JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, ADELAIDE ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE
Rip It Up — Having never called myself a Justin Timberlake fan, and paying little attention to his music beyond the inescapable hit singles, I was not sure what to expect from his show. One thing I knew for sure, it was going to be a spectacle. And on that, JT delivered, start to finish. The name of the pop star’s latest album, and subsequent world tour, The 20/20 Experience, is appropriate. Last night’s show was not something you listen to, or watch, but something you experience and feel. Partial to basement gigs over arena shows, never before had I seen that level of production in a live setting, from a moving stage that passed right over the crowd’s heads, to a laser light show, to the big band, orchestra and back-up dancers accompanying the main man throughout each song.
During a crowd-pleasing set from hype man DJ Freestyle Steve, the most eager of fans were selected to join the VIP area, a cordoned off, seated spot with its own bar and stage. The crowd were then asked if they were ready for Justin Timberlake. Were they ever. The noise level was, well, another level. The excited crowd, a diverse cross-section of the community (including children and grandmothers) was demonstrative of JT’s mass appeal, and his innocuous charm.
The lights dimmed and a countdown begun, before a full band (including two drum kits), back-up singers, and finally Justin, dressed in a casual suit and white sneakers, appeared from beneath the stage. The opening song, silky slow jam Pusher Love Girl, got things off to an impressive start and was a highlight of the night. Justin’s voice is flawless, as impressive live and exposed as on his production-heavy records. An orchestra appeared, silhouetted behind the screen, and the sound and aesthetic was an affecting hark back to the soul of Motown and Stax Records, complemented by Justin’s backing band The Tennessee Kids. The 20/20 Experience is less of a pop record than his previous outputs, taking inspiration from the old school soul and R&B of the ’70s, with some grimy rap and hip hop influences evident in the live performances of Suit And Tie and TKO.
In addition to his newer work there was a healthy selection of tracks from 2006’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, including Love Stoned/I Think She Knows, Summer Love and My Love. Justin would maybe benefit from a new word choice, but hey, it seems to be working for him. There’s a pretty clear recurring theme of love, girls and sex through every song of the night, mixed in with tried and true metaphors of love as a drug/candy/sugar. Cos love is addictive amirite? JT knows it.
During the performance Justin moved between effortless Motown cool and daggy adult contemporary, but the vocal crowd lapped it all up, eating out of the palm of his hands whenever the affable star glanced in their direction or mentioned ‘Adelaide’, to rapturous screams. Justin played to his audience with an ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ chant and a mention of Tim Tams (“the greatest thing ever invented”). True dat, JT. At times Justin seemed genuinely blown away by the adoration from the crowd, bowing down to his screaming fans and returning their ‘I love you’s. However, it’s difficult to gauge the sincerity from a worldwide superstar such as him, adept at working a room with the flash of a smile and a well-timed local reference.
Fans wanting to capture a glimpse of JT’s fancy footwork were not disappointed, with the singer dancing through most of the show and pulling his signature MJ-inspired moves. As Justified hit Rock Your Body began, back-up dancers emerged, seemingly gathered from the set of Step Up 2: The Streets. It was a distracting and unnecessary element, detracting from Justin’s own impressive dancing abilities, which are enough to pull in the crowd all on their own. The singer loosened things up for Like I Love You, losing the mic stand to traverse the entire stage, which included steps reaching up to fans in the upper levels left and right of the stage.
Justin took things down a notch as his band disappeared and a white grand piano emerged from the floor for the FSLS sexy slow jam Until The End Of Time. Justin, alone on the stage with his piano, told the crowd to get their lighters and cell phones out, and the room was lit up with a sea of iPhones as the audience joined in with vocals; a surprisingly beautiful image. It was nice to see JT playing an instrument, a reminder of his talent and status as a true pop artist. As his band returned Justin launched in to Cry Me A River, penned, lest us forget, after his break up with Britney Spears. While he sung, images flashed up onscreen of a perfect storm of heavy rain, a flowing river and a destructive cyclone (AKA Britney). METAPHORS.
After a 10-minute intermission, JT upped his interaction with the crowd, leading the room in a slightly awkward Happy Birthday to one of his crew members and engaging in a one-on-one conversation with a loyal fan who came dressed to impress. In keeping with the 20/20 theme, Justin ensured almost every member of the audience got to see him up close. The biggest spectacle of the night came during Señorita when the stage rose up and began moving to the back of the AEC, right over the heads of those in general admission. Fans left and right were rewarded with a near tangible glimpse of the star who danced, sung, waved and smiled through all of it. Once the stage had stopped in its new setting, Justin descended the stairs into the VIP area, touching the hands of his admirers, stealing and downing a drink, and interacting with the appreciative crowd, including a conversation with a couple who had apparently just gotten engaged during the show. Must be all the love talk.
Justin got back into the swing of things with a stripped back version of current radio hit Not A Bad Thing and a series of covers, including Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel and Michael Jackson’s Thriller cut Human Nature. It is no secret that Justin has taken his musical cues from his idol MJ, right down to the popularised two-letter acronym of his name. The second act continued with What Goes Around Comes Around, which the entire room delighted in joining in with, before a surprising and fun cover of Bel Biv Devoe’s 90s jam Poison. After a short pause, Justin closed proceedings with SexyBack and the 20/20 hit Mirrors, complete with epic guitar solos and excited crowd accompaniment, bookending the show with another impressive moment.
For all the spectacle, the night’s best moments occurred without the bells and whistles, with Justin’s sheer talent able to speak for itself. It is worth noting the massive number of hits the singer has accumulated over just three solo albums. Whether you like them or not, he does have a knack for creating appealing and enduring pop music. Justin Timberlake does not need the immense production of the 20/20 tour, just his voice, his moves, and maybe that moving stage.
