Janet Jackson at Glastonbury: a pop megamix, a stadium production and the making of a new ‘legends slot’

The Sunday legends slot has become a Glastonbury stalwart. It’s that time at the festival where almost everyone on site gathers to watch Paul Simon or Dolly Parton or Barry Gibb or – this year, Kylie (see you there).

Janet Jackson was not booked for that slot, so she decided to carve her own, brand new legends slot instead: a full-scale dance production with stage set crammed into a 50 minute slot at the arse end of Saturday afternoon.

Not content to miss out any of the hits, she instead plays the whole thing out as a big megamix, giving it the feel of a weekend show on commercial radio, or a party where the person in charge of the Spotify has had a few too many and can’t bear to let a song play out to the end. So we get one verse and one chorus of, for example, ‘The Best Things In Life Are Free’, one of many hits that reminds the crowd that Janet Jackson had shit loads of hits.

And history (if not ‘HisStory’) it turns out, has been kind to those hits of Janet Jackson – that crunchy ’80s production sounds minty-fresh today, and they’re reproduced by her live band, who are tucked away under the two-tier stage, exactly as-they-were.

Jackson, for her part, never the greatest singer but always a wonderful performer, does the full song-and-dance bit, body popping through choreographed routines, throwing her all into it, being, in every way, a superstar, telling “Glas-ton-berry” that she was starting to love the place.

‘What Have You Done For Me Lately’ is as biting and sharp as ever, ‘That’s The Way Love Goes’ is a glorious nu-jack swing jam and a closing ‘Rhythm Nation’ evokes that game-changing tour, back when she was nipping at the heels of Michael. In this, she pays tribute to “my brothers, The Jacksons’ with a short dance routine.

For so long – arguably her entire career – Janet lived in the shadow of her megastar brother. This year, after all we’ve learned about Michael, her appearance feels not like an opportunistic moment to grab the limelight but a time to shine in her own right, and to remind the world how talented that family are.

Janet Jackson played: 

Trust A Try
What Have You Done For Me Lately
R&B Junkie
The Best Things In Life Are Free
All For You
Come On Get Up
Rock With U
That’s The Way Love Goes
Made For TV
State Of The World
The Knowledge
Miss You Much
Love Will Never Do (Without You)
Black Cat
Rhythm Nation