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Crónica e imágenes: «The 20/20 Experience» World Tour en Edmonton, 13/14 de ene.

Justin Timberlake reanudó, tras las vacaciones navideñas, la gira de conciertos «The 20/20 Experience World Tour» en Edmonton, capital de la provincia canadiense de Alberta, donde actuó las noches del 13 y 14 de enero.

Dressed up fans scream for the Justin Timberlake Experience

EDMONTON Journal — In hindsight, does it really matter that Justin Timberlake’s newest albums were sonic disappointments?

After a six-year break to flex his acting muscles, fans were so desperate to hear JT’s new tunes, they snapped up 2.4 million copies of his turgid comeback, The 20/20 Experience — making it the bestselling album of 2013. His sequel, 2 of 2, was even worse — and didn’t sell as well — but still managed to pick up a Grammy nod for Best Pop Vocal Album, bundled with the first volume.

Some critics say he was snubbed by Grammy organizers because he wasn’t nominated in any of the top categories, including Album of the Year. (His first two efforts were each nominated.) Boo hoo. Timberlake recently won three People’s Choice Awards and charmed even the crankiest of souls with his latest appearance on Saturday Night Live. Not to mention all the stops on The 20/20 Experience World Tour, where his real skills as a dealer of seductive R&B-pop nuggets shine bright. Not like a diamond, but an entire galaxy of stars.

Edmonton finally got a chance to inhale his musical elixirs on Monday night — the first of two spectacular (and almost sold-out shows) at Rexall Place. (None for Calgary, once again. Fist pump!) «I’m just a junkie for your love», he gushed on the opening number, Pusher Love Girl, as thousands of addicts — women and (plenty of) men — screamed and shook their booties to the slinky R&B track from JT’s first 20/20 album. They danced in front of their seats, they shimmied in the aisles, they sang along with their arms around their friends’ shoulders.

The former Mouseketeer and boy-band survivor, on the verge of his 33rd birthday, is such a consummate singer and dancer, he deftly turned his mediocre recordings into smooth, adrenalin-pumping tracks. That’s a skill no amount of golden gramophones can ever reflect.

Backed by the chirps of crickets, Don’t Hold The Wall became a mysterious, Moroccan-flavoured ditty — powered by his band of singers, drummers, guitarists and brass section, the Tennessee Kids. (As impressive as they were during the show, didn’t it sound like they were assisted by pre-recorded tracks from time to time?) TKO was a knockout — rumbling with horns as Timberlake and his six dancers, all clad in suits and ties, slid across the stage, effortlessly flowing from Fred Astaire-style rond de jambes to street-inspired stuttery arm moves.

Timberlake also played some of his older hits during the first of Monday’s two sets — including Rock Your Body, a funky, get-down-and-party number from his solo debut, Justified (2002); and FutureSex/LoveSound, a sci-fi come-on sprinkled with clanging beats, a tuba and a chorus inspired by Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust. «Do you like it like this? Do you like it like that?» the former ‘NSYNCer whispered, then sealed the deal with a tour-de-force rendition of My Love from FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006). What started off as a choppy remix morphed into an old-school torch ballad before the song’s familiar reverberating beats and Timberlake’s soaring falsetto took over. Swoon.

Timberlake didn’t really need an opener, but DJ Freestyle Steve did the honours — spinning a soundtrack of hip-hop and pop tunes as fans made their way to their seats and waited for the main attraction, getting progressively loosened up with beer and cocktails. (Ticketmaster and the venue didn’t provide official attendance figures.)

Thanks to a silly rumour, some poor fans thought Jay Z would show up — a repeat of his Legends of the Summer tour with JT? — but the hip-hop mogul was performing in his old stomping grounds of Brooklyn on Monday night.

However, Timberlake’s wife — actress Jessica Biel — was spotted along Whyte Avenue, and posed for photos with fans, on Sunday afternoon. More importantly, he hung out with super fan Amanda Renneberg before Monday’s show. The Sherwood Park woman, who is battling a rare progressive degenerative disorder, started a Facebook campaign to meet her idol.

«Holy F so I just met Justin Timberlake!!!!!» she wrote on Facebook about two hours before the concert.

He can sing, dance, has a great sense of humour, ain’t bad to look at AND he’s generous to his fans. When’s JT going to run for president already?

Justin Timberlake mines many musical genres at Rexall Place

EDMONTON Sun — Justin Timberlake is living proof that if you fake it long enough, that if you really want to become a slick-talking, high singing hybrid of Michael Jackson and Prince — even you got your start on the Mickey Mouse Club and once dated Britney Spears — then by God you can do it!

