A difference between a “rock star” and a “superstar”
Metro Phoenix — There is a difference between a “rock star” and a “superstar”, and Justin Timberlake is a superstar. He’d been a rock star since his years with ‘N Sync touring the world and selling millions of albums. But now, in his early 30s, with decades experience performing his own catalog of self-written hit songs, and the swagger that goes along with all that, he is quite obviously in his prime.
The second stop of his 20/20 Experience World Tour went through Glendale’s Jobing.com Arena on Saturday night, and he demonstrated what a superstar in their prime is capable of by putting on two-hour musical spectacular complete with choreographed dance numbers, lasers, and a 15-piece band, The Tennessee Kids. He also showed that being a superstar in 2014 is hard work.
It was the second time in less than a year he brought this particular show through Phoenix, and though I didn’t see the first one, I can’t imagine it had anymore zeal than this one. The guy is just a fabulous showman.
Way back in the day Frank Sinatra got on stage half-drunk, sang some songs, made some jokes, and went back to the casino. But now to be a bonafide superstar you’ve got to sing, dance, play the piano and guitar, tell jokes, make magic happen, and apparently never sweat while doing it. Seriously, the guy’s brow was as dry as the desert during the entire concert.
Sometimes, the difference between a rock star and a superstar can be quite subtle, little mannerisms that really have more to do with a performer’s comfort level on stage than anything else. In the case of Justin Timberlake, he is on a whole different wavelength than your average rock star.
Rock stars go into the crowd to let the “babes” get a chance to cop a feel, superstars let the 40-year-old man in section 105 grab hold for about eight seconds, three different times (definite shout out to that guy). Rock stars go home with “hot chicks”, while superstars marry everyone’s dream girl. J.T. married Jessica Biel in 2012. For rock stars it’s always about the cool factor and sending people home feeling like they were in the presence of something cool. For superstars, it is about the connection and sending people home feeling like they were a part of something spectacular. J.T. and The Tennessee Kids definitely created the latter sort of experience.
Of course, creating that experience becomes a little easier when a musician can afford giant rolling runways to carry them to the back of the arena, and said runway is also high enough that they can say hello to the audience members in the 200 level seats. But astonishing stage show aside, the guy has charisma.
As spectacular as his singing and dancing is, and he is seriously the best dancer I’ve ever scene in person. What separates him is the way he interacts with the audience. He definitely brought out some of the old cliches like shouting the name of the city and state a bunch of times, a “go shawty it’s your birthday”, and the ever more popular “turn up”.
But he also stopped and had a short conversation with a group of young girls ranging from the ages of eight to 12, took an “selfie” with an audience members phone, jokingly told a male fan who complimented his looks to “go to the preseason game right now”, and just generally addressed the crowd more as friends than as an audience. He even had a waiter in the VIP section bring him a shot so he could share a toast with the entire room.
He sang his hit, he sang snippets of some covers like “Jungle Boogie”, “Holy Grail”, “Poison”, and “Human Nature”, he even sang all of “Heartbreak Hotel”, while playing acoustic guitar.
Pusher Love Girl
Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want)
Rock Your Body
Don’t Hold the Wall
Like I Love You
Until the End of Time
Cry Me a River
Only When I Walk Away
Drink You Away
Let the Groove Get In
Not a Bad Thing
What Goes Around… Comes Around
Take Back the Night
Suit & Tie
Justin Timberlake gives Glendale ‘The 20/20 Experience’
AZCentral — Justin Timberlake was six songs deep into his second Valley appearance in less than a year in support of the two-record pop-culture triumph that was “The 20/20 Experience”, having just brought his unerring falsetto to bear on a very funky “TKO”, when he addressed the circumstances that brought him to Jobing.com Arena in Glendale on Saturday, Aug. 9.
“We are Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids”, he said. “And we love you so much we had to come back”.
Then he turned his attentions to the guys in the audience who were missing the Cardinals game that made the traffic getting to his concert such a nightmare.
“I know there’s a Cardinals game”, he said. “I appreciate that”.
He would have chosen the game himself, he admitted before suggesting that maybe a night at the Timberlake concert was a smarter way to play the game.
