Concert review: Justin Timberlake, Vector Arena
The New Zeland Herald — Vector Arena was treated to some impressive southern hospitality last night, with Tennessee kid Justin Timberlake playing his first show of three.
The new king of pop had a deceptively simple, classic stage set-up which had his 15-piece band rising up like a small castle of instruments behind hexagonal band stands, echoing the entertainers of old – except for the mega-wide, beehive-inspired black-and-white backdrop screen.
This made Vector feel more intimate than usual, and kept attention firmly where it belonged – on JT and his crew.
From the lush orchestrated opening of Pusher Love Girl, Timberlake’s vocal performance was smooth and snappy, his a capella phrases leaving no doubt about his prowess with a microphone.
The band did an impressive job of delivering his complex arrangements, the guitarists deserving a special mention for their many prodigious solos, and the backing vocalists and horns for their party-starting dance skills during Senorita, which saw JT showing off on the Rhodes piano.
The man can play his instruments – he even took on the finger-picking in the opening of What Goes Around.
A Timberlake show is just as much about those signature dance moves, though, and his precise yet casual approach, replicated by his six dancers, is truly distinctive.
The shoulder shrugs, finger snaps, leg flicks, hat tips – they’re a charming combination. The synchronicity between sound and movement in Suit & Tie and SexyBack was a sensory joy, and Mirrors was the perfect anthem to finish the show.
He opted for a shorter set-list than he played in Australia, but the show still ran to nearly two hours, and while it’s the new tunes that really highlight his experimental pop abilities, the older ones are clearly still beloved by the crowds.
There were no jokes from the man who’s become known for his comedic stylings on shows like SNL and Jimmy Fallon, but he did jump down to the crowd to give one lucky girl a JT selfie for her 21st birthday.
The consummate showman is no longer the curly blond baby-face boy-band graduate or simply the guy who brought sexy back, but a timeless performer who’s already created quite a legacy in his 33 years. Let’s hope it’s not seven years before this master of class returns to New Zealand.
* Justin Timberlake performs in the same venue tonight and Wednesday.
Where: Vector Arena, Auckland
When: Sunday, October 12
REVIEW: Justin Timberlake
Vector Arena, October 12
Reviewed by Michelle Duff
Review: Justin Timberlake
Auckland Now — He’s been bringing sexy back since 2006, and last night was no exception.
Before Justin Timberlake’s first New Zealand show at Vector Arena, my mum texted me. «That’s so cool!’, she said, when she found out I was going. «After Michael Jackson, he is the best».
Timberlake’s track record is certainly impressive. After smashing out hits like Cry me a River and Rock your Body, the pop star took a five-year break to focus on making movies before last year’s record The 20/20 Experience became the best selling album of 2013.
Wearing a black shirt with white lightning bolts, black pants, white sneakers and that trademark fedora hat, Timberlake strolled onto stage and launched straight into song.
Backed by his band the Tennessee Kids, and accompanied by a troupe of dancers, he strutted, shimmied, crooned, and belted out hit after hit during a high-energy set that lasted almost two hours.
From the second song, Rock your Body, Timberlake had the crowd on their feet. A 3D digital landscape rolled behind him, flicking from close-ups to his band and him, to futuristic machinery and patterns.
There wasn’t much time wasted on chit-chat. Apart from the odd «Did you come here to party tonight, Auckland?» the show was mostly about that voice, and those sweet, sweet dance moves.
One lucky girl in the crowd looked like she was going to pass out when Timberlake announced it was her 21st birthday, and got down off the stage to get a selfie with her. It was kind of cute that she tried to fix her hair before Timberlake took the shot.
The audience was a real mix of ages, and there were probably only slightly more girls than guys. One dude showed his age (or was it concert-going nous?) when, during a song when Timberlake asked the crowd to raise their cellphones, he raised a lighter and continued to take photos with his smartphone. Now that’s thinking.
At Perth Arena, the stage moved to sail Timberlake across the room. There were no such bells and whistles here, and it would have been nice to have some kind of extension out into the crowd, like he did in 2007.
Timberlake’s musical skills were showcased when he played a couple of songs – including hit Senorita – on piano himself, along with a remix of What Goes Around…Comes Around on the guitar.
