If you didn’t see Justin Timberlake at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, don’t worry. He’ll be back.
For years to come.
The concert left little doubt that Timberlake is a performer for the ages: someone who already has transitioned not only out of his boy band days of ‘N Sync, but beyond the blue-eyed hip-hop of his first solo album to become a fully formed entertainer whose career seems able to last as long as he wants it to.
His two-hour-and-15-minute concert of 29 songs (and snippets of others) covered nearly all that territory (sorry, no ‘N Sync songs), but updated all of it and looked forward, with singing, dancing, onstage presence and production far better than any of his contemporaries.
The concert has even evolved since it first came through Philadelphia in November 2013. It was still a massive production, with an 11-member band, four backup singers and six dancers. And its size, especially early on, still sometimes overtook Timberlake’s performance — at the expense of his songs.
But – just four performances from the end of a tour that now has stretched 16 months — it seemed slightly less formulaic, as if it had found more room for Timberlake’s intrinsic talent to shine through.
For example, on the opening song, “Pusher Love Girl,” Timberlake – dressed in a dark suit and white shirt but with no tie and sneakers (a subtle statement of less formality?) and with a full beard– sang in high falsetto and danced like Fred Astaire.
But he also a one point simply stopped and stood, hands in pockets, as the crowd cheered and screamed.
“That’s how we feelin’ it in Philly tonight?” he asked, then finished with an even higher note.
(Speaking of audience reaction – it spoke volumes that nearly 15 years removed from ‘N Sync, Timberlake still prompted a female to throw a pair of panties on stage. But the married, reported father-to-be responded, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that, honey.”
The show equally sampled his four albums, which now have sold 12 million copies and produced 10 Top 10 hits and 11 songs that have gone gold or platinum (he sang them all). And not a single member of the crowd seemed to mind the set was substantially the same as his last show at Wells Fargo Center.
But some songs early in the show leaned too heavily on production and we drastically rearranged.
“Rock Your Body” from his solo debut disc was orchestral, and combined with a snippet of “Don’t Hold the Wall.” “Futuresex/Lovesounds” also was significantly different, slow and dirty, but both sensual and energetic.
“Like I Love You” also had a deeper groove, and by the time he started by rapping the lyrics of “My Love,” then sang it alone at the front of the stage in a spotlight, the show was on the verge of being too much a “show.”
But Timberlake pulled back at precisely the right time, taking off his jacket and teasing a cappella verses of “Summer Love” before doing a great version of that song and — on a red-lighted stage — an even better, funky version of “Lovestoned.” Its coda was gentle yet desperate at the same time, making it perhaps the best performance of the night.
Continuing with the more muted approach, he played “Until the End of Time” on a white grand piano at the front of the stage and, still alone, sang Jay Z’s “Holy Grail,” that segued right into a very good “Cry Me a River” that incorporated snippets of Nirvana’s “Entertain Us” and Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” to send the set.
After a 10-minute intermission, Timberlake opened his second set with a laser-filled big production on “Only When I Walk Away,” then stripped it down to him on acoustic guitar for “Drink You Away” before the band joined him, unplugged around the microphone for “Tunnel Vision.”
After a funky, loose and fun version of “Senorita,” with him standing at the keyboards, came the biggest production part of the show. The front third of the stage lifted high to become a walkway that moved slowly overhead of the crowd.
As it did, Timberlake danced atop it with his troupe and performed “Let the Groove In,” adding a snipped of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Shining Star” that clearly showed his influences. At the back of the arena, Timblerlake left the walkway to play Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel.”
As he did in the 2013 Wells Fargo show, Timberlake again showed he’s is no Elvis, but he committed himself well enough, and followed it with a great performance of “Not a Bad Thing,” also on acoustic guitar. It’s one of Timberlake’s best post-N Sync songs, and was one of the night’s best.
Timberlake’s voice was a far better fit for Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” – especially his falsetto – and it segued nicely into a stripped and stark “What Goes Around … Comes Around.”
The new “Take Back the Night” as the walkway moved back over the crowd also was one of the night’s best – fresh and funky.
The return trip of the elevated stage over the crowd started with another fun and funk song, “Take Back the Night,” followed by short versions of Cool and The Gang’s “Jungle Boogie,” the new “Murder” and Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” (which was written by former Allentown resident Elliot “Dr Freeze” Straite.)
During all of them, Timberlake danced enthusiastically, and the band was especially impressive on its new jack swing on the final song.
Timberlake closed the main part of the show with his double-platinum hit “Suit & Tie” – smooth and suave, just like his matured persona.
But he returned for a burning five-minute version of his biggest hit, the triple-platinum “SexyBack” (“I’m still runnin’ this bitch,” he said) and an eight-minute closing of “Mirrors’” at the end of which he dropped to his knees on stage.
Before the end of the show, Timberlake – referring to the near-decade lapse of time between his tours — told the crowd, “We’ll make sure it’s not seven years till we do this again.”
When Timberlake does decide to return, he’ll no doubt do it at the top, and with a show as good as the one he performed Wednesday.
Yay finally fixed the gallery issue, now just gotta fix the gallery 1…. one thing at a time!
Justin rocked the Barclays center on sunday for the second time this year. Guests included fellow calloborater and pop star Taylor swift.
I feel a little bit like a fly on the wall and like I’m listening to conversations I’m in no way a part of. But Justin Timberlake started it.
After he went to a Garth Brooks show on Thursday (Dec. 4) — the first of Brooks’ four St. Louis shows — Timberlake posted an Instagram photo from his meet-and-greet with this caption:
“One of my IDOLS. Garth … You are a MASTER of your craft. I am in awe of you, still.”
(And right after that, the people at Eskimo Joe’s — Stillwater, Oklahoma’s Jumpin’ Little Juke Joint Servin’ Up Smiles Since 1975 — retweeted Brooks’ tweet. Because if you look closely, he is wearing one of their hoodies in the photo.)
Timberlake, who has been a fan (and imitator) of Brooks since he was a little boy, was able to catch the show on one of his rare nights off. He had a show in Dallas on Wednesday and one in Oklahoma City on Friday.
And Timberlake created a pretty serious stir as he watched/sang/danced from the second row, as opposed to hiding away in a private box somewhere in the arena. Lady Gaga and her boyfriend, Chicago Fire star Taylor Kinney did the same thing, opting for regular seats in the house when they saw one of Brooks’ Chicago shows back in September.
There’s just so much mutual love and respect between Brooks and Timberlake. They seem to literally be people loving people, so I think they should collaborate on a song in the very near future.
And technically j is up for two
Congrats JT, Beyoncé and Pharrell! JT has received Two Grammy Nominations through his work with Beyoncé and Pharrell this past year! Queen B and Pharrell BOTH received a nomination for Album Of The Year, (BIGGGG CONGRATS!) and therefore Justin will recive Artist, Producer and Engineer Award if either of them win!
JT produced several tracks on Beyoncé and appears on Girl.
The 57th Grammy Awards take place Feb 8th, 2015. Stay tuned!
Last night fans of country legend Garth Brooks not only got to see the man in action but for the fans in the front area they also got to rub elbows with none other than JT!
Fans flocked to Instagram and Twitter about the special guest, some fans met him while others just enjoyed the fact he sang along to just about every song <3