There aren’t many pop artists with a 36-year discography who would begin a massive touring production with a B-side track. Then again, there’s only one Janet Jackson.
The 2018 leg of Jackson’s 'State of the World' tour made its only Pennsylvania stop at Hersheypark Stadium Friday night in Hershey, PA. The show kicked off with a short video of news clips of current affairs, from mass shootings to immigrant children in migrant camps. Jackson emerged shortly thereafter with a crew of young, diverse dancers, launching into 1989’s “Skin Game,” which was the B-side to “Come Back to Me” during the “Rhythm Nation” album cycle.
The start of the concert was fitting for an artist whose work has often touched on social issues. Jackson explained her decision to resurrect the somewhat obscure track on her Instagram just three days before her Hershey appearance. “It’s important to me for people to understand where ‘Skin Game’ came from…
Basically, the ‘Skin Game’ is talking about racism, so it was written for that time back then, and it’s still very relevant today,” Jackson said in the video. “That’s why I kind of pulled it out of the archives.”
The tone of current events circled back around at the show’s encore, when Jackson performed the tour’s namesake “State of the World.” Besides those two moments, however, the show didn’t harbor on current events.
Rather, much of the show felt like a pure celebration of Jackson’s long and accomplished career.