The meticulously planned comeback of one of pop’s biggest stars has been a huge success. Since releasing one of the best sold records last year (and a not-so-well received second part), it feels like Justin Timberlake never left at all. He was constantly everywhere: on the radio with Mirrors, on stage with Jay Z, at awards shows with a bunch of statues, or in your face at one of his many stops of The 20/20 Experience tour. But damn, the world did miss an artist like Timberlake. With Usher on a full time employment with The Voice, there really is no male artist for JT to compete with. He’s perfected a show where everybody will have a good time. Whether you’re 28 and like Justin for his rap-collaborations or you’re 53 and accompany your 15 year old daughter; you will leave completely satisfied.
That doesn’t mean it’s not hard work. Even though Justin makes it look like he’s cruising, he’s working his ass off. The crowd last night was especially hard,1 but Timberlake did everything to make the night a success. He sounded great2 and while mixing old songs with his new material, Justin danced across a large stage with some of the best visual effects I’ve seen in person. His band, the Tennessee Kids, didn’t miss a beat and was a major part of the show. It took a while, but the crowd got into it right before half-time. Yes, you read that right. After Holy Grail (no Jay Z, of course) introduced Cry Me A River (with a corny Smells Like Teen Spirit-sample), Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids took a ten-minute break. Maybe it was to set up the stage for the second half, or to give you the opportunity to get drinks without missing a second of the show, but either way, it felt pretty weird.
The break was immediately forgotten once Justin came back amidst a bunch of lasers and aggressively singing Only When I Walk Away. It was unclear whether the distorted voice came from tape or if he used some form of autotune like Kanye does, but it damn sure was effective. Followed by the surprisingly popular Drink You Away, Justin could do no wrong. With a clever move to a second stage in the middle of the stadium, the show moved to another level. With covers of Elvis Presley (Heartbreak Hotel) and Michael Jackson (Human Nature), he didn’t even need his own material. After performing What Goes Around Comes Around and Take Back The Night, Justin Timberlake returned to the main stage to close out the show. With Murder and Suit & Tie, it became clear he would be returning to the stage to perform the last two of his biggest hits: SexyBack and Mirrors.3 All 35,000 people in attendance were standing by now and there’s only one conclusion to draw: Justin Timberlake is the one and only heir to the King of Pop’s throne.
- Seriously, I have never been to a show this big, where 35,000 people need to warm up to a show like this. You can’t blame JT. If Rock Your Body, Like I Love You, My Love and TKO don’t get you excited, I don’t know what will. ↩
- I saw Justin once before in another arena. The sound there was so awful, I couldn’t hear one word of the opening acts. It got better when Justin hit the stage, but let’s just say I was grateful he chose a different venue this time. ↩
- Due to extremely poor traffic arrangements, I arrived ten minutes late. Of course, professional as he is, Justin started right on time so I missed the first couple of songs. I had no idea what songs he didn’t perform yet, so to me the encore was a complete surprise. ↩