“You know what you’re doing? Laying the groundwork”.
The set was remarkably similar to his US Airways Center concert in December — nearly all the same songs performed in the same order using the same staging. Even the covers were the same.
It’s a tribute to Timberlake’s showmanship and talent, then — not to mention the strength of the songs and the musical prowess of the other players on that stage — that Saturday’s performance was as entertaining as the one at US Airways Center if you saw them both.
He hit the stage to the unmistakable opening strains of “Pusher Love Girl”, which also opens the first of the two “20/20 Experience” albums, basking in the fans’ applause before delivering the first verse a cappella, punctuated by horns. The man’s falsetto is a force of nature — one that never let up in the course of a two-and-a-half-hour showcase of the Timberlake experience. Backed by 11 musicians, including a well-used four-man horn section, his vocals fleshed out by four backup singers, he let that sweet falsetto have its way with the melody in an epic performance of the strongest track on the whole “20/20 Experience”.
The singer wasn’t shy about sharing the musical highlights of those albums, including such obvious choices as the double-platinum “Suit & Tie”, which did not make you miss the Jay-Z rap, and “Mirrors”. But he also repped the catalog for all it was worth — which you don’t necessarily have to be a CPA to know is somewhere in the millions. Having set the tone so squarely in the here and now with “Pusher Love Girl”, Timberlake reached back to 2002 for the slinky funk of “Rock Your Body”, a Top 10 hit from “Justified”, his first solo release, as his backing musicians rose up from beneath the stage and the audience joined in on handclaps. That’s when his crew of six dancers emerged to join him in some slickly choreographed dancing of the sort the the man was doing in his teens and early 20s with ‘N Sync, only smoother now that he’s had practice (in not only dancing but fashion).
There was no shortage of synchronized dancing in the course of Timberlake’s performance. But the dance moves fit the more sophisticated, grown-up presentation just as well as he made his way through such obvious highlights of the first half as the bass-driven funk of “FutureSex/LoveSound”, the synchronized dancing of “Like I Love You”, the soulful cocktail jazz of “My Love”, “TKO and ““Summer Love”. The heavy funk groove of “LoveStoned” brought some of the loosest dance moves of the first set as Timberlake encouraged, “Phoenix, shake yo ass”. Then, he sat at a white baby grand for a soulful “Until the End of Time” before bringing the first half of the concert to an overheated climax with “Cry Me a River”, which sounded amazing, complete with squealing lead guitar and an almost heavy-metal level of intensity.
The second half got off to a dramatic start with a laser light show, Timberlake performing “Only When I Walk Away” on a darkened stage while a large projection of his head mouthed the words on the giant backdrop.
Then, after strapping on an acoustic guitar, he addressed a group of pre-teens in the front row.
“Every curse word I said, you can’t say that, OK?”, he instructed the kids.
Then, with an impish grin, he added, “I don’t need you saying that s–t”.
As the monologue continued, he playfully lectured the kids on the dangers of drinking.
“You’ll see in about an hour”, he joked. “Watch what it does to these people”.
It proved a perfect setup for “Drink You Away”, a tortured, bluesy drinking-man’s lament introduced as “a song I specifically wrote about alcohol”.
The singer screened his controversial T&A video for “Tunnel Vision”, which sounded even hotter than the video. A rousing “Senorita” found Timberlake rocking the keys with abandon before assigning the men and women in the audience their parts to sing.
As the groove to “Let the Groove Get In” kicked in, the star and several backup singers rode a huge hydraulic catwalk to the back of the arena, stopping at several points along the way to play to different sections. He interacted with fans in the nightclub area set up at the back of the arena, where someone named Tatum was celebrating her 40th birthday. Then, he strapped on an acoustic and shook his pelvis accordingly as he swaggered his way through a perfectly credible if not career-defining rendition “Heartbreak Hotel”, after which he said, “Two fingers in the air tonight for Elvis Presley, the king of rock and roll”. He continued to strum the acoustic on his recent platinum single, “Not a Bad Thing”, and led a heartfelt singalong of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”, after which he said, “Two finger in the air tonight for Michael Jackson”, but did not say “the king of pop”. Timberlake fingerpicked the acoustic while singing a soulful rendition of “What Goes Around … Comes Around”. Then, he and his dancers rode the catwalk back up to the stage to the tune of a transcendent horn-driven “Take Back the Night”, which should have been a bigger single than it was.
