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Crónica e imágenes: «The Man Of The Woods Tour», en London, 9 de julio

El cantante Justin Timberlake actua en el escenario de O2 Arena durante su gira «The Man Of The Woods Tour» el 9 de julio, en la ciudad de London, England.

Justin Timberlake’s opening act just made some London fans very happy

Nashville Tennessean — Music icon Justin Timberlake knows his fans.

So when the World Cup semifinal between England and Croatia happened to coincide with his London show on Wednesday, the Tennessee native pulled some strings with his concert venue, the famed O2 arena, to give his fans what they want.

«I’ve been doing some thinking, « Timberlake said in a video posted to his Twitter account Tuesday morning. «We had a crazy show on Monday. Crazy. Got another one coming up on Wednesday.

«There’s also another very important thing happening on Wednesday. So here’s what we’re going to do. I spoke to the O2, and for the first time ever, doors will open at 6:30 and we’re going to play this England [vs] Croatia match on my big screens.

«We’re going to watch this together, and you know what, it’s coming home».

It’s not the first time Timberlake has embraced his fans’ sports obsessions during a tour. While at Bridgestone Arena in May, he threw his support behind the Nashville Predators ahead of Game 7 against the Winnipeg Jets.

Justin Timberlake pauses London show to commiserate with fans over England loss with shots

Metro — Justin Timberlake took a moment out of his second London date to commiserate with the crowed over England’s loss.

The singer took to the stage immediately after England’s crushing defeat to Croatia — he’d even delayed the start time and canceled his support act to screen the game for his fans — and he knew he had a tough job to perk the crowd’s spirits up after watching England lose by that one fateful goal in extra time.

So he knew what he had to do — shots.

‘Three Lions won my heart over and I am gutted’, he yelled to the cheering crowd. ‘I am gutted!

‘So you know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna have a drink’.

JT then pulled up a tray of shots and began handing them out to his dancers and musicians.

‘We’re all gonna drink’, he said. ‘Hold on a second there’s a lot of us, takes a second to pass these out’.

Once each of his band members had their shot glass, they all held them aloft as the 37-year-old gave a toast.

‘Here’s to my home away from home. Here’s to a wonderful, wonderful crowd, not one, but two crazy nights at the O2. And like I said, you won my heart. So we’ll put one up for the boys in Russia right now.

‘We shall return. Not now but next time, it’s coming home. We love you England. Cheers!’

The star then continued his night of working through his old hits — SexyBack and Cry Me A River both made an appearance along with his new music from Man Of The Woods.

Despite the defeat the arena was packed to the rafters with fans cheering and dancing as Justin Timberlake brought the party.

The previous night, he made 20,000 friends when he stopped his gig to shout ‘it’s…coming…home!’ ahead of the semi final game the following day.

Timberlake shouted — with a slightly dodgy English accent: ‘Go on Kane! Go on Maguire!’

And just to cap it off, he and his band, the Tennessee Kids, played Three Lions.

He’s definitely earned his honourary Brit status.

Justin Timberlake review: A genius entertainer

Standard — Having delivered an underwhelming album and a forgettable Super Bowl halftime show by the first week of February, Justin Timberlake’s 2018 comeback appeared to be over almost before it had begun. But if last night’s ambitious staging and slick performance proved anything, it’s that you underestimate Timberlake at your peril.

Presented in the round, an S-shaped walkway cut the arena in half, with dazzling, 15-piece backing band Tennessee Kids split between two podiums on the adjoining stage. In keeping with the rugged, living-off-the-land aesthetic of his latest LP, Man Of The Woods, skeletal trees were scattered along the walkway and a campfire was summoned late in the set for a covers interlude.

Timberlake and his dancers endeavoured to cover every inch of the set with choreography ranging from body-popping during the freak-funk of Filthy, to Fred Astaire-inspired moves accompanying Suit And Tie.

