Gig Review by Sophie Jones

Arriving at The Arena Birmingham there were queues and confusion all over the place; I quickly discovered that this was the result of a well-known ticket vendor having a hiccup resulting in long queues and ID checks