Honda Center Anaheim
I went to the Church of Justin last night. His sanctuary? The Honda Center. And his followers — guys dressed in their suits and ties, women in classy cocktail dresses, teenagers seeking redemption from Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus — were not disappointed.
Timberlake entered the stage — a futuristic, white honeycomb backdrop that projected images — decked out in a sleek, three-piece suit with a bow-tie and white shoes with black trim, was the high priest of sexy. (And really, we all have to admit that sexy never left JT.) Despite the SNL overexposure, his sophisticated style and smooth dance moves onstage make you forget that he ever had a boy band persona.
He belted out song after song with ease, opening with “Pusher Love Girl.” It's hard not to use cliches when describing Timberlake's voice, but the truth is, his voice was like butter and made me melt. It had a tremendous evangelizing effect; as the audience started to get the Timberlake spirit in them, everyone was standing up and dancing.
“It's going to be a hot one tonight, Anaheim…Right now it's an 8.5 and I wanna turn it up to a 10!” he proclaimed. And he wasn't just the consummate showman; he played the piano, he got on the guitar. None of his versatile musical talents, however, didn't get quite the same reaction as taking off his jacket and unbuttoning his vest (at “Strawberry Bubblegum”).
The show, which started a little past 9 p.m., lasted for three hours. Being in Anaheim brought back memories of Disneyland and working for the Mouse. “The pay was shitty,” he said, but that was another story! Accompanied by the Tenessee Kids — four background singers and six back-up dancers — the concert had the feel of a theater show, especially because of a 10-minute intermission. (Justin said he needed it because he was getting old, despite the fact that the energy he brought to his performance made it seem like he was his teenage self!)
His setlist was a good reminder to his fans that he had a pretty hefty catalog; many hits from FutureSex/LoveSounds and Justified were interspersed with new songs from The 20/20 Experience. But there were also surprising covers of songs by Elvis, Bell Biv Devoe. (There was also the not-surprising tribute to Michael Jackson.)
It was also Timberlake's chance to prove to everyone that he was, in fact, worthy of an arena show. The coolest part of the night was during “Take Back the Night,” in the second act, when the front part of the stage levitated moved from the front of the Honda Center to the back, doubling Timberlake's space and giving fans from all vantage points a chance to be that much closer to his sexiness. It was an amazing sight.
That stage formation brought concert going to another level, and with that, the concert truly was a 20/20 experience. And despite the gimmickry, nothing about it was too showy or over the top. It was all about his voice and persona.
Critic's Bias: I love anything JT does.
The Crowd: People in their 30s and 40s — seems like JT's fanbase grew up with him.
Overheard in the Crowd: In a group of older women, to one of their friends: “Did you have a nice nap?” Obviously the three-hour show was tiring for some!
Random notebook dump: There was also a guy across the aisle from me twerking the night away. At least he really enjoyed the show!
— With Melbert Sebayan
Pusher Love Girl
Gimme What I Don't Know (I Want)
Rock Your Body
Don't Hold The Wall
Like I Love You
Until the End of Time
Cry Me a River
Only When I Walk Away
Drink You Away
Let the Groove Get In
Not A Bad Thing
What Goes Around Comes Around
Take Back the Night
Suit N Tie