Abu Dhabi is treated to the Justin Timberlake experience
The National — Abu Dhabi shares a special connection with Justin Timberlake. At a time when the capital was bereft of pop concerts, Timberlake was one of the first international music superstars to tour Abu Dhabi in 2007. With fans packing the Emirates Palace gardens for that performance, the capital announced itself as not merely a viable destination for modern pop tours but a trusty stop in Timberlake’s latest jaunt.
The 33-year-old spoke about that first tour in his comeback show at the du Arena on Friday night.
“I see some familiar faces”, joked Timberlake, who — given the night’s high humidity — jettisoned the Tom Ford suits for a black emblazoned shirt and baggy shorts. “I am a little older though”.
Indeed, things have changed since Timberlake’s last performance. Where his 2007 tour saw him going from teenage heart-throb to contemporary artist, the Timberlake that emerged on Friday’s show is comfortable in his present status as the world’s leading pop star.
Much of that acclaim lies in the release of last year’s opus, the double album The 20/20 Experience. While 2006’s FutureSex/LoveSounds was about the dark side of love, The 20/20 Experience is a brighter, more experimental, affair, focusing on the redemptive nature of relationships.
The theme was echoed in the show’s visuals: nearly all were abstract representations of coupledom, from interlocking chains to moody and intimate lights.
The album’s ultra-dense sounds needed an intense effort to replicate live. Fortunately, a star like Timberlake can afford a mini-orchestra of a backing band — The Tennessee Kids — with more than a dozen members, including four vocalists and a three-piece horn section.
Descending the stairs to almost combustible shrieks from the crowd, Timberlake and band launched into the opener Pusher Love Girl. It was a brave move — the track is almost fully sung in a deft falsetto and Timberlake pulled it off with aplomb.
The Tennessee Kids also didn’t mess around: the burbling keys mixed with the rising horns created some seriously lush soundscapes.
The follow up Rock Your Body introduced the six backing dancers. Those choreographed sets with Timberlake proved the singer didn’t ditch the dance classes post ‘N Sync.
The pensive FutureSex/LoveSound had Timberlake’s breathy croon hovering over a stalking beat that sounded like a dystopian version of Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust.
Truly warmed up, the crowd made their view felt in Timberlake’s first solo hit Like I Love You. The combination of stuttering guitars and funky drums had the audience jumping along, eliciting a big grin from the star.
The glaring 20/20 Experience misfire TKO received a welcome rebooting, with the synths souped up and a stronger vocal arrangement.
Unfortunately, the energy drastically dropped in the second half. While the first was dark and electrifying — courtesy of the futuristic-sounding new material — what followed was alarmingly fluffy, with classic covers and heavy on choreographed dances. It was like going back in a time warp to the 2003 Justified tour, where a young Timberlake was trying to make his mark on the live circuit.
There were fillers, such as covers of Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel and the Michael Jackson tribute of Human Nature and The Jacksons’s Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground). All were done adeptly, but it really took the wind out the sails of what was until then a brilliantly paced show.
The energy picked up when the new material returned: the show ended with the killer trio of Suit & Tie, the boisterous horn-filled SexyBack and the anthemic Mirrors, which came with U2-style chiming guitars.
A proven risk-taker, it’s tantalising to speculate on Timberlake’s next musical move. Hopefully we don’t have to wait another seven years to see it on stage.
Justin Timberlake wows 20,000-strong crowd at Abu Dhabi’s du Arena
The National — ABU DHABI // After hosting the world’s biggest rock band, The Rolling Stones, in February, on Friday night it was time for the globe’s biggest pop star to entertain the crowds at du Arena in the capital with a rousing show.
More than 20,000 fans packed into the Yas Island venue for the return of Justin Timberlake and his eye-popping 20/20 Experience World Tour.
Kicking off just after 9pm, the show began with the star descending a staircase, to the sound of shrieks from the crowd. His large backing band, The Tennessee Kids, boasted more than a dozen members, including four backing vocalists and a horn section.
Dressed in black shirt and baggy shorts, courtesy of tour costume designer Tom Ford, Timberlake thrust himself on to the stage and delved into the sensual opener, Pusher Love Girl.
