Citi / AAdvantage & MasterCard presentaron “Priceless Access” con Justin Timberlake en exclusiva en una actuación en Manhattan Center Hammerstein Ballroom, Nueva York, el 10 de julio.
Justin Timberlake Made New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom Believe
CBS Local — Just about the last time we heard from Justin Timberlake was at the end of 2013 in GQ’s “Man of the Year” issue (as… “#Hashtag of the Year”), where he said that he felt like “a bunch of people just took a s–t on my face”. This was after Runner Runner, his film with Ben Affleck, tanked at the box office and The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2, his second album of the year, was rightly savaged by critics. America had begged Timberlake to come back, but we turned on him. The star, so used to being beloved, was spurned. Then he more or less disappeared.
Timberlake has been on tour since November 6 of last year. He took a few weeks off here and there, but otherwise he has been working maniacally. Of the past 192 days in 2014, Timberlake has played a show on 59 of them, and he has dates scheduled in every month through December. Part of this is pure capitalism, of course: every Timberlake show rakes in millions, and even his small show at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City last night was sponsored by no less than three major credit card companies (Citi/AAdvantage & MasterCard Priceless Access). But his 13-month long work schedule insulated him from a public backlash so painful that he took to the pages of GQ to tell us how much we had hurt his feelings. “None of your opinions count”, he said in GQ of the press’ vitriol. “And by the way, none of you can do it”.
Thankfully, inside the four walls of a venue, Timberlake can be everything he wants America to believe he is. For instance, on Thursday he entered the stage to a Frank Sinatra song and a man standing directly next to me turned to his friend and said “he is the Sinatra of our time”, which is a fable you only repeat after hearing it so many times that you think it must be true. But Timberlake can be the Sinatra of our time in front of his screeching fan base — I either heard him call his tuxedoed band the “Rat Pack”, or I hallucinated it. But if not, it was certainly implied.
Intimate performance in the middle of a huge sold-out arena
PopMatters — Justin Timberlake is in the middle of a huge sold-out arena tour yet he took the time to perform a more “intimate” show at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom for a corporate sponsor, Mastercard. Or it could have been American Airlines who had a larger promotional presence on site, but I don’t think I heard Timberlake give them props during his show. Just the credit card. In any case, the exclusivity made this the hot event of the night for New Yorkers even if it wasn’t the hot event of the week. There were several large concerts going on in the NYC area over several (other) nights including Katy Perry across the street at the Garden and Beyoncé and Jay-Z with two nights at the Meadowlands (Hova did not grace JT’s set unfortunately).
As could be expected from the multi-talented performer, Timberlake’s showmanship was top notch the entire night. With a large backing band, who also shared in some dancing duties, a huge laser and light show and his hat, the man dazzled the audience for a generous amount of time performing a multitude of hits and a couple of covers. One cover was a surprise, Ray LaMontagne’s “Jolene” but the other Sinatra’s “New York, New York” was less so since the pre-show music was Sinatra’s “My Way”.
Amidst the spectacle were some great songs but the show felt more like a party mix, though it did hold together well as the songs were reframed for a large band. I enjoyed many of the songs early in the set, particularly “LoveStoned”, I didn’t really need to hear “Jolene”. I had hoped to see how the band would handle the more challenging “Let the Groove Get in” but that wasn’t performed.
Timberlake occasionally chatted with a few folks in the front, one of whom confessed she slept on the street to ensure a spot in the front of the general admission floor. He also asked the crowd if they loved him and at one point a woman threw him her panties, so clearly at least she did.
It wasn’t until after the stirring “New York, New York” that JT hammered the show home with a killer finale. The groove took hold with the fresh and suave “Suit & Tie”, the still futuristic sounding “Sexyback” and the powerful sing-along “Mirrors”. Timberlake is certainly at the top of his game and this was a great conclusion to a fun pop performance that I admit had me singing along.
Justin Timberlake played Hammerstein Ballroom
Brooklyn Vegan — Justin Timberlake brought his massive ongoing tour in support of last year’s The 20/20 Experience back to NYC last night (7/10) for his sixth show here since its release. While the past five shows were all in stadiums and arenas, last night’s was at the significantly smaller Hammerstein Ballroom, making for a rare intimate show for the megastar. It was presented by MasterCard, and you needed a Citi / AAdvantage / MasterCard to get in.
Showing off his interest in classic pop, the show began with Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” playing through the PA, but once JT hit the stage the mood shifted into the dark distorted pop of “Only When I Walk Away” with a laser light show and a sorta-trippy image of Justin’s head blown up on the screen behind him. JT shifted moods like that plenty of other times throughout the night too which, with three very different albums, is inevitable but he and his ace 15-piece band actually made all those different sounds flow together really well. They segued the vocal intro of the spacey “Don’t Hold The Wall” into the dancefloor banger “FutureSex/LoveSound”. And right after that took the Spanish-sounding “Like I Love You” seamlessly into the jittery “My Love” interlude.