Besides, you can learn soul. Can’t you? You can buy soul. You can surround yourself with people who have soul. You can give soul a makeover and thrill thousands of fans in a gaudy concert spectacular that bubbles over with sex and soul to the point that you’re so delirious you can’t tell one from the other. That was basically the scene at Rexall Place Monday night for the first of two shows from the lucky and talented former N-Syncer.

Just imagine where he was just a decade or so ago, in one of those boy bands that everyone loved to hate, hated to love and soon got tired of. But he doesn’t need those other guys. By himself, Justin is five times more entertaining, five times funkier and has approximately five times as much money to blow on massive production. Haven’t checked the figures here, but there sure was a lot of gear up there. It was an eye-popping spectacle.

Think of his old boy band as a Saturn V rocket, launching its brightest son into high Earth orbit before falling off and burning up in the atmosphere with all those other boy bands from the ’90s. What? They’re back and bigger than ever? New Kids on the Block, too? Well, never mind. Point is, Justin is doing just fine on his own.

JT’s The 20/20 Experience, named after the new album of the same name and chock full of the songs therein, was clear enough: Not so much a series of coherent tunes as a set of funktastic soundscapes framed in bombastic Broadway production numbers designed to show off the star’s gifts in the best light possible. Not much room for spontaneity here, but that’s theatre for you.

The night started with Pusher Love Girl to introduce his famous falsetto, and some of the impressive staging tricks he brought with him. Often in these things the star of the show emerges — surprise! — from some hole in the stage. Not this time. Justin was on stage by himself for the opening and the entire freakin’ band emerged from below the stage, all 16 members, including two drummers, four back-up singers and four horn players. Everyone, including the star, dressed like the waitstaff on the Titanic. It’s a modern-retro thing. The six back-up dancers came shortly thereafter, with Justin being twerked by three of them — the new rage in choreography — tearing it up on Rock Your Body.

Songs in a similar vein riddled the evening: FutureSex/LoveSound, Like I Love You, My Love, SummerLove, LoveStoned, and SexyBack expected to end the show later on. In short, these are pick-up lines and third-date seductions set to music. Not so much heartbreak here. Not yet, anyway. Styles ranged widely from tender ballads like My Love — featuring Justin playing a white grand piano — to fizzy, full-contact, Latin-infused funk jams like True Blood. The bossa nova you can blame it on was evoked later in Senorita, while things got a bit folky when the star donned an acoustic guitar in Drink You Away, which he said was about drinking, but is really about sex. Or soul. Or something.

Justin is at least as good a dancer as he is a singer, and an even better actor, as it turns out. Is there anything this guy can’t do? Elvis? Nope, he did Heartbreak Hotel, too. Bit of Miami Sound Machine. Remember Miami Sound Machine? He did some Michael Jackson. He did some Kool and the Gang. There is nothing this guy can’t do.

The show repeats Tuesday.

4 Suns out of 5

Justin Timberlake wows the crowd at Rexall Place in Edmonton

metro — It may have taken seven years for Justin Timberlake to return to Edmonton, but it appears that seven-year itch has now been scratched.

Timberlake kicked of 2014 leg of the JT — The 20/20 Experience Tour at Rexall on Monday to a sold out crowd and was followed up by another, funk-infused spectacle on Tuesday night.

It seems like everything Timberlake touches these days turns to gold. Whether it is flexing his comedic muscle on Saturday Night Live or the highly anticipated musical return to his home on stage, Timberlake can seem to do no wrong in the eyes of his fans. And Monday night was no different.

When the lights went out at Rexall Place on Monday night, it was not long until Timberlake emerged out onto the stage solo. As he began Pusher Love Girl, The Tennessee Kids rose up from underneath the stage.

Timberlake radiated nothing but pure class when he stepped out into the spotlight, donning a dapper white suit and tie, with the band in matching outfits. Despite the squeaky clean image, Timberlake could have stepped out in sweatpants and a mustard-stained T-shirt and the cheers would have been equally as loud.

But while Timberlake may have looked the part, it became quite clear that this experience was for the adults with f-bombs taking flight and nudity (not Timberlake’s unfortunately) gracing the high-tech backdrop on the spectacular and intricate stage.

Timberlake didn’t disappoint when it came to belting out his hits. Before the intermission, Timberlake rocked his way through TKO, My Love, Summer Love, Love Stoned, and Holy Grail/Cry Me A River, while reminding fans why he’s one of the most well-rounded entertainers in the world today.