As lithe vocally as he is physically, and attentive to all sections of the audience, the 37-year-old acquitted himself as the consummate performer, even leading the arena in an impromptu rendition of Three Lions. That generosity extended to the hit-sprinkled setlist, the apex of which arrived with an outstanding, three-song run of My Love, Cry Me A River and Mirrors. For the former two, Timberlake stood triggering samples, creating a remix of the tracks in real time, while an epic rendition of the latter was accompanied by fragmented projections and disco-ball lighting.

The glorious, gospel-tinged Say Something excepted, however, none of the new songs held a candle to performances of classic tracks, which made portions of the set heavy with Man Of The Woods seem a bit of a slog. That these lulls didn’t detract from the show overall is testament to Timberlake’s genius as an entertainer.

Our rating: 4/5

Justin Timberlake is one of the greatest live performers of all time

GQ — Justin Timberlake, arguably the world’s best male pop star, should never have been that guy with a guitar at a party you avoid at all costs. Yet on his last album, Man Of The Woods, Justin Timberlake ventured as close to a folksy, guitar-wielding Henry David Thoreau impression that producer Timbaland’s beats and the singer’s own R&B-tilting vocals would allow.

Unlike Thoreau’s Walden, however, Justin Timberlake’s Man Of The Woods Tour, which made its way to London’s O2 Arena last night, doesn’t preach simple living, introspection or self-sufficiency. Sure, Timberlake has stuck to his album’s theme: dotted along the enormous S-shaped stage that covers the entire arena floor are fake trees, with the tip of the S dedicated entirely to long grass. There are also projections of forests throughout and at one point even a campfire sing-a-long (more on that later). But the Man Of The Woods Tour isn’t some trite Bon Iver tribute act; from the first few minutes it becomes apparent that Timberlake didn’t just come to play. He’s building a future for himself in these here woods.

Opening the show with Man Of The Woods’ lead single, «Filthy», Timberlake deconstructed the pulsating track, laying out the intricate production and building it to a smashing conclusion. Matching the futurism of that song were more lights than a UFO landing; precision lasers roamed the stage, circling around dancers and Timberlake himself as he marched down the snaking stage to the centre ring. Barely five minutes, flanked by dancers, a dance break followed, swiftly dispelling any accusations that Timberlake may be encroaching on awkward dad territory.

It’s here, too, that the first of the intricate stage projections began. Before launching into «Midnight Summer Jam», fabric descended from the ceiling, with projections creating a 360-degree, almost holographic experience as wolves and wilderness engulfed the arena. Technologically speaking, there was nothing back-to-basics about the production of this musical spectacular that, at times, verged on sensory overload.

For the next almost two hours, Timberlake’s show continued at a propulsive pace, veering carelessly from massive hits to lesser known newer album tracks to deep cuts, all without a pause for breath. From «LoveStoned», where a special camera somehow turned the star into a Windows Media Player visual equaliser, he moved into an electric rendition of «SexyBack», then two new songs, «Man Of The Woods» and «Higher Higher», before segueing into «Señorita». He did it seamlessly and with so much energy that it left the crowd hysterical, shouting the call-and-response that closes out this Justin Timberlake classic.

From here, Timberlake entered into the string of his imperial hits: «Suit & Tie», an excuse for the singer to soak up and draw in the audience’s frothing excitement and show his skills as a dancer thanks to more lasers and a mic stand; «My Love», which he performed with a sampler, like a pseudo Jack Garratt; «Cry Me A River», which, thanks to projections, saw the audience become the raindrops from the music video while the dancers and Timberlake tell a story of betrayal among lashings of dry ice; and «Mirrors», the night’s highlight and one of the greatest songs of the last ten years. Projections helped tell the song’s story, images of Timberlake’s wife, actor Jessica Biel, appeared at the song’s intro before shifting to flashes of the singer himself for the chorus. As he said, it was like a mirror staring back at him. Amid a stampede of percussion, the song reached a dramatic climax as Timberlake threw himself on the ground.