It wasn’t all masterful transitions like that though. It was a pop show, so JT of course did tons of crowd hyping like slowing “My Love” into a ballad and milking that a bit before bringing the beat back in. Or starting “Summer Love” with a choppy a cappella before getting the whole crowd screaming “and tell me how they got that pretty little face on that pretty little frame girl” and then bringing the band in.
No guests showed up (well except Joey Fatone dancing on stage for about a minute towards the end), but Justin did play his intro to Jay Z’s “Holy Grail”, and instead of going into Jay’s verse, took it directly into “Cry Me A River”. He ended up rapping part of Jay’s “Tom Ford” during “Cry Me A River”, and later did the same with “Fuckwithmeyouknowigotit” during “SexyBack”. He also honored Frank Sinatra once again later in the set with a cover of “New York, New York” (like he did at Yankee Stadium with Jay Z in 2013).
Setlist-wise, it would have been nice to actually hear some of the better deep cuts off The 20/20 Experience like the full “Don’t Hold the Wall” or “Strawberry Bubblegum” (which the DJ who opened played), especially in place of the country pop-leaning “Not A Bad Thing” or the acoustic Ray LaMontagne cover he played after it, which both seemed a little out of place and unnecessary. That aside, when JT and the band were on, they were on, and it was a really fun show.
Justin Timberlake’s Intimate NYC Show: 5 Things We Learned
Rolling Stone — “Is it as hot out there as it is up here?” asked Justin Timberlake at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom Thursday night. “I’m getting too old for this shit. I don’t get to play these types of shows often”.
See Justin Timberlake’s RS Covers
The “type of show” in question most likely referenced the intimacy of the 2,200-person venue rather than the corporate sponsorship of an event subtitled “Citi/AAdvantage & MasterCard Priceless Access”. Still, the two-hour, 20-song set was the opposite of many performers’ phoned-in corporate gigs, as Timberlake, more accustomed to stadiums that ballrooms, took full advantage of the smaller confines. Upon seeing a girl with a sign noting how long she waited to get tickets to the show, the singer playfully asked, “You slept on the street to get in the front row? What is wrong with you?”
Backed, as usual, by his 10-piece band, the Tennessee Kids, Timberlake performed a career-spanning set, playing guitar, piano and keyboard and throwing in enough structural changes to satiate fans familiar with his relatively small discography. The jittery synths and warped percussion of the Timbaland-produced “My Love” became a jazzy torch song, while Jay Z’s “Holy Grail” found the band moving to the foreground, turning the track into a hard rock song — or as close to hard rock as Justin Timberlake will get. “What Goes Around… Comes Around” opened with just Timberlake on acoustic guitar, while “Until the End of Time” was turned into a piano ballad, the multi-instrumentalist telling the crowd: “If you came single to the show tonight, look around. I can’t think of a better time than now”.
As corporate gigs go, though, there was even a touch of subversion. Timberlake’s not beating Ozzy for stories (publicly at least), but the lines “I smelled drugs earlier; I wonder where they came from” and “I think I have a contact high from somebody smoking weed in the crowd” probably weren’t in the Citi/AA/MasterCard marketing plan. Here are five things we learned from JT’s intimate show.
1. His ‘N Sync Love Still Runs Deep
Former ‘N Sync singer Joey Fatone occupied a box seat throughout the show, dancing and nodding his head to many of his former bandmate’s tracks. During “Suit and Tie”, Fatone hopped on stage, eschewing the microphone to dance among Timberlake’s band. “Give it up for the fat one!”, joked Timberlake. We’re still waiting to see that group text, though, guys.
2. He’s Either the Shrewdest Corporate Shill or Most Clever Marketer in Music
The concert was co-sponsored by MasterCard, who encouraged fans to tweet pictures of themselves at the show with a specially-created hashtag. Between “TKO” and “Summer Love”, one fan threw a pair of panties on stage, nearly hitting the singer. “This is a MasterCard-sponsored event”, Timberlake told the crowd. “And this will not get you any more priceless points”.
3. He’s Not Afraid to Cover Obscure Songs
“I’m going to do something unorthodox”, Timberlake told the crowd toward the end of the set. “Chances are you don’t know this one”. He was right on both accounts. With only an acoustic guitar, the singer launched into a cover of Ray LaMontagne’s “Jolene”, a song from the singer-songwriter’s 2004 debut album Trouble. Singing to a celebratory crowd about finding yourself “face down in the ditch/booze on my hair/blood on my lips” was a ballsy, if not particularly well received, move. This was a crowd that didn’t want to buy a “hard pack of cigarettes in the early morning rain”, as LaMontagne’s protagonist does, but the song showcased Timberlake’s versatility past the set’s mostly uptempo tracks.
4. His Show’s Hip-Hop Influence Is Getting Stronger
During his Legends of the Summer tour with Jay Z, Timberlake played the role of Jay’s racist cop from “99 Problems”, sang the hook from Juicy J’s “Bandz a Make Her Dance” and had his band break into four bars of Kanye West’s “New Slaves” during “Cry Me a River”. Last night, “Cry Me a River” featured the bridge from Jay’s “Tom Ford”, and “SexyBack” included a few lines from “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt”. Later, Timberlake pulled from Rock Master Scott and the Dynamic Three’s 1984 classic “The Roof Is on Fire” to further inflame the crowd.
