and bad children’s programming are made of.

Most of the time even the heaviest things are infectiously carefree in

Janet’s world though. A big-haired history nod to ‘Miss You Much’ is exuberant not embarrassed. The still brilliant Joni Mitchell-twist on ‘Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone’ is fun rather than forlorn. The sex is fun too. And ‘What Have you Done For Me Lately?’ is not the only thing excited by a new crotch-fondling makeover. Just ask the guy who’s

strapped to a table, a dominatrix-suited Janet… sorry, Miss Jackson, astride and rubbing her, um, nasty bits all over his face; and her face – not to mention her hands – all over his nasty bits. Yes, this looks fun too.

You can cap that with Janet the tease, flirtingly playing up possibilities of the things she’d do to you if only to head bang them away with an [I]”I can’t and I won’t, but…”[/I] Where else could a political treatise on

prejudice, ‘Rhythm Nation’, or a song about a dead friend, ‘Together Again’, be so damn happy and hopeful. Lost loves, dead friends, and two hours of non-stop sweaty aerobic exercise are all fun here.

Ben Wolford