There is a difference between a "rock star" and a "superstar," and Justin Timberlake is a superstar. He'd been a rock star since his years with 'N Sync touring the world and selling millions of albums. But now, in his early 30s, with decades experience performing his own catalog of self-written hit songs, and the swagger that goes along with all that, he is quite obviously in his prime.
The second stop of his 20/20 Experience World Tour went through Glendale's Jobing.com Arena on Saturday night, and he demonstrated what a superstar in their prime is capable of by putting on two-hour musical spectacular complete with choreographed dance numbers, lasers, and a 15-piece band, The Tennessee Kids. He also showed that being a superstar in 2014 is hard work.
It was the second time in less than a year he brought this particular show through Phoenix, and though I didn't see the first one, I can't imagine it had anymore zeal than this one. The guy is just a fabulous showman.
Way back in the day Frank Sinatra got on stage half-drunk, sang some songs, made some jokes, and went back to the casino. But now to be a bonafide superstar you've got to sing, dance, play the piano and guitar, tell jokes, make magic happen, and apparently never sweat while doing it. Seriously, the guy's brow was as dry as the desert during the entire concert.
Sometimes, the difference between a rock star and a superstar can be quite subtle, little mannerisms that really have more to do with a performer's comfort level on stage than anything else. In the case of Justin Timberlake, he is on a whole different wavelength than your average rock star.
Rock stars go into the crowd to let the "babes" get a chance to cop a feel, superstars let the 40-year-old man in section 105 grab hold for about eight seconds, three different times (definite shout out to that guy). Rock stars go home with "hot chicks," while superstars marry everyone's dream girl. J.T. married Jessica Biel in 2012. For rock stars it's always about the cool factor and sending people home feeling like they were in the presence of something cool. For superstars, it is about the connection and sending people home feeling like they were a part of something spectacular. J.T. and The Tennessee Kids definitely created the latter sort of experience.
Of course, creating that experience becomes a little easier when a musician can afford giant rolling runways to carry them to the back of the arena, and said runway is also high enough that they can say hello to the audience members in the 200 level seats. But astonishing stage show aside, the guy has charisma.
As spectacular as his singing and dancing is, and he is seriously the best dancer I've ever scene in person. What separates him is the way he interacts with the audience. He definitely brought out some of the old cliches like shouting the name of the city and state a bunch of times, a "go shawty it's your birthday," and the ever more popular "turn up."
But he also stopped and had a short conversation with a group of young girls ranging from the ages of eight to 12, took an "selfie" with an audience members phone, jokingly told a male fan who complimented his looks to "go to the preseason game right now," and just generally addressed the crowd more as friends than as an audience. He even had a waiter in the VIP section bring him a shot so he could share a toast with the entire room.
He sang his hit, he sang snippets of some covers like "Jungle Boogie," "Holy Grail," "Poison," and "Human Nature," he even sang all of "Heartbreak Hotel," while playing acoustic guitar.
See next page for more photos, Critic's Notebook, and set list.
Saturday, August 9: J.T. and the Tennessee Kids at Jobing.com Arena
Set list Pusher Love Girl Gimme What I Don't Know (I Want) Rock Your Body Don't Hold the Wall FutureSex/LoveSound Like I Love You My Love TKO Summer Love LoveStoned Until the End of Time Holy Grail Cry Me a River Only When I Walk Away Drink You Away Tunnel Vision Señorita Let the Groove Get In Heartbreak Hotel That Girl Not a Bad Thing Human Nature What Goes Around... Comes Around Take Back the Night Jungle Boogie Murder Poison Suit & Tie SexyBack Mirrors
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