The American star then returned to his acclaimed 2002 debut solo album, Justified, and its hit single, Rock Your Body.
Joined by six dancers, he twirled and sashayed across the stage, recalling his glory days as a member of the boyband ‘N Sync.
Clapping along with the crowd, he promised the du Arena that “he was here to party”. That was music to the ears of the throngs of excited fans who had flocked to Yas Island for the show, his second in the capital after performing at the Emirates Palace in 2007.
Huge queues had formed before the gates opened at the venue, with crowds cheering when they were finally unlocked at 7pm.
“I’ve liked Justin Timberlake since I was about 14, I think”, said Shashank Sridharan, 22, from India. “His music is great — he’s got great music sense.
“More than that, I also respect him because he is a bit of an entrepreneur. I think it’ll be a great show”.
“I was so excited to see him”, said 13-year-old Abu Dhabi resident Melis, from Turkey. “I’ve liked him for five years. His songs are amazing. I really love them. This is the first time I’ve seen him.
“I have not heard his new songs, but the old ones are amazing”.
It was no surprise that Timberlake particularly popular with the ladies in the crowd.
“We are all so excited and we have been waiting for him since the beginning of the year”, said Sara, a 17-year-old Emirati.
Asked what she likes the most about JT, she replied: “His sexy back, of course”.
“I love him, he’s so cool”, said Basma Taher, 16, from Lebanon, who travelled to the capital from Dubai for the concert.
“I can’t believe I am seeing him, I have always wanted to see him. I want him to play Cry Me A River. It’s my favourite song of all time.
“Du Arena is amazing for this. There are so many people, it’s great. A lot of my friends are jealous because they couldn’t come”.
Last night’s show was the 69th date on Timberlake’s mammoth world tour, which will include 120 concerts in total.
It kicked off in New York in November, before heading to Europe. The Abu Dhabi gig was his only date in the Middle East.
Timberlake’s smooth Abu Dhabi comeback
Gulf News —
As many people must have walked away from Justin Timberlake’s Friday night show in Abu Dhabi YouTub-ing old-school Michael Jackson tracks as there were reliving Timberlake’s own tracks.
Apart from the fact that he covered the late King of Pop’s tracks, there was a definite feel we were watching a performer cast in Jackson’s own image — from the moonwalk he performed to the falsetto vocals and the funk-pop danceability of it all.
That’s not to say that Timberlake is not his own performer. His sexy-meets-cheeky personality shone through at all times, from his own smooth dance moves to winking at the girls in the front row to his you-said-it-buddy statement six songs into the 20-song set: “Let me just get this out the way. It is really [expletive] hot. We can’t turn the air conditioning on in here?”
The night was hot, in every sense. The packed du Arena had us sweating buckets before the dancing even started, and yet if JT and his Tennessee Kids were going to sing and dance to absolute perfection for two hours, then the crowd was happy to cheer every moment of it.
The set list was somewhat pared down from what’s been seen on his tour elsewhere, notching up 20 tracks that focused on the hit singles; we also sadly didn’t get to see Timberlake in his Tom Ford suit, although I imagine the weather conditions may have had something to do with that. He stayed in a lightning-print t-shirt and long shorts (over some unusual leggings) for the whole night, paired with bright red Nike high-tops — all the better to keep track of his incredible dancing feet.
Those dance moves were best highlighted in the first, highly-choreographed third of the show, which opened with Pusher Love Girl, from his latest album, 20/20 Experience, then giving us a taste of his two previous albums with Rock Your Body, from Justified, and Lovestoned, from FutureSex/LoveSounds.
Thanks to the Tennessee Kids — his brilliant, fun, backing band, singers and dancers — what are great records were transformed into great live tracks, tweaked with plenty of rock guitar solos. It’s something those of us lucky enough to have seen him in 2007 on his Abu Dhabi debut (at Emirates Palace) experienced, and it’s a brilliant treatment of his songs for a live audience. Timberlake recalled that concert, telling us he had found out moments before taking the stage that his Emirates Palace show was the first major international concert in the capital. “We are very excited to be back in the UAE. I see some familiar faces. You all look a bit older — in a good way.
