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Crónica e imágenes: «The Man Of The Woods Tour», en Edmonton, 6 de febrero

El cantante Justin Timberlake actua en el escenario de Rogers Place durante su gira «The Man Of The Woods Tour» el 6 de febrero, en la ciudad de Edmonton, AB, Canadá.

Justin Timberlake’s song-and-dance spectacle heats up Rogers Place

Edmonton Journal — Promising to warm things up on a frigid February evening, Justin Timberlake delivered a song-and-dance spectacle at Rogers Place Wednesday night, treating concertgoers to a pop-fueled procession of hits.

Making a two-night stint in the City of Champions on his Man of the Woods tour, it seemed fitting that the opening night was divided into two halves. The first half offered a carefully choreographed trip through material off Timberlake’s latest album — which inspired the tour’s title — mixed in with mainstays LoveStoned, SexyBack and Señorita, while the second half was more casual, drawing on acoustic guitar for tracks Drink You Away and Morning Light before culminating with Like I Love You and Can’t Stop the Feeling!

Attendees were greeted by an elaborate S-shaped stage that snaked across the arena floor, featuring elevation changes reminiscent of the Crashed Ice track that occasionally winds its way into the river valley and a centre stage flanked on both sides by working bars that allowed folks on the floor to refuel without leaving the party.

The unique setup provided plenty of visual variety, with two groupings of fake trees rising above the stage, screens descending from the rafters, and the far end of the sprawling catwalk sprouting tall grass and even a roaring campfire at one point.

However, the focus remained on Timberlake throughout the night. Supported by a troop of backup dancers and a backing band that occasionally swallowed up the singer with thumping beats, particularly on the opener Filthy, he roamed across the catwalk in a black jacket stamped with Man of the Woods on the back and a similarly branded white T-shirt.

The night was free of cameos, confetti, covers, or even an encore, but contained more subtle highlights. Señorita showcased a drum battle between opposing platforms on the main stage before Timberlake changed into a blazer (sans tie) and slowed things down for Suit & Tie, breaking away from his backup dancers to groove solo with a microphone stand at centre stage. He also showed off some skill on the mixing machine, warming his hands over it for a few laughs before setting off the sultry number My Love.

Breakup smash Cry Me A River came on as smoke filled the length of the stage and screens projected raindrops onto the audience, providing the first of a handful of moments that made people swivel their heads to take in the scene surrounding them. That led into Mirrors — off the 2013 album The 20/20 Experience — and upon its conclusion Timberlake was kneeling at centre stage, closing out the first half by saying «thank you Canada» in a way that had people wondering about the early pause in the action.

Both Wednesday and Thursday’s performances represent makeup dates after bruised vocal chords derailed shows originally scheduled for early November. Timberlake made mention of the delay to start the show’s second half, in the only bit of dialogue that strayed off script.

«I thought it was gonna be a rain cheque, I didn’t know it was gonna be a freeze cheque. This is a different type of cold, y’all are some tough mmhmmm…», he said, before concluding «there’s only one way to handle this type of cold, let’s drink», and passed out shots to the band — introduced only as Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids — before Drink You Away shifted the mood.

At the two-thirds mark a full-fledged commercial for love showed archival footage of happy lovers laughing and dancing, draped in another’s arms, with canoodling couples saying things like «I knew there was something connecting us» or «every time I think of shea butter I think of her» or comparing timeless love to «a Venus flytrap, drawing me in» — amen brother.

The video was accompanied by a series of boy-meets-girl backup dancer scenarios playing themselves out around the stage when the campfire appeared, surrounded by wooden benches and Timberlake on guitar for Morning Light. Afterward, it seemed like an odd transition going from the «I’m in love with you» sentimentality to What Goes Around… Comes Around, but the guitar fit, connecting a relaxed stretch with the recent hit Say Something.

Timberlake picked up the crowd interaction as the night progressed. He eventually entered the audience during Rock Your Body and found a multi-coloured dance floor, then danced along the bar tops surrounding the centre stage for Supplies, one of the highlights off his latest album.

Can’t Stop the Feeling! closed things out in an upbeat, satisfying way before concertgoers were forced to brave the elements once more. But the cheers at the end of the show signaled that Timberlake’s visit was worth the wait, providing a pop-party respite for a couple hours on a night when temperatures plunged outside and the mercury climbed inside.

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