Sexy has officially been brought back to Orange County.
On Tuesday, Jan. 9, Anaheim was the location of Justin Timberlake’s ‘FutureSex/LoveShow.’ With the show running late due to technical difficulties, the anticipation was overwhelming as people filled every seat in the 16,000-seat Honda Center.
As is evident from the lyrics of his sophomore album, Timberlake has definitely grown up. The pre-teen girls who once held signs saying, ‘I heart ‘N Sync and Justin’ have made way for pumps, short skirts and liquor. That’s not to say that the concert did not attract a variety of individuals, from 13-year-olds chatting eagerly on their phones to older married couples. But with alcoholic beverages sold at every entrance and a bar attached to the stage, the target audience seemed to be the drunk girls who danced excitedly during every song.
Although most audience members came for Timberlake, the opening act, P!nk, was able to capture the crowd and gave a surprisingly entertaining performance. The perks of having a relatively big name opening for Timberlake clearly counted toward the success of the concert.
With a simple concert layout and minimal backup dancers, P!nk delivered a performance that entertained the crowd with songs reminiscent of high school dances. She exhausted the crowd with her onstage performance and enthusiasm, ending her set with mid-air acrobatics to ‘Get this Party Started.’
For Timberlake, the stage was transformed to reveal its true grandeur as he rose from beneath it to ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds.’ The special effects complemented the cutting-edge sound. Just as ‘SexyBack’ proved to be initially unsettling to many, the round nets in front of Timberlake took a little getting used to. Despite their attempt at providing a unique view of Timberlake, the nets made it difficult to see the performer and became another reminder of the separation that existed between him and the audience. The random movement of instruments also forced the audience to spend a majority of the night playing ‘Where’s Waldo?’
Timberlake’s performance, on the other hand, was everything we have come to expect from the artist. Performances of songs off of his newest album were coupled with suave choreography and Timberlake’s ‘beatboxing.’ A surprise thrown into the mix was his interaction with different instruments including guitar, piano and even keytar.
The first part of the show had additional surprises in store for the crowd. Two songs into the set, Timberlake took a shot with the band, toasting to the city of Anaheim. During the hard beats of ‘Chop Me Up’ guest star Timbaland was introduced to an excited audience. Timbaland performed during intermission, mixing a compilation of songs from various artists like Kelly Clarkson and The Fray. This eventually culminated with a sneak peak of his upcoming album, which has an unsettling vibe similar to that of ‘SexyBack’ during its debut.
While the first half of the concert turned the Honda Center into a massive dance club, the second half showcased Timberlake’s softer, more romantic side. Though not the Andrea Bocelli of our generation, Timberlake wooed the crowd with his characteristic falsetto voice and love ballads off of his new album.
Included in his set was a tribute to the songs that Timberlake said ‘got [him] to where he is now,’ including ‘N Sync favorites ‘Gone’ and ‘Take It From Here’ from ‘Justified.’ Meanwhile, he continued to pump up the crowd with high-energy favorites like ‘Cry Me a River’ and ‘Damn Girl,’ sending us all on a very entertaining musical roller coaster.
One of the high points of the evening was his performance of ‘What Goes Around,’ his newest single, in which Timberlake used a handheld camera to deliver close-ups of his expressions during the edgier part of the song (think Blair Witch Project, but hot).
His final performance of ‘SexyBack’ brought Timbaland back on stage and the two drove the entire crowd crazy.
But the cherry on top was his encore performance. With the final notes of ‘SexyBack’ echoing in our ears, a piano was brought out and a single spotlight placed on stage.
At that point Timberlake simply walked on stage, with no back-up dancers or intricate lasers, and performed an endearing rendition of ‘All Over Again,’ which he declared to be a tribute to all of his fans.
While there are no more chances to catch the tour in California, Timberlake has scheduled tour dates around the United States and in Europe until July.
Any lingering thoughts that Timberlake is riding on the success of his smoldering looks or his ‘N Sync years can be demolished. This boy band pop star has become his own man.