It’s the sort of song and performance that would close out a regular arena show, but not this one. Instead, again barely taking a breather, the show mutated again, but not before Timberlake took the opportunity indulge in an «It’s coming home» reference, which kicked off an arena-sized rendition of «Three Lions». Then, shifting the focus away from digital projections and synchronised light shows, there was an attempt at «rootsy» Americana, all acoustic guitars, bluesy vocal harmonies and Southern horns. For perhaps longer than it warranted, Timberlake marched through deep cuts as a setup for the campfire.

What is there to say about the campfire except that Timberlake has clearly never been to Glastonbury. Unlike the usual crusty, guitar-strumming sing-a-longs one usually expects — and, yes, there is an actual campfire on stage — the singer made his way through «Until The End Of Time» and then a number of covers, giving him a chance to showcase his backing singers. For a show that started at 100 miles-per-hour, it was a shock to the system, but gave the audience a chance to rest their feet. It dragged a bit during Man Of The Woods cut «Morning Light», but Timberlake knew it and, like the snap of a branch, went back to crowd pleasing.

The wistful «What Goes Around…/…Comes Around» was played solo with that trusty acoustic guitar, now glued to the singer, giving the song a transient and ghostly slant. This etheric moment was cut short, however, when the clacking drums of «Say Something» kicked in. Despite this song’s oblique socio-political commentary (whether it is good or bad to say something is never quite clear), «Say Something», from his fifth solo album, now joins the list of Timberlake’s defining songs. Whether it’s the rousing chord progression, the power of the vocal harmonies or the song’s horn section, at the O2 it became a «moment». So much so, in fact, that it was a shame not to end the set here and have the singer lope off before an encore.

Instead, Timberlake crammed as much content into the two-hour show as possible, perhaps to his detriment. The not-so-classic «Montana» was a steep comedown from the euphoria of «Say Something» and «Summer Love», a deep cut from FutureSex/LoveSounds was superfluous. And because of this overstuffing, hits such as «Rock Your Body» and «Like I Love You», complete with their original choreography, weren’t given their moment in the sun (or by the campfire). They’re even broken up by «Supplies», the worst offender from Timberlake’s Man Of The Woods.

After the display of cutting-edge production, sexy AF choreography and swelling of sheer musicality, it was an anomaly to end the show with JT’s naffest single, «Can’t Fight The Feeling». The singer himself was disinterested in actually singing during the finale, instead letting the audience, already so hyped they could pop, sing the song’s saccharine lyrics. To his credit, Timberlake held onto the crowd until the closing seconds, with the usual suspects dancing through rather than sloping off to the Tube to miss the rush.

And that’s what Justin Timberlake and the Man Of The Woods Tour has as its secret weapon: captivation. With more than two decades of experience in the entertainment industry, he knows how to maintain an audience’s attention, how to mould them so they’re pumped at his signals and (mostly) when to take his foot off the accelerator. It allows for a smattering of lesser-known and crucially maligned material; even when the songs aren’t as strong, Timberlake’s performance was still powerfully magnetic as he burst from one song into another.

Similarly, unlike a legacy artist, his show is still exciting, carefully crafted to bring fans the best in audio-visual technology while ensuring that, musically, things line up too. Timberlake’s band, The Tennessee Kids, are some of the greatest live musicians in the business, clearly, and as the star, he lets them shine just as bright. Not that he’s ever eclipsed; Timberlake’s talent is awe-inducing as he deftly serves the vocals and choreography of someone with something still to prove. It’s a reminder that, sure, Man Of The Woods might not have been an instant classic or universally loved, but that Timberlake is one of music’s greatest entertainers and will be remembered as such. It’s a title that, after last night’s spectacle, feels well deserved.

