Monday, May 11, 2009

Finding His Way

This post was a review of Justin Timberlake's 2007 concert here in Dublin. Over the years I have seen several memorable concerts in Dublin's RDS. I have seen Prince and Michael Jackson there in the 1990's and seeing Justin Timberlake at the same venue, well, he had elements of both artists.
Queuing outside the high walls of the venue I heard the support act starting up early, I had assumed it was going to be producer Timbaland doing a DJ set but no it was Fergie. The opening notes of her debut solo single London Bridge sounding poptastic. On entering the venue myself and my fellow pop fans, Connell and Joelle, were delighted to see it was to be a concert in the round, we had a very comfortable standing spot for the whole evening. The sky was blue throughout and as we have had rainy days in Ireland for the past few weeks this was a huge added bonus. While I love many pop acts I have never liked The Black Eyed Peas, maybe it was the silly name or the fact Where is the Love was never off the radio when it was a hit. Fergie, whom I had often dismissed as a cheap and trashy was in reality a real proper popstar, wearing a tiny top, tiny glittery skirt and yellow and black knee socks she looked, well, fergalicious! The songs she sang included the singles Glamourous, Big Girls don't Cry (currently number 3 in the U.S. Billboard charts) and The Black Eyed Peas, My Humps. During her set I thought she was singing a song about her Mary Jane shoes and indeed she was when I looked up the track listing of her album later, it is v good too! Sadly she went out on a muted note singing the "slow tune" Finally she was gone, no encore but Ms Stacy Ann Ferguson, overall, you was good girl! The wait wasn't long until Justin came on stage. The set was a large circular stage with steps down two sides, alas not where we stood, the band were all very familiar looking, in fact it was going back to the time of The Revolution, New Power Generation, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and indeed The Time and that is where one of the many Prince comparisons come in. But Justin is a complete and utter star in his own right. What was good about the day was that on the strength of two hugely successful solo albums nearly all the audience knew his music catalogue really well. The show began with the song that opens the album, the title track, Futuresex/Lovesounds. Of course there was the usual bevy of dancers, who were a bit too CD:UK, but for me the best dancers were his four backing singers, because of the r'n'b, almost pop-gospel style of his music they were ideal for this tour especially on the gorgeous version of Losing my Way and Cry me a River. The audience were mainly in their mid 20's and lots my age, hooray! but there were also several gangs of teenagers who sadly felt the need to ole! ole! ole! every now and again which Justin wisely ignored. He did go into "hello Dublin" overdrive and at one point had a tray of Guinness delivered to raise a toast to the crowd. Justin Timberlake is pure smooth. He looked flawlessly dressed in smart shirt, tie and expensive suit but with white trainers, of course. This was not a big spectacle of a show, there was a Close Encounters style lighting rig which never did much overall. The sound though was excellent, the beautiful jittery opening notes of My Love cut through the stadium grounds with thousands singing along. It was actually going in the direction of one of the best concerts I had seen, What goes around..comes around was performed brilliantly and then, well, Justin took a break midway, maybe to finish that Guinness, who knows. Timbaland came on set and played a pot pourri mix of videos and remixes he has done, so we watched on the giant video screens, a montage of Nelly Furtado, Missy, Aaliyah and then Justin and Nelly and Timbaland all together on the recent number one Give it to me. This was, as my friend Connell said, the ideal moment for Justin to come back but nope, didn't happen. It was all a bit messy and a shame as Timbaland is the greatest pop/r'n'b producer at the moment. If he had done a set before or even after Fergie it would have worked much better, instead it made the main act disjointed. However, it didn't take Justin long to get the crowd back to normal. Lovestoned was wonderful and also included was my favourite part of the song I think she knows. The only N'Sync song he sang was Gone but as part of a three slow song set it was a bit slow overload. Cry me a River was the moment for me when you hear an artist sing a song you love and wait to hear. Throughout Justin left a lot of his famous dance moves to his dancers but when he danced, especially during Like I Love you, Sexyback and My Love he was as good as seeing him on the MTV music awards or music videos. He also played the piano, keyboards, the keyboards around his neck, multi-tasking as Connell said. There were no surprises during his set, no cover versions or moments like when he sang Rehab during another tour date changing the words to "they tried to make her go to rehab, she said no, no, no". Hmmm, I wonder who that could be about! Justin is well aware of his audience, he is a teen idol grown up, slightly reinvented who has successfully mixed pop with the hit success that r'n'b provides, especially in the U.S. market. The closing song was, of course, Sexyback, overall it was really a good fun, night out. I was so glad I went to this concert, the past few days have not been good ones for me but I felt fine during the whole evening and if Connell and Joelle do read this, I couldn't have asked for better pop concert company, thank you both.
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