Helen Elfer chatted to the US superstar after her Abu Dhabi gig
Were you looking forward to the UAE leg of your tour? I love the Middle East and couldn’t wait for my show in Abu Dhabi. I did try to see some sights while I was there, but I spent most of my time at the hotel or Yas Arena.
How would you describe the show? Did you enjoy it? I love to perform in arenas, and I’ve been having so much fun on this tour. Abu Dhabi is so different from the more intimate venues – on most of this tour, I’ve been able to look out into the audience and see everyone’s faces. The Number Ones tour is not about pyrotechnics, it’s about my fans and me. I hope that when everyone comes to my show, wherever it is in the world, they can forget their worries and have fun, if only for that time. Even though Yas Arena is not as intimate as some other venues, I still believe we felt the love.
You played many of your greatest hits. Which song brings back the happiest memories for you? Oh, that’s like asking me to pick a favourite child! I love them all for different reasons. When I write my music, it’s very personal and based on what I’m going through at the time. So when I’m singing, I remember those times. I also remember how much life changes from one moment to the next.
What inspired you to move away from the dramatic special effects of your previous tours and concentrate on the songs themselves? I was in New York performing at Radio City Music Hall. It was so much fun for me to be able to look out into the audience and see the faces of everyone there. While I was performing, all I could think was that this was how I wanted to do my next tour.
At 45, does your approach to touring differ compared with 10 or 20 years ago? No, not really. The approach is the same. The discipline is the same. I’m having more fun than ever before.
Playing a fast-paced set in 35 cities must be exhausting – how do you keep you energy levels up throughout the tour? I try to eat healthily, get in all my meals, which can be difficult, and make sure I get plenty of rest. I exercise a lot, especially during the tour. I get up and exercise every day, and then we do the show at night, which is another two hours of cardio.
You’re a writer, actress, dancer and singer. Which means the most to you? I’m really enjoying doing it all right now. It has been very energising for me to go back on tour and perform for the fans, and I plan to go back into the studio later this year or early next year to record a new CD. I’ve never been that great at multitasking, but I’m trying to get better at it. If you missed the Abu Dhabi show, Janet Jackson’s latest compilation album, Number Ones, is available now to buy from Virgin Megastores and to download from iTunes.