Review and photographs by Kirsten Ferguson
Maybe it was seeing Justin Timberlake so soon after Paul McCartney, who had electrified the sold-out Times Union Center crowd 11 days earlier with three emotionally powerful hours of Beatles, Wings and solo songs.
But something about the first portion of Justin Timberlake’s sold-out show at the Times Union Center just felt flat, even though the devoted JT fans who filled the arena were primed to scream every time the pop heartthrob glanced out into the audience or busted a flashy dance move. Yes, it was an estrogen fest.
The show started with Timberlake and his army of musicians, singer and dancers rising up from underneath the stage — in front of JT markers that looked like gravestones — for the soulful first number, “Pusher Love Girl,” the opening track from the singer’s latest release, The 20/20 Experience.
Although he followed with “Rock Your Body” and “My Love” — two surefire club hits — they both felt surprisingly lethargic. A too-dark stage set maybe, or an arena show performed too many times without variation. Or maybe Timberlake’s slickness just felt less than genuine after having seen McCartney, who sang “The Long and Winding Road” with heart-choking emotion, as if he wrote it yesterday. Totally unfair comparison, I know.
The show did pick up right before the intermission, during the light-hearted “Summer Love” and the love ballad “Until the End of Time,” the latter featuring Timberlake at a white grand piano on the lip of the stage, as the arena lit up in a sea of cellphones.