«I just love you guys so much. I promise it won’t be seven more years», he said, before closing with Suit & Tie.
Only, of course he wasn’t done. After being stomped back on to stage, he finished with Sexy Back and one of his newest hits, Mirrors.
A slick show, by one of the biggest pop stars of our generation. And there was barely a crotch-grab in sight.
Girl gets mid-concert birthday selfie with Justin Timberlake
The New Zeland Herald — Justin Timberlake paused his first Auckland show to gift a mid-set selfie to a Kiwi fan celebrating her 21st birthday.
The fan, Krishna, was holding a sign that read, «It’s my 21st, take a selfie with me» while standing in the front row for Timberlake’s concert last night.
Timberlake saw the sign, paused the show, jumped down from the stage and fulfilled her wish, Krishna told radio station ZM this morning.
«I was just standing there with the sign, then he looked at me – then I died – and he was like, ‘Is it your birthday?’. And I was like, ‘Yes, it’s my 21st birthday’. Everyone was screaming beside me, so he made everyone shut up», she told ZM.
«I was shaking, and JT was like, ‘Why are you shaking?’ I was like, ‘It’s you, you’re not a normal boy that I see every day’.
«I touched his sweaty back. It was good».
Timberlake played hits from throughout his solo career at last night’s show, including Pusher Love, SexyBack and Cry Me a River.
«It’s the best concert ever», said Krishna. «You get him dancing, you get him singing, you get him rapping a bit, you just get the full package. It’s the most amazing concert you’ll ever go to».
He plays Vector Arena again tonight and Wednesday.
Justin Timberlake: Off the charts
The New Zeland Herald — The Guardian called Justin Timberlake’s world tour «an evening of relentless class» and, in the 12 months since he embarked on the first show of his world tour, 33-year-old Justin Timberlake seems to have brought the house down with a snappy performance of Memphis-flavoured funk, pop, and RnB, night after night.
It seems he may have ditched the bow tie and Victorian-ish black and white spat-styled dance shoes since his appearance in Britain but the new-look effect is still that of a rock ‘n’ roll tuxedo.
He wears black pants and jacket with untucked white shirt adorned with lightning bolts, all designed by Neil Barrett, a scruff of facial hair, and white sneakers. It’s a look that fits perfectly with the casual but swanky vibe of his 15-piece swing band – which includes four backing vocalists and four horn players – and his six stylish dancers.
It seems to be truly a «song and dance» show. There won’t be any confetti cannons or fireworks. Instead, the focus is on a perfectly choreographed blend of hip swings, hand flourishes, leg flicks, winks, head tilts, and finger snaps, with rippling lights, lasers, an impressive visual effects screen made up of hexagonal shapes, made to look like a futuristic beehive, and some key stage hydraulics. All in time with his sweet falsetto, crooning tenor, and lively rap-speak complete with southern twang of course.
In Australia, where he’s currently playing, Timberlake has been performing two sets, with 29 songs in total, including covers of Elvis, Michael Jackson, and Kool and The Gang, along with tinkling the ivories on a white grand piano and strumming his own guitar.
Songs from all his solo albums (Justified, FutureSex/LoveSounds, The 20/20 Experience Part I and Part II) are included, and by all accounts, he really is there to rock the party, blending a suave 1930s vibe with futuristic energy.
JT isn’t really about delving into the deep, dark, howling corners of blues and soul.
Instead he likes to skim, light-footed, across the top, and it seems highly likely that a live concert setting is going to be the ultimate place to hear him play with those recent tracks like Pusher Love Girl and Mirrors that stretch over seven minutes.
Timberlake was the first star to play three nights at Vector Arena back in 2007, not long after it first opened, when he was busy «bringin’ sexy back», and though he’s been somewhat preoccupied with his acting career in the interim, his world tour looks to be a slightly more mature – but just as smooth – follow-up.
Who: Justin Timberlake
What: The World Tour, with support from Californian-based Pacific four-piece Common Kings, who blend rock, reggae, RnB, and soul.
Where and when: Sunday, October 12, Monday, October 13, Wednesday, October 15 at Vector Arena.
Set times: Common Kings 7.30pm, Justin Timberlake 8.30pm, show finishes approximately 11pm.
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