Published in The Music (WA) | 15.10.14 | Issue # 60
Published on theMusic.com.au 09.10.14
Justin Timberlake @ Perth Arena. Pic by Ashley Westwood
In an effort to no doubt get to know the locals – much like he had on Monday night at Perth nightclub Deville’s Pad – two members of Justin Timberlake’s entourage trolled through the audience with microphones, singling punters out and taking them to who knows where. As they slowly swept across the room, clusters of fans jumped on their seats, thrusting their arms into the air.
Tensions were high, and the moment of truth finally arose with anticipation at its peak – much like that scene in JT’s blockbuster film, In Time, where he fails to save his mother. The Grammy Award-winning, GQ Man Of The Year surfaced for the beginning of 20/20. In hindsight, earplugs may have been a good idea.
An expected theatrical entrance to Pusher Love Girl off last year’s The 20/20 Experience saw the pop legend rise from below the stage to the silhouette of a string section. His band, The Tennessee Kids, were also thrust into the spotlight from below, and thus began the pitch perfect vocals backed by an overwhelming mash of smooth, classy harmonies. A brief 30-second break to soak up applause, which would have gone for minutes if the music hadn’t continued, and backing dancers arrived for Rock Your Body. Massive white hexagons consumed the stage background and overlooked the audience, switching between projector screens and an insane light show. Futuresex/Lovesound, Like I Love To Breatheand more were delivered with little time to breathe, climaxing in early favourite, My Love, with screeching solos, mesmerising choreographed dance moves and a massive horns-led transition into TKO. It was like being smacked in the face by the best pop had to offer and coming out refreshed.
Finally the music receded for a minute, and no one has ever received such a violent applause for simply taking off their jacket like JT did. “Fuck it, let’s party!” he announced, as he led us into Summer Love, shortly after which he was left to his own devices for LoveStoned/I Think She Knows Interlude, before really stripping things back as he perched himself behind for a piano for Until The End Of Time. Some took a cover of Jay-Z’s Holy Grail, on the studio version of which JT features, as an invitation to literally remove their clothes, and an a cappella Happy Birthday to one lucky punter resulted in tears of joy and a perfect segue into Drink You Away, with Timberlake sporting an acoustic guitar. The night reached its peak when a chunk of the stage hosting two protruding stairways rose and slid above the audience, slowly edging towards the back of the room, where he climbed down into the VIP area and stayed for the most of the remaining set, making those pricey VIP passes worth the asking price.
Classics Crazy Girl, SexyBack and Mirrors that, much like JT, don’t seem to age, and a cover of Michael Jackson’s Human Nature cemented the show as one of the year’s best before the legend disappeared into the shadows, probably to not be let into his own after party.