After a very short intermission, Timberlake impressed crowds with another 90 minutes of his new music and fan favourites, including his signature smooth moves, infectious sounds and charm that could be felt around Rexall. He even showed more depth to his musical abilities by stepping up to the piano and picking up the guitar for an Elvis cover tune.

It appeared that no expense was spared on the visuals for this show, from an elaborate laser show, to a stage that splits a part and travels the length of the arena. At this show, there really was no bad seat.

To finish off the nearly three-hours of high-energy, soulful pop performance, Timberlake brought SexyBack and capped it with Mirrors, from part one of The 20/20 Experience.

Timberlake is the first of three big musical acts to hit Rexall this week with P!NK on Thursday night and Keith Urban rounding out the week on Saturday.

Timberlake goes for soul overkill

Gigcity — Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience was more than just a pop concert. It was soul overkill.

Any possibility of subtlety or spontaneity was mercilessly crushed under a relentless barrage of pure bombast, over-arranged, over-played, overwrought. Timberlake may want to be like Prince, but he is the Meat Loaf of R&B.

You can’t blame the guy. He’s just following the status quo. Like marketers and the media have to shock citizens to get their attention, sensational overkill is expected when you’re a big star who gets to play hockey arenas. It’s prevailing practice in the concert industry these days. The biggest performers of the day try to outdo one another for sheer aural and visual spectacle that often obliterates most of their essential musicality that made them such a big deal to begin with. There are exceptions. But it’s not enough anymore to just get up there and «play» your «songs». How quaint. Let the hipster bands do that for their hipster friends.

Modern concert fans demand huge shows. The numbers speak for themselves. Timberlake sold out Rexall Place Monday night, and plays again Tuesday. He knows that in addition to perfect performances that bring the recordings to vivid, lurid life, his fans expect a dance show. He has boy band roots to live up to, after all. Justin’s choreography was top notch — with six dancers and lots of Fred Astaire-ian moves. He also had the biggest, most elaborate video screen system seen in Rexall Place, at least until the next star comes along to top it, a vast honeycomb of HD displays that showed a mind-blowing array of images. Hidden inside the honeycombs were lots and lots of lights and even frickin’ laser beams.

Justin, dapper in his retro suit, crooned and wailed through his catalogue, heavy on his new album, in a pop concert rendered as Broadway theatre. Obviously a house gig in Vegas is the next step in the evolution of the JT Experience. Maybe he could team up with Britney!

The funny thing about the whole thing is that he had this band of 16 crack musicians, the Tennessee Kids, who blew their brains out the whole night, over two sets separated by a 10 minute break — and they still added pre-recorded backing tracks to fill out the sound already stuffed to bursting. There’s no doubt they were really playing. At least the band was. Justin has been smart enough all these years to have surrounded himself with great musicians; they make him look great. And he played some instruments, too. They made a point of hovering a camera above his hands while he played grand piano in «My Love», so, yes, he really seemed to be playing the thing, but there was no way he was playing that guitar in that Latin rave-up later on. No camera that time.

There wasn’t a mistake in the entire show. Too bad; it might’ve become more human. Sometimes the vocals sounded too perfect, the horns too huge, especially with the pair of trumpet players getting involved with the dance routines on the enormous catwalk that spanned the entire width of the stage before the whole thing rose up and trundled over the heads of the cheering fans all the way to the back of the auditorium, where Justin and selected band members mingled with the lucky VIP ticket-holders, shit, that was pretty cool … and what were we talking about?

Oh, right, the music. There was music at the Justin Timberlake concert. It was as slick as it was programmed, right down to the patter, the (insert name of city here) references throughout and the frequent urging to «get this party started» even though we were clearly already in the middle of said party.

Aside from his radioactive charisma, Justin’s secret weapon was his falsetto, whose very sound makes women melt on the spot. And they did. Or at least they sounded like it. At times, coupled with some jazzy chords thrown over funky bits, he comes off exactly like Prince minus the great songs. Also, Michael Jackson — helped by the fact he did a Michael Jackson song later on. Elvis, too, and Bell Biv Devoe, Jay-Z and Kool and the Gang.

In short, some of the most memorable moments of the show were covers, and the most memorable thing about Justin Timberlake were all the roles his main character played: Mr. Cool Lovesexy, always funky, always suave, always hitting his mark. He is obviously an actor at heart — and the perfect guy to lead the way in the modern concert industry where «more is more».

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