5. He Loves Frank Sinatra
At Yankee Stadium for Legends of the Summer, Timberlake broke into a cover of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” right before the duo performed “Empire State of Mind”. It was all Timberlake, but it also felt like a nod to Jay Z’s umpteenth attempt to remind you he’s become the Jersey crooner’s rightful heir. Timberlake repeated the cover last night, leading the crowd in a big band-inspired singalong that united teenagers with the olds, a category that here included everyone over 30. This wasn’t the first Chairman of the Board reference of the night: Right before the show, Sinatra’s “My Way” pumped out of the speakers.
Justin Timberlake not interested in you throwing your underwear at him
Vice — Confession: Until this morning, I hadn’t listened to a lick of Justin Timberlake’s newest album. This is not because I’m not a fan, or I’m uninterested in Justin Timblerlake’s music. Instead, it’s that I take Justin Timberlake for granted—his music has always been there, like a book you can read over and over again, its meaning changing as you get older. He has been so talented and so famous for so long, it’s hard to think of him as truly human. So last night, watching him perform at the 2,200 person Hammerstein Ballroom—surely one of the smallest rooms he’s played in his career—it was shocking to see him good-naturedly reveal some humanity.
If you have never seen Justin Timberlake live, you should, and if you have, you already know how great he is. He’s an entertainer in the truest sense—he sings and dances with the flair of a showman, he plays guitar and piano with ease, and has a full band, the Tennessee Kids, backing him up. He is so talented and his music is so good that he’s basically an angel, a perfect, once-in-a-generation polymath gifted to humanity. He makes every song enthralling, whether you know the words or not, darting around the stage with the agility of a wood nymph, singing with such enthusiasm that you get the sense that there’s nothing he’d rather be doing than performing. This is also why Justin Timberlake is sort of terrifying.
In an age of oversharing pop stars whose tabloid narratives play into the public’s perception of their music (Robin Thicke, I’m looking at you, buddy), Justin Timberlake is a throwback to an era where our stars did their jobs, did them well, and went home without their fans knowing anything about their lives. This is probably because Timberlake values his privacy, but it creates a certain paradigm, where we can only imagine him in one specific context. He is the perfect entertainer, the Frank Sinatra of our generation: cool, but blandly so; so undeniably skilled at creating something that sounds like the definition of “good music” to as many people as humanly possible. Justin Timberlake is the word “slick” personified, the sonic equivalent of a 34-year-old hitting on mid-level marketing manager in a bar by buying her a shot of Patron on ice without asking whether she wants it or not, while yakking about his new BMW 3-series and letting the light shine just so on his brand-new trilby. He always hits the note and never misses a step—it’s like he’s so good at music that he emits a palpable sense of imbalance, like he’s not equipped to deal with the fullness of the human experience. You get the sense that if he were handed a baby, it would immediately start crying.
Because of this, the most delightful parts of his excessively delightful performance found him interrupting the simultaneous hysteria and hypnosis his talents had placed the audience under and making things a little loose. He’d punctuate his hits with adlibs for no reason, slipping, “These hoes ain’t loyal!” into the bridge of “What Goes Around” with the enthusiastic melisma of a mid-season American Idol contestant. He’s give rambly, clearly-unrehearsed speeches: about what a good time he and the Tennessee Kids were having, about how he wished he could be smoking weed with the audience, about how the woman who’d thrown her underwear at him wouldn’t be able to get additional MasterCard Priceless Points for her efforts (the event was sponsored by the credit card company as well as American Airlines). Upon several occasions, he invoked the Migos flow, transforming his lyrics into tightly-wound triplicates just because he could. Nearly three-quarters of the way through the show, he stopped his own momentum dead in its tracks, whipping out a guitar and performing Ray Lamontagne’s “Jolene”, which kicks off with the line, “Cocaine flame in my bloodstream”, a risqué move even for a now-33-year-old Timberlake.
Watching Timberlake take to the stage like a kid on a playground reminded me that he’s someone we’ve grown up with. Unlike many, JT has largely managed to avoid the pitfalls that often beset child stars. He never went off the rails, never had a drug freakout, never canceled a tour due to “exhaustion”. And while some might quibble about the quality of his music as he’s aged, it’s impossible to argue that his work hasn’t become more complex and mature as his career’s progressed. The worst that’s happened to him is he copped to being a bit of a stoner, he wore a denim suit one time, and he probably should have realized the anti-crack anthem “Losing My Way” was well-intentioned but extremely silly. Besides that, he’s got a pretty clean slate, both musically and personally. More than anything, he’s just there. Good enough for everyone to like him, cool enough not to be annoying, but not so cool he might alienate anyone. He will always be there, and much like Justin himself, that’s so good it’s scary.