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By: Helen Lu
The audience did not need 20/20 vision to see Justin Timberlake’s dynamic talent Monday night at the Toyota Center.
Houston welcomed back Justin Timberlake for the second time on his 20/20 Experience tour with yet another sold out show. The giant honeycomb LED backdrop displayed a 15 second countdown filling the stadium with screams of anticipation.
Appearing in a single white spotlight was enough to introduce his electrifying presence. “Pusher Love Girl” started playing, and the lights go wild along with the crowd. Timberlake made sure to show off his dance skills, while he let the background singers and the Tennessee Kids keep the groove going.
His sleek black outfit with white sneakers and his backup dancers’ matching get ups highlighted their sharp, well-coordinated footwork even more. Timberlake’s suggestive dance moves got the most cheers in “Rock Your Body” while also revealing the impressive number of females who made up the majority of the crowd.
Timberlake was clearly a seasoned professional at incorporating audience participation. Asking for the audience to fill in during “My Love” revealed that Timberlake’s high falsetto was unattainable for most. The precision in his vocal harmonies made them harder to imitate.
Timberlake has become more than a master in blending multiple genres throughout his career. “LoveStoned”’s electronica influences were appropriately accompanied by a backdrop of computer-generated mountainous terrain. The cool R&B piano melody in “Until the End of Time” flows into a rap beat in “Holy Grail” and to a climax in pop song “Cry Me A River.”
After a ten minute intermission, Timberlake comes back in a more talkative mood.
“I’m having a great time. You look real good tonight, Houston. Are you drinking out there? It’s very important. The more you drink the better it’ll sound . . . This is a song for you about alcohol,” Timberlake said.
“Drink You Away” was a slower melody that let some of the crowd sit down.
Using the stair steps on either side of the stage, Timberlake gained access to the front corners of the stadium. The backside, where fans were sitting, expecting to be neglected, was in for a grand surprise. The stage lifted and traveled across the stadium above thousands of screaming fans, and the technical team proves that they deserve an award. Timberlake reaches up to sing to the high seats, making sure that he spreads the love.
The VIP Lounge set up in the back of the floor area reveals its ingenious purpose as a dock for the moving platform. Timberlake walks down, shakes hands with VIPs, and just to loosen up even more, takes a shot of tequila, perhaps reminding the crowd of his own tequila line, Sauza 901.
Timberlake climbs up a step to a small B-stage and picks up a guitar, automatically giving the concert a more personal warmth, aided by the fact that Timberlake’s body heat was quite literally much closer to audience-level.
“I hail from Memphis, Tennessee . . . Here’s to Elvis Presley, King of Rock and Roll,” Timberlake said.
The cover of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” and Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” were tinted with Timberlake’s own flair. “Suit & Tie” brought back the party onto the large stage, while “SexyBack” incited deafening screams. “Mirrors” was a smooth ending to an unforgettable night.
Timberlake brought endless energy, proving once again that he deserves his spot as a timeless star.
Photos by Shivani Raman