Justin Timberlake @ M.E.N. Arena
THERE’S no fear of any expense being spared at a Justin Timberlake gig.
The global megastar is pretty sure he knows how to wow an audience – and that’s with a feast for the eyes quite unlike any ever seen at the M.E.N. Arena before it.
For one thing, the stage was completely in the round, a huge medallion-like split-level cross clasping the centre of the Arena, with fans packed to the rafters all the way around.
It meant more fans than usual could get up close and personal with JT as he lunged to the four corners and beyond during the first half’s blisteringly high energy set.
“This is my 50th show of this tour”, Justin yelps. “So I’m a little tired”.
Not that you’d know it as he gyrates with consummate ease to his hits on this, his FutureSex/LoveShow tour.
In Justin we have a perfomer so totally in control of his stage that he’s almost like a robot of pop. He’s the natural successor to Michael Jackson – nabbing a few of his moves along the way.
Every jerk and jiggle is so effortless, and his army of dancers mirror him at every turn in what is a truly awesome production.
He gets stuck into business from the off – firing off his debut solo hit Like I Love You second on the set. He does his best to treat all four corners of the arena to his loveliness, but as is always the downside with this sort of staging, you can at times get to feel a little left out.
Vast voiles descended on to the stage for large parts of the show with videos of JT beamed onto them, but I couldn’t help but feel at times there was so much going on on stage, you struggled to see where the man of the moment was himself.
You certainly get your money’s worth with Justin though.
An hour-long-set is followed by a brief DJ interlude by JT’s producer cohort Timbaland, before he bounced back on stage for another 90-minute set. Things are a little more laid back for the second half, with Justin showing off his musical skills with an intimate acoustic set on piano and guitar of his former N*Sync hits.
Things get back into full speed with Cry Me A River, and then a synthesiser solo by JT leads into a pumping SexyBack for the conclusion.
He returns for one encore with an emotional thanks to all his fans.
“I want you to know I wake up every morning and think, this is just so much fun. I want each and every one of you to know how grateful I am. don’t want to get too cheesy, but I am so cheesy”.
What a refreshing confession from such a massive star.