They were back on the main stage by the time they effortlessly segued from the “And the horns say”… break in “Take Back the Night” to a spirited romp through “Jungle Boogie” by Kool & the Gang with Timberlake chanting “The Roof is on Fire”. He did some rapping on “Murder”, an album track from “2 of 2”, which segued nicely into yet another cover — a rousing performance of “Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe.
And that still left three massive hits with which to end the concert on a note of triumph — “Suit & Tie”, “SexyBack” and a transcendent “Mirrors”.
It was a flawless performance from a former teen idol who, at 33, continues to prove that the transition from “Tiger Beat” pinups to culturally relevant music that speaks to all ages can be managed. And he didn’t even have to reach into the ‘N Sync catalog to keep them coming back for more.
Timberlake keeps fans on their feet with diverse performance
East Valley Tribune — If you haven’t been to a Justin Timberlake concert, warning: Nobody sits down! The 33-year-old really is a triple threat. He can sing, dance and act, and he brings it all to one spectacular stage in “The 20/20 Experience” tour. One minute he’s dancing and singing, the next he’s sitting at a white baby grand or out in the audience performing on a smaller stage with his guitar.
Taking the stage Aug. 9 without an opening act, Timberlake performed his second sold-out concert in the Valley in less than a year (he performed at US Airways Center in December 2013). Jobing.com Arena was a sold-out party of all ages Saturday night. Even Timberlake himself kept saying: “We love Arizona so much that we had to come back” and “It’s so nice here … so nice, so nice, we had to do it twice”.
Timberlake started out strong and introduced his band, The Tennessee Kids, and explained that they are known simply as JT and The Tennessee Kids. The band was an impressive ensemble of a complete brass section that was very interactive with Timberlake throughout the entire concert, along with backup singers and six dancers. They performed for nearly three hours with only one 10-minute intermission — going in and out through moving stage-floor doors on the set. The experience included a cool laser show at one point.
The concert started off like any other but quickly turned very upbeat. Timberlake took the stage with “Pusher Love Girl”, from “The 20/20 Experience” album. The best part of the entire performance took place in the last hour when a portion of the stage — a middle catwalk with steps on each side — suddenly went airborne and traveled across the entire length of the stadium with JT, his dancers and some of The Tennessee Kids performing on it the entire time without missing a beat. After the stage stopped at the other end, they walked off onto a smaller stage to give those in the nosebleed sections their own show for about three songs. Timberlake often engaged with his audiences, from a group of 10-year-olds to a 40-year-old on her birthday and took a selfie with one fan. He even drank a shot of alcohol from the back bar before belting out some tributes to those who came before him while playing the back of the stadium.
Hailing from Memphis, Tenn., Timberlake made sure to pay tribute to Elvis Presley with his rendition of “Heartbreak Hotel”. Next, he gave a shoutout to Michael Jackson and performed “Human Nature” from Jackson’s popular 1982 “Thriller” album. He even did an impromptu James Brown impression when he stepped back and kissed himself on the back of the hand. That was the beauty of Timberlake’s performance, he went from singing portions of his own songs toward the latter part of the concert and then he broke into Kool & the Gang’s 1973 “Jungle Boogie” or Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” from 1990. It made for some great dancing by the performers and the audience.
The show was so broad and entertaining that it went from being pop to big band to hip-hop to rock ‘n’ roll and then back to pop again. The talent was really unbelievable from everyone, not just Timberlake.
Nobody left early, and how could they since he saved his hit “Suit & Tie” from 2013’s “The 20/20 Experience” album until the very end. For the encore, he finished with what I would say is his most familiar solo song, “SexyBack”, from his 2006 album, “FutureSex/LoveSounds”.
“The 20/20 Experience” tour is playing California this week before heading to the United Kingdom.