Gig review by Toni Woodward with gig photography by Bianca Barrett

Justin Timberlake at the LG Arena, Birmingham, UK - 11th April 2014

You expect a Justin Timberlake show to be an epic event and considering the stage alone costs £6 million it is not surprising that ticket prices are so high. As the lights dim on a capacity crowd at the LG Arena, anticipation is running high and so is the volume of the female fans. Silhouettes of violin players are projected onto the massive honeycomb screen and Mr Timberlake rises up in a white dinner jacket with slicked back hair, looking incredibly dapper as if he has stepped out of the Luhrmann interpretation of The Great Gatsby.

Justin Timberlake at the LG Arena, Birmingham, UK - 11th April 2014

As Pusher Love Girl proceeds, a vast number of musicians are elevated on to the stage including a brass section, a drummer and a percussionist. He schmoozes the crowd with ease using his trademark Jackson inspired dance moves to cover the whole stage including stairs which extend well into the sides of the auditorium. Rock With Me increases the audience volume to an unbelievable level and sees JT, accompanied by various dancers, execute a well-rehearsed routine.

Justin Timberlake at the LG Arena, Birmingham, UK - 11th April 2014

Vocally, Timberlake is strong and has the capacity to reach a high register which is demonstrated through the majority of his songs. As the first half continues, songs segue seamlessly including Future Sex/Love Sounds into Like I Love You which emphasises Justin’s ability to produce immensely catchy pop songs. After TKO, he removes his jacket and finally addresses the crowd being incredibly proud of his correct pronunciation of Birmingham whilst commenting on the weekend attire of many of the females in the audience. Until The End Of Time sees Justin take to a gleaming white grand piano and cheesily calls for lighters or mobile phones to be held aloft to which the audience happily oblige. The first half draws to a close with a powerful rendition of Cry Me A River as the instrumentation creates a real depth of sound which supports Timberlake’s high vocal range that develops as the song gathers intensity.

Justin Timberlake at the LG Arena, Birmingham, UK - 11th April 2014

After a ten minute interval, the stage is darkened for Only When I Walk Away. Whilst lasers fly around the arena Timberlake reappears dressed all in black with an undone bow tie round his neck, looking as fresh as at the start. He strolls to the front of the stage, dons an acoustic guitar and converses with audience again about their alcohol consumption and encouraging more people to appreciate that it is a Friday night before embarking on Drink You Away.

Justin Timberlake at the LG Arena, Birmingham, UK - 11th April 2014

The playing of instruments doesn’t stop there for JT, as he takes to an upright piano for the riff of Señorita which is greeted with a warm welcome by all. The main event of the show is about to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting crowd. During Let The Groove In, the front panel of the stage is elevated and then begins to move, transporting Justin and his dancers over those seated in the stalls and at eye level of the rest of us in the blocks. Admittedly, this is an impressive feat equivalent to Tommy Lee’s drum riser or Kiss’s various antics, especially as Timberlake confidently runs and dances the length of the platform ensuring he connects with as much of the audience as possible. The platform comes to rest and Justin descends on to a small stage situated two thirds of the way back in the arena, and from here he pays his respects to Elvis with Heartbreak Hotel and Michael Jackson with an abbreviated version of Human Nature.

Justin Timberlake at the LG Arena, Birmingham, UK - 11th April 2014

He completes this segment with probably the best song of the night, What Goes Around… Comes Around. Timberlake returns to playing acoustic guitar and demonstrating emotion and dynamism through his vocal performance which powers through the arena. All the performers return up the stairs to the moving platform and it reverses the length of the arena during Take Back The Night as JT and his dancers continue with their polished routines including sitting on the edges of platform as they extend over the auditorium. The backing band, Tennessee Kids, come into their own at this point, through the covers of Jungle Boogie and Poison, demonstrating the array of musicianship they have brought to the proceedings which have truly uplifted the show.

Justin Timberlake at the LG Arena, Birmingham, UK - 11th April 2014

The set draws to a close with SexyBack and Mirrors, completing a concert that has embraced the extent of Justin Timberlake’s career. It truly is an event and, for any JT fan, the ultimate experience as it incorporated his precise dance moves, soulful songs and an elaborate stage that meant every one of the audience felt involved. Whether I would have paid the £100 plus for a ticket is questionable but then again I am not a Justin Timberlake fan; yet from the screams of delights throughout the show I am sure the majority of fans felt they got value for money.

Justin Timberlake at the LG Arena, Birmingham, UK - 11th April 2014

Setlist – First Set: Pusher Love Girl / Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want) / Rock Your Body / FutureSex/LoveSound / Like I Love You / My Love / TKO / Summer Love / LoveStoned / Until the End of Time / Holy Grail – Jay Z cover / Cry Me a River Second Set: Only When I Walk Away / Drink You Away / Tunnel Vision / Señorita / Let the Groove Get In / Heartbreak Hotel – Elvis Presley cover / Not a Bad Thing / Human Nature – Michael Jackson cover / What Goes Around… Comes Around / Take Back the Night / Jungle Boogie – Kool & The Gang cover / Murder / Poison – Bell Biv DeVoe cover / Suit & Tie / SexyBack / Mirrors

Justin Timberlake at the LG Arena, Birmingham, UK - 11th April 2014

3 Responses to “Justin Timberlake at the LG Arena, Birmingham, UK – 11th April 2014”

  1. riley Says:

    I’m not sure why someone who was not a fan of Justin Timberlake would be sent to review a Justin Timberlake concert. This was the best concert I’ve ever seen and since I’m almost 40 I’ve seen a lot. Your review was bland and should have been written better.

  2. Wayne Fox Says:

    Holy shit guys, is it getting hot in here?!

  3. Toni Says:

    Reviews are subjective and the majority of music journalists review a vast range of music and live events, not just those they are fans of. Clearly my experience of the Timberlake concert differed from yours but that is the nature of being unique individuals.

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