Justin Timberlake gets his sexy on in Adelaide
Glam Adelaide — Bringing Sexy Back to Adelaide for the first time since 2007, Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience World Tour has all the element’s you’d expect from a mega star that has traversed several mediums of performance hyper successfully. It’s chic, bold, and no doubt the result of a huge production budget, but gets off to a slow start and gradually builds momentum as the show progresses. Fortunately, the visual spectacular makes up for the initial minimalist approach and adds weight to the whole JT Experience.
In the pre-show entertainment, a live DJ got the crowd wild before handing over to California R&B/Rock/Reggae outfit the Common Kings to set the pace. These guys were smooth and well received by the crowd. But when Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids hit the stage and delved into his 20/20 repertoire with ‘Pusher Love Girl’, it sent the girls swooning and when he followed up with ‘Like I Love You’, they were already spellbound.
The first half was visually astonishing, with the honeycomb-screened backdrop displaying the multimedia experience, adding an extra layer to the show. The Tennessee Kids were well oiled as were the backup dancers who collectively disappeared into the sinking stage and reappeared again when required. The dance routines were a little repetitive in places, but there’s no doubt that Timberlake by now is a seasoned entertainer who sings and dances exceptionally well, and his voice still hits the high falsetto like notes synonymous with his songs with relative ease. Just before taking a quick break, JT and band sang ‘Cry me A River’ whilst the multimedia backdrop showed, well, a river engulfed by a typhoon as a symbolic gesture to match the song. It wasn’t a bad first half, but it just didn’t have the initial impact you’d expect from an entertainer of this calibre.
After some crowd banter, the second and more vibrant act launched, and this is where JT came out and delivered. Playing multiple instruments including keyboard and guitar, he showed why he’s currently one of the world’s most talented entertainers. The guy undoubtedly can write a song, and eventually opened up to the crowd with his sense of humour.
The highlight of the night was when the front of the stage detached and was elevated, which then transported Timberlake and other members from the main stage to the VIP area at the rear of the auditorium. It gave those up in the tiered seating a real close up glimpse and was an amazing addition to the show. He was generous as he worked the rear stage, shaking hands with fans, congratulating a couple who’d just got engaged right then and there, and finally making a toast to our wonderful City Of Adelaide… and Tim Tams!
Whilst there, he paid tribute to fellow Memphis legend Elvis Presley with a rendition of ‘Heartbreak Hotel, and then celebrated another absent friend, Michael Jackson’, with a cover of ‘Human Nature’ and finally sang ‘What Goes Around Comes Around’.
The encore was where ‘Bringing Sexy Back’ finally made an appearance, and where the preferred version of Justin Timberlake finally turned up. It’s easy to understand how performers sometimes try to reinvent themselves or veer from their path. It may work for some, but for Justin Timberlake- when you’re on a good thing it’s best to stick with it. He’s certainly done that, and puts on a great show!
Justin Timberlake and the 20/20 Experience World Tour will play again tonight (Tuesday September 23) in Adelaide before heading to Brisbane, Sydney & Perth.
Pop star Justin Timberlake gives fans flawless performance from front to back of Adelaide Entertainment Centre
Adelaide Now — HIS tour is billed the 20/20 Experience and in keeping with the vision theme, Justin Timberlake made sure fans saw plenty of him at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Monday night.
JT ensured fans got their money’s worth from a quality performance that had him on stage for nearly two and a half hours to employing a fabulously adaptable stage which allowed even the fans in the cheap seats to get an up-close glimpse of the pop superstar.
It was a show with plenty of bells and whistles — from the impressive stage setup to a brass band and bevy of back-up singers and dancers, Timberlake’s latest tour is quite the production.
Timberlake’s set, split into two halves, showed just how far the one-time boy band member has come, with a steady back catalogue of hits plus some surprising covers thrown in for good measure.
A fair chunk of his past chart toppers were delivered in act one — from Cry Me A River and Rock Your Body to LoveStoned and Summer Love — some of which could have done with a less-is-more treatment as the sheer breadth of the band at times drowned out the crisp pop sound of the songs many have come to know so well.
And while JT’s 20/20 Experience is a slick, suave affair, it was refreshing that as the night went on Timberlake paused for a few moments of levity — to sing Happy Birthday to an embarrassed crew member; to reveal his love of Tim Tams (“the best thing ever invented”); to point out a dedicated fan’s costume effort; to down a shot on stage.
He even took time out to congratulate an excited couple who told him they had gotten engaged at the show.
The second act, while not crammed with as many hits, was arguably more engaging thanks to a stage change-up — in which JT and his dancers were slowly transported to the back of the arena so everybody could catch an up-close glimpse as the all singing and dancing performer made his way past — as well as some inspired arrangements and covers.
An acoustic rendition of What Goes Around … Comes Around offered a chance for Timberlake to showcase his vocal chops and reward fans with something different, while covers of Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel, Michael Jackson’s Human Nature, Jungle Boogie (Kool and the Gang) and 1990s Poison by Bell Biv DeVoe were enjoyable additions.
Closing out the night with SexyBack and more recent single Mirrors, JT certainly gave fans plenty of bang for their buck and complemented his musical offerings with some scorching choreography which at times almost stole the show.
Timberlake also proved he has the talent to back up his chart-topping success and here’s hoping in the future he might consider a more pared-back approach because he doesn’t need to hide behind all the bells and whistles.
Timberlake plays again at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Tuesday night, September 23.