Justin Timberlake’s set-list:

«Midnight Summer Jam»
«Sexy Back»
«Man of the Woods»
«Higher Higher»
«Suit & Tie»
«SoulMate (Playback)»
«My Love»
«Cry Me A River»
«Drink You Away»
«Until the End of Time»
«Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)»
«Ex-Factor (Lauryn Hill cover)»
«Come Together (The Beatles cover)»
«Thank God I’m a Country Boy (John Denver cover)»
«Morning Light»
«What Goes Around…/…Comes Around»
«Say Something»
«Summer Love»
«Rock Your Body»
«Like I Love You»
«Can’t Stop the Feeling!»

Justin Timberlake review — pop’s constant dancer grows old gracefully

The Guardian — Being in a boy band might be the time of your life, for a while, but after a few years the whole thing starts to look like a parable for human mortality. Sure, your voice might endure, but your body won’t keep dancing like that, and your fans will only ever span a single generation; like an iPhone or David Davis, obsolescence is built in.

So, what if you do want to keep dancing? It’s the conundrum facing Justin Timberlake, 37, whose time in boyband N*Sync was followed by a hugely successful and credible solo career that has faltered a little of late with 2013’s bloated The 20/20 Experience and new album Man of the Woods, lampooned by critics for his anti-metropolitan switch from suits to plaid.

The album’s rural concept is spectacularly, faithfully, even pedantically realised on stage. While some stars are content with a little catwalk and cursory acknowledgements of the cheap seats, Timberlake draws together the whole arena via a snaking path dotted with trees, a patch of retractable grass and a fully working, presumably gas-driven campfire at the opposite end. The latter is used for a good ol’ singalong with his backing vocalists — real-world campfires feature earnest Australians doing Jack Johnson, but here we have melismatic takes on Lauryn Hill and Fleetwood Mac.

Man of the Woods’ country-soul turns out to be an astute, classy option for any ageing male pop star. The title track, rather corny on record, becomes endearingly light-hearted — you could imagine Candi Staton doing a good cover — and the magnificently robust single Say Something will endure long into any future world tours. Drink Me Away though, a 20/20 track that sketched out Woods’ path, ends up dragging out to at least 10 minutes long, what with Timberlake’s insistence on taking a shot with his band while hollering «It’s coming home!» and name-checking Kane and Maguire in perky American-cockney.

Other parts of the set take in Timberlake’s previous generational shift: the funk revue of The 20/20 Experience, essayed by his tight, cacophonous band the Tennessee Kids. This mode is less successful, pummelling the minimalist grooves out of Filthy, LoveStoned and Señorita, though the sheer showboating chops of the two drummers and the lead guitarist are undeniably riveting. Timberlake shows off his own musicianship, playing acoustic guitar, organ and, most compellingly, a sampler, triggering a bright funky collage of his own vocals to introduce My Love. Powered by the set’s strongest hooks, the band’s maximalism suddenly delivers as they segue into Cry Me a River and Mirrors for a dizzyingly uplifting climax. It’s a reminder that one of Timberlake’s best contributions to pop is his brand of power ballad: propulsive and gospel-infused.

His other USP, of course, is his dancing. A mix of Michael Jackson, boy-band aerobics and the jookin style of his native Tennessee, his trademark style is one of tight robotic gestures. In his youth he looked possessed by these moves; now there is the less exciting sense that he is now in control, with just a tiny hint of rust. But when he gives himself to jookin, tracing golden ratios with his feet, he’s mesmerising, and there’s a nod to contemporary styles with a burst of rapper BlocBoy JB’s hopping «shoot» moves.

Age has perhaps withered Like I Love You a little, Timberlake now unable to give it its malevolent erotic urgency. There are no screaming girls in the audience, only screaming women back in touch with their girlhood. But no matter: Timberlake is finding clever new ways to be a pop star as he begins to contemplate middle age. The plainly euphoric closing number Can’t Stop the Feeling is a case in point: with the tempo slightly relaxed compared with his earlier work, along with his shoulders and hips, it feels perfectly in tune with today’s Timberlake. Pop lifespans be damned — the boy is still determined to dance, dance, dance.

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