Justin Timberlake: Five lasting impressions from a flawless Dallas show
The Dallas Morning News — Nineteen songs into Justin Timberlake’s concert Wednesday evening at American Airlines Center, a friend turned to me and summed it up beautifully: «That man is disciplined. Just impeccable. Like the male Beyoncé».
I’ve seen Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience World Tour in the same venue twice (he brought it here the first time a year ago), and I can wholeheartedly echo my friend’s sentiments. I never would have thought it possible for the 33-year-old pop icon to show himself up, but he did.
The set list didn’t change from last year, and neither did the structure — two acts, the second featuring a moving railway that brought Justin and his dancers feet away from plaza-level audience members in every corner of the arena. Yet last night, the pop star somehow shone brighter; the near-capacity crowd screamed louder and danced harder. Kudos to the band, the Tennessee Kids, the cadre of dancers and most importantly the show’s creative director, Timberlake himself, on a flawless effort.
Here are five lasting impressions, in case you weren’t one of the people under the showman’s spell on Wednesday night.
THE OPENER: In most arena spectacles, the headlining performer follows the band or dancers to the stage, aiming for a big reveal. Not the case here. Opening with «Pusher Love Girl», Timberlake appears alone first and sings a few lines, letting his large band slowly rise from below the stage. Then they all clap out the beat and gradually add in the sonic layers. It’s the good, old slow build. And then it’s off and running with «Rock Your Body». The nearly-three-hour concert amounts to a master class in pacing.
THE MOVES: It’s remarkable that Timberlake’s dance abilities haven’t faded a bit as he’s gotten older. But the endlessly smooth, naturalistic choreography for hits like «Cry Me A River» and «My Love» are muscle memory for the guy. That’s why it seems so effortless on stage. How he’s able to sing every note perfectly while doing said choreography tends to baffle.
KEYS AND STRINGS: Timberlake capably accompanies himself on piano and guitar at several points throughout the show. He channels his inner Prince at a white piano while doing «Until the End of Time» and looks completely at ease picking and strumming his mid-tempo singles «Drink You Away» and «Not a Bad Thing».
THE SUPPORTING PLAYERS: As mentioned, the Tennessee Kids are as adept at moving to the music as the dancers mingling with them on stage. The best moment of the first act involves the entire cast of the production moving in unison, commanding the crowd to do the same. And then there’s an absolutely epic run at the end of the second act that includes snippets of «Jungle Boogie», «Murder», Bell Biv Devoe’s «Poison», and «Suit & Tie». It’s the point during which the concert begins to feel like a very large nightclub at peak hour.
ODES TO THE KINGS: The two notable cover songs performed front to back in the second act are Elvis Presley’s «Heartbreak Hotel» and Michael Jackson’s «Human Nature». Timberlake sings his face off on both — a not so subtle reminder that he’s a viable successor to pop’s proverbial throne. We’ll see if Usher can bring his A-game to the space tonight. Here’s hoping he’s well rested.