Timberlake gives good, clean show in Albany
The Daily Gazette — By the time Justin Timberlake’s shadow loomed giant-sized over the Times Union Center stage, the pandemonium was deafening.
The tension from months of waiting and the high costs of tickets uncorked itself as high-pitched teenage shrills that drowned out his opening falsetto vocals for “Pusher Love Girl”.
Then the stage floor opened, and up rose the 15-piece group, which included percussion, horns, singers and dancers.
Timberlake delivered a fast-paced, high-energy show of nonstop dancing and singing against a backdrop of incessant video — mostly animated and enormous — and staccato lights. The largerthan-life, often exaggerated production turned out to be good, clean entertainment.
During “Future Sex Love Sound”, the crowd got the first taste of his slick movements, he and his dancers sliding across the stage together through countless moves. “My Love”and “TKO” called on some vocals, but for the most part he talked and rapped his way through songs without any break in the dancing, running and shuffling. A minor thrust forward of his hip during “Love Stoned” sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Early in the show, he stood at the extended edge of the stage with hands in pockets, turning slowly to each side of the packed arena, assessing the situation, bowing, holding his heart and getting the same from his fans. He tried to talk several times before the cheering silenced him. Unfortunately, his message turned out to be “Albany, let’s party”, which he repeated pretty much during and between every song.
The stage descended, taking the band with it and leaving Timberlake alone with a white grand piano. The cellphones came out, lighting up the arena while Timberlake sang “Until the End of Time”.
After “Cry Me a River” and a 10-minute break, he came out with an acoustic guitar, the house lights came up and he talked a bit more about drinking and partying, adding that the last time he played Albany was 2003. He followed with “Drink You Away”, one of the most audible and melodic tunes of the night. He showed his voice was capable — even strong — on this one.
The stage swallowed the band again — they were invisible but audible, leaving Timberlake to sing the fast-paced electronica-heavy “Tunnel Vision”.
During the back end of the night, a walkway that spanned the width of the sold-out floor moved from the stage to the back of the arena, carrying Timberlake and four vocalists. The skywalk hovered above the audience on the floor while they performed.
He then came down a long flight of steps to a tiny stage in the middle of the floor, where he shook hands, then sang and danced to “Heartbreak Hotel”. While this was the most fun of the night, he was surprisingly weak in singing. No matter, the audience happily screamed through it.
And, of course, “Suit and Tie” and “Mirrors” to close the night.
Timberlake is all business out there. He knows all eyes are on him, and his presence is captivating. Every move counts — including his occasional moments of no movement — and he knows this. He takes himself seriously up there and comes off as endearing while doing it.
The show moved fast, the songs came quick and often followed without gaps. The lights and dancers never stopped, a perfect show for audiences with short attention spans and busy with their phones.
Timberlake’s groove moves adoring fans
Times Union — The first time that Justin Timberlake graced an Albany stage, he was the 17-year-old heartthrob of boy band ‘N Sync, playing to a sold-out Sunday matinee crowd at the Palace Theatre and eliciting Beatlemania-like screams from his adoring teen-and-tween fans.
Now 33 years old, Timberlake returned to town Wednesday night for another sold-out show — this time at the Times Union Center — and he didn’t have to share the spotlight with anyone. His fans have grown up with him, and they brought their daughters to the arena with them. And the screams, it seemed, were just as loud as ever.
Timberlake has a natural charisma, and he used it to his advantage at every turn. After the rousing opening volley of “Pusher Love Girl”, he stood in the spotlight with his hands in his pockets and an aw-shucks expression on his face as he soaked up the thunderous applause for a couple of minutes before finally asking the crowd, “Y’all came to party tonight?”
No doubt about it, the party was in full swing, and Timberlake’s massive arena show was a true spectacle to behold. Dubbing the show “JT & the Tennessee Kids”, the Memphis native took the stage bolstered by an army of 11 musicians, four singers and a half-dozen dancers. The first set flew by, highlighted by some seriously fancy footwork during “My Love”, an a cappella section during “Summer Love”, a percolating, bongo-fueled “TKO”, a snippet of “Holy Grail” and some serious falsetto singing during the kiss-off anthem, “Cry Me a River”. But the highlight was undoubtedly “Until the End of Time”, featuring Timberlake at the white grand piano while the entire arena lit up with cellphones like stars in a clear summer night sky.
After a short intermission, JT & Co. came roaring back. He strapped on an acoustic guitar for the blues-tinged “Drink You Away”. During “Let the Groove In”, the front half of the stage raised up and traversed the length of the arena over the heads of the fans. Eventually he landed in the VIP section and glad-handed the big spenders. He stepped out on the mini-stage at the back of the arena, offered a toast and dove into a couple of tributes — Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” and Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”.
Justin Timberlake just may be the most complete all-around entertainer of the day, and it will be mighty interesting to see what upcoming TU Center shows by Bruno Mars (on Sunday) and even Cher (in September) can do to try to top him.