Crowd interaction was a frequent occurrence, most naturally during the boy/girl sing-along that’s built into Senorita; there were many moments when he asked the crowd to sing for him, some more successful than others (the intro to Summer Love, one of my favourite songs, was so different that I didn’t immediately recognise it and failed to sing along. Timberlake’s face was a priceless picture of fake disappointment).
However, the crowd was more than happy to help him out on a cover of Jackson’s Human Nature, which merged into What Goes Around… Comes Around, and re-emerged on the other side of the mega-hit. Timberlake also paid tribute to his fellow Memphis star, Elvis Presley, with an acoustic-guitar rendition of Heartbreak Hotel.
It took Timberlake seven years to return to the UAE (granted, he was on a music hiatus for much of that time). Let’s hope it doesn’t take as long for him to come back once more.
Justin Timberlake Brings Sexy Back To Abu Dhabi
Inquisitr — The Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi, welcomed Justin Timberlake back after 7 long years.
Friday night, on the 69th date of his 20/20 Experience World Tour, Justin Timberlake faced a 20,000 fan packed Yas Island venue, du Arena. The show started at 9pm, but throngs of fans were lined up throughout the day. When the doors finally opened at 7pm, they did so to the tune of cheering concert-goers.
Timberlake began the show by descending a staircase dressed in a lightning-print shirt and long shorts over a strange pair of leggings and bright red Nike high-tops. It was a change from his usual wear for the tour, designed by Tom Ford. One could speculate that the severely hot weather could have led to the necessary wardrobe change.
Although Justin sang several of his own songs, both new and old, he also took time during the concert to pay tribute to the pop kings that came before him. Timberlake moonwalked as he performed some of Michael Jackson’s tracks. He also did an acoustic-guitar rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel”.
Justin Timberlake may have paid tribute to a couple of greats, but he had his own style while doing so. His back-up band, The Tennesse Kids, was huge. The band included of a dozen members including a horn section and four back-up singers.
“Joined by six dancers, he twirled and sashayed across the stage, recalling his glory days as a member of the boy-band ‘N Sync”, the UAE-based The National reported.
As he clapped along with the crowd he assured Abu Dhabi that, on his only Middle East stop, he was there to party.
At one point during the show, Justin reminisced about his first concert at the Emirates Palace in 2007.
“We are very excited to be back in the UAE. I see some familiar faces. You all look a bit older — in a good way. I’m old-er”, he said.
After the concert, some fans spoke to the media about their love for the pop star.
“I’ve liked Justin Timberlake since I was about 14, I think”, said Shashank Sridharan, 22, from India. “His music is great — he’s got great music sense”.
“I was so excited to see him”, said 13-year-old Melis, from Turkey. “I’ve liked him for five years. His songs are amazing. I really love them. This is the first time I’ve seen him. I have not heard his new songs, but the old ones are amazing”.
Timberlake isn’t the only big name to play Abu Dhabi this year. In February, The Rolling Stones played at the same venue and, in September, Lady Gaga will be there as well.
Justin Timberlake ‘takes back the night’ in Abu Dhabi show
Alarabiya — Wowing more than 20,000 fans, Justin Timberlake played a spectacular show in Abu Dhabi on Friday night.
Timberlake entertained the crowds in the Emirati capital as part of his 20/20 Experience World Tour.
The American star kicked off the show by descending a staircase to the sound of screaming fans and sang his opener, Pusher Love Girl.
Timberlake then returned to his acclaimed 2002 debut solo album, Justified, and its hit single, Rock Your Body.
“Joined by six dancers, he twirled and sashayed across the stage, recalling his glory days as a member of the boyband ‘N Sync”, the UAE-based The National reported.
Timberlake had previously performed in the capital in 2007. Abu Dhabi has previously hosted the world’s biggest rock band, The Rolling Stones, in February.
And among the global pop stars to play in the UAE, Lady Gaga has recently announced that she’s coming to Dubai in September, in what will be the controversial pop star’s first concert in the Arab world.
While excitement reigns for fans in the region, the announcement was stained with fears over the 28-year-old risqué singer’s upcoming performance. It was recently announced that her Dubai show would be censored.