Justin Timberlake brought sexy back to London, and transformed the Millennium Dome in the process…
Justin Timberlake played the former Millennium Dome last night (4th July) and reinvented it as a stunning live music venue.
Despite JT being on top of his game, we were almost as excited to see whether the Dome, now the O2 Arena, has improved now they’ve gotten rid of all those old body parts.
The largest indoor arena in Europe offers 360 degree seating, making it look more like a sports stadium. This forces most acts, who are used to facing the audience, to keep working their performance around the stage. Though the shape caused problems with the volume occasionally, Timberlake clearly enjoyed being surrounded by the throngs.
As he entered, enormous curved screens lowered and displayed computer enhanced images of the performance, using some clever camera trickery to keep us entertained while the show was on the far side of the circular stage.
Throughout his more upbeat numbers Justin was the perfect showman! Rushing around the stage with the kind of style that has allowed heterosexual men around the country to be comfortable referring to him as The Trousersnake. He is simply one of the best performers out there at the moment.
During the first act he showed off his musical credentials by playing his own instruments as well as singing and dancing like a man on top of his game. He climaxed with a version of What Goes Around, which included a freaky mic mounted camera, and introduced Timbaland to the stage.
Timba stayed up and played a twenty minute medley of broken beats and build ups that featured everyone from Nelly Furtado to Michael Jackson to Coldplay and included a tribute to Aaliah, and a gopher that said ‘Ho!’ – which was great!
After the break the other Timber came back and played a collection of ballads that were a little more hit and miss. But when he launched into Sexyback, his inevitable finale, the 23,000 audience members jumped to their feet simultaneously and damn near left the Arena in need of more work.
An amazing show, by a showman who’s on top of his game (and the arena wasn’t bad either!)
Justin Timberlake is brought to London with Sony Ericsson and Vodafone and is playing a total of 5 shows between now and Tuesday 10th July.
Forget the Fireworks Timberlake’s London Gig is a Bang
First Night: Justin Timberlake, The O2 Arena, London
Talented Timberlake states his case as the new King of Pop
Justin Timberlake certainly knows how to work a crowd. Even before his entrance up through the middle of the stage, shrouded in gauzy curtains and flanked by his four gangster-and-moll style backing dancers, he’s milking the 20,000 capacity audience like he’s been doing it all his life. Which he has, really: ever since his first gig, aged 10, as a mousketeer on the Disney Channel, through the frizzy-haired years of boy band stardom in *NSync to now, the slim 26-year-old in the three-piece suit and trainers from Memphis, Tennessee has lived and breathed showbusiness.
He teases his fans unashamedly – stopping his first solo hit, “Like I Love You”, half-way through, allowing just enough time for the odd boo to ripple through the crowd before picking it back up, at a more frenzied pace than before. Then there’s the patter – “If I’m going to be away from home, there’s no place I’d rather be than London” – every sentence of which is greeted with ear-splitting screams. There’s a slightly odd moment when he toasts “our troops who continue to fight for our freedom”. But no one really minds, they’re not here to see Timberlake talk.
This is The 2007 FutureSex/LoveShow, tied to last year’s concept album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, whose main concept was to “bring sexy back” with a heaving mass of testosterone-fuelled tunes produced by Timbaland, Black Eyed Peas’ Will.I.Am and Rick Rubin, among others.
Timberlake performs tracks from it, along with a few favourites from his 2002 debut, Justified, on a propeller-shaped stage whose four protruding tongues allow him to get up close and personal with his fans. He’s backed by a crack team of street dancers – none of whom come close to Timberlake’s own effortless gliding across the stage – a pleasingly chunky band featuring no less than three drummers and four excellent backing singers.
Aside from a revolving stage, occasional projections and the odd laser beam, there’s a refreshing lack of trickery. The show is really all about Timberlake, who uses the evening to showcase his myriad talents. Aside from his breath-taking dancing he sings with style, he beatboxes (on “Cry Me a River” – by far the biggest song of the night) – and he plays a bewildering array of instruments. “He’ll be on the bongos next”, remarked my companion, a little wearily.
Luckily for us there’s an interval. Timberlake re-emerges wearing a trilby and combat trousers, but – weirdly – the same shirt.
By the time he had played “Sexy Back” you leave wondering whether this hugely talented showman really could fill the gap left by that erstwhile King of Pop, Michael Jackson.