Justin Timberlake dances the night away at TD Garden
The Boston Globe — Justin Timberlake ended the night on his knees.
But he wasn’t praying, he was saying thank you. After a thrilling 2½-hour performance at the TD Garden Thursday, Timberlake dropped down and began genuflecting to the sold-out audience of over 13,500 screaming fans.
If he immediately left the stage and collapsed in a heap it would be no surprise given the amount of energy he expended in what turned out to be a nonstop performance that weaved disparate tempos, textures, moods, and styles into an exhilarating night of sleek pop soul.
With a stage reaching to both sides of the arena backed by an equally mammoth video screen made up of white honeycomb panels, Timberlake wisely packed it with his crackerjack big band the Tennessee Kids — complete with four backing vocalists and a horn section. The band members’ own contagious exuberance — and that of a sextet of dancers — went a long way toward enlivening the songs that have made Timberlake a star, including tracks from his 2013 double release “The 20/20 Experience”, as well as a handful of judicious covers.
Timberlake remains astonishingly fleet of foot as he slid, slipped, whirled, and spun his way through the night, seemingly never breaking a sweat or even creasing his natty white blazer. (Or the black one he wore in the second half.)
When he was lost in a movement — gliding through “Rock Your Body”, popping through “Like I Love You”, busting the classic Bell Biv Devoe moves on a jamming cover of “Poison” — it was as if you could see the music move through him.
And those moves came in handy as focal points when the set would occasionally move into blurrier territory. Like a lot of rhythmic top 40 Timberlake has some songs that are free of an articulated melody to grab onto within the rhythmic murk. But if a tune occasionally failed to seize, his feet never stopped dazzling.
He didn’t skimp on the spectacle either with an entire portion of the front of his stage lifting up and gliding over the heads of the crowd to the back of the arena during “Let the Groove”.
But regardless of stage stunts, lasers, or visual effects, Timberlake’s show remains a musical one foremost and his musical stagecraft was as impressive as his technical stunts.
His falsetto was in impeccable form on the highs of “Cry Me a River” and “My Love” — a symphony of hitching synths — and he injected some southern soul into the bottom of the bottle lament “Drink You Away”. He stripped “What Goes Around Come Around” to a smooth acoustic essence, swiveled his way through Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel”, and brought “SexyBack” with a convincing stomp.
Timberlake returns to the TD Garden July 19.
Five times Justin Timberlake left us speechless
Boston — Justin Timberlake delivered a TKO in Boston on Thursday night.
“The 20/20 Experience Tour” visited the Hub for its first of two 2014 stops (the second is on July 19), and Timberlake put on a spectacle that puts his former tours to shame. From having a flying stage, to performing some classic hits, here are the five times that he left us speechless during the show.
1.When he floated over our heads
When we sat down, our super sweet Section 13 usher told us that the stage would be going right over our heads. He wasn’t kidding.
After a 10-minute intermission, Timberlake kicked off round 2 of performances by boarding a moving bridge (above). The massive, arena-spanning structure was guided by two motorized bases that moved along roped-off paths bordering the coveted floor seats. On either end was a hovering platform that extended over the loge seats.
After Timberlake and his back-up singers worked their way to the opposite end of the arena on the bridge, he performed some of his more mellow tracks, took a shot of some liquor (toasting “Boston strong”) and shook hands with tons of VIPers.
He even posed for a selfie with Will Maich, left, and Alex Bain while performing.
2. When he paid tribute to Elvis and Michael Jackson
While he was on the far side of the Garden, opposite the main stage, Timberlake played a pair of songs by musical kings Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. First came his rendition of Presley’s legendary “Heartbreak Hotel,” and later Jackson’s “Human Nature.” We’re pretty sure he performed “Human Nature” when he was in Boston during his 2007 tour (which he recalled as the time he drank blueberry beer and passed out), but we loved it either way.
3. When he introduced “SexyBack”
At approximately 10:59 p.m., Timberlake introduced “SexyBack” in a rather … lascivious manner. Behold:
4. When he played “Until the End of Time”
It’s easy to imagine why Timberlake had to postpone a couple of his tour dates in order to perfect all of the elements (we forgive you for postponing the Nov. 4 show to July 19). One of the magical elements consisted of a white baby grand piano coming up out of the floor. Timberlake sat at it to play one of his most beautiful love songs, “Until the End of Time,” and we wish there was more room in the jam-packed set list for more ivory keys. He did play the keyboard later for “Senorita,” but it just didn’t have the same luxe, romantic appeal.
5. When he gave his Boston monologue
During part one of the evening, Timberlake paused (probably to let his dancers and band, The Tennessee Kids, get a drink) from playing, dancing, singing, etc., and gave a monologue a la “Saturday Night Live,” and it was all about Boston.
“It’s cold as f*** here,” he told the Garden crowd. “I’m sorry, but there’s really no other word to describe it … I woke up this morning and looked outside and saw sunshine and thought like Ice Cube, ‘today was a good day.’ And then I saw one snowflake, two snowflakes.”
And then came this gem.
“It’s like dangling sex in front of me. It’s like the sun’s outside, and then it’s like ‘no, I don’t feel like it.'”
He also touched on how Bostonians are his favorite people because they’re the best drinkers, and “on a more serious note,” brought up how touched he was to meet the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing when he was here in August 2013 with Jay Z.
Justin Timberlake delivers sexy soul, hot pop
Boston Herald — Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z’s 2013 summer stand at Fenway Park slayed me.
I thought it would be just pretty cool.
It was a revelation: icons sharing the stage for monster hits, fan favorites and surprises (grabbing a guitar with “Boston Strong” embroidered on the strap, Timberlake added the “Walk This Way” riff to Jay’s “99 Problems”).
Last night outshined the Fenway show.
On a victory lap, the best-selling artist of 2013 filled the TD Garden for a 2A hour party featuring the top pop of the new millennium — “Rock Your Body”, “Cry Me a River”, “SexyBack”, “My Love”, “Suit & Tie”, “Mirrors” and a score more made the setlist.
JT didn’t need the hits. OK, the cornerstones propped up the set and rippled the crowd with shrieks. But Timberlake’s swagger, style and skills twinkled as brightly as his smash singles as he played ringmaster to an epic visual and stunning sonic circus.
Let me break this down for you.
The band: If you’re going to borrow the swagger of Sinatra and the sexy soul of Marvin Gaye, your band better back you up. JT’s did. The Tennessee Kids featured four horns, four singers, two guitarists, two keyboards, two percussionists and one Funk Brothers-inspired bassist.
The stage: The video wall and massive stage, complete with detachable catwalk that rolled 20-feet above the length of the floor carrying Justin and half the cast, managed to be simple. Somehow the multi-million-dollar production managed to reinforce the minimalist, Tom Ford-tailored aesthetic.
The dancing: Timberlake’s greatest achievement may be a triangulation of Cary Grant’s grace, James Brown’s old-soul showmanship and Michael Jackson’s radical modernism. His footwork impressed me more than the floating stage.
The city: The main man returned to the Boston Strong theme a few times but he also sympathized with our lesser troubles — “It’s (expletive) cold here”, he quipped. And, in a nice nod to his history and ours, he turned “Murder” into a medley featuring “Jungle Boogie” and Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” (I can still hear it: “Girl, I, must warrrrrn yooooooooou …”).
Put together, the night delievered the best pop show I’ve seen since … well, maybe ever.