Justin Timberlake delivers a TKO
World-Herald — Justin Timberlake is the ultimate showman.
He’s part Frank Sinatra and part Jay Z — smooth and classy without being afraid to get down and dirty.
And his whole show feels like one big party with the coolest host on the planet.
Timberlake’s sold-out concert Monday night at CenturyLink Center Omaha was a combination of classy, contemporary cabaret music for the suit-and-tie set and club tunes best enjoyed on a sparsely lit dance floor.
Over a two-and-a-half-hour show, which featured a short intermission, Timberlake was the leader of a huge production that involved 22 talented people on the stage and hundreds of moving parts, lights and video screens, and he made the whole thing feel more like a spontaneous party than an elaborate theatrical production.
“Cry Me a River” may be the best example of his handiwork. It’s one of Timberlake’s best known songs, so it seems hard to do something new with it. Timberlake added in his 15-member, super-tight Tennessee Kids band, six dancers and a stage lit up like a Las Vegas casino to make for an unforgettable concert moment.
Timberlake took the stage in a navy coat, black bow tie and slicked-back hair, and he kicked off the show with “Pusher Love Girl” from his latest album, “The 20/20 Experience”. He followed with “Rock Your Body” while backed by a dance crew that had trouble keeping up with the boss.
Dance songs such as “FutureSex/LoveSound” were followed by funky grooves such as “Like I Love You”, and rocking numbers like “Drink You Away” were up next.
Timberlake had fun with a cover of Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison” and an acoustic version of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel”.
It was a big event for Timberlake’s 15,000 gathered fans. Morgan Young made a night out of it with her mom and a friend.
Young, 22, her mom, Stacy Taylor, 45, and their friend, Caitlin Roussan, 22, made Monday’s concert into an all-night event, beginning with dinner and drinks and ending with T-shirts and the show. The trio drove from Lincoln to see Timberlake, whom they’d watched since he was on “The New Mickey Mouse Club”. Every time Timberlake is on “Saturday Night Live, Young and Taylor consider it a big event.
What were they most excited about?
“Him. Everything about him”, Young said before the show. “He’s hot”.
“His dancing”, Roussan added.
“I’m excited to see a performer — a singer, dancer who’s gonna put on a great show”, Taylor said.
They got a performer.
Throughout the show, Timberlake showed off his enviable talent by floating across the stage, finger-picking a guitar, singing that falsetto of his, cracking jokes between songs and playing both organ and piano. Is there anything the guy isn’t ridiculously good at?
He did it all despite being ill, to which he attributed to the show’s slightly late start.
“I was coughing, sneezing and I threw out my neck”, he said. “I’m 33 now, so that kinda (stuff) happens”.
It didn’t show. He still moved like he was a professional dancer, even when on a walkway that was moving across the arena. (That stage, which floated over the audience to the rear of the arena, was one of the coolest bits of production I’ve ever seen.)
He shook hands with fans, complimented their T-shirts and their slick suits, wished one woman a happy birthday and even shared a drink with them.
“It may be cold outside, but it’s on fire in here tonight”, he said.
Timberlake’s final moments on stage were his best. He saved “Suit & Tie”, the tune that made the bandstand and bow ties feel most appropriate, for the end of his set.
Then he came back for an encore that featured his ultimate pop dance song, “SexyBack”, and one of the most well-crafted pop tunes in recent memory, “Mirrors”.
Though fans screamed till their throats were sore and sang to most every song, “Mirrors” was such a hit that Timberlake put his microphone on the floor and let the crowd sing the refrain for him.
Those final two songs — one that saw JT popping and locking with his dancers while the crowd followed suit and another that had him hitting the high notes and directing the crowd through the pop ballad — made for a perfect picture of the concert.
- “Pusher Love Girl”
- “Rock Your Body”
- “Don’t Hold the Wall”
- “Like I Love You”
- Medley: “Let Me Talk to You”/“My Love”
- “Summer Love”
- “Until the End of Time”/“I Think She Knows Interlude”
- “Holy Grail” (intro)
- “Cry Me a River”
- “Only When I Walk Away”
- “Drink You Away”
- “Tunnel Vision”
- “Let the Groove Get In”
- “That Girl”
- “Heartbreak Hotel” (Elvis Presley cover)
- “Not a Bad Thing”
- “Human Nature” (Michael Jackson cover)
- “What Goes Around… Comes Around”
- “Take Back the Night”
- Medley: “Jungle Boogie” (Kool & The Gang cover)/“Murder”
- “Poison” (Bell Biv DeVoe cover)
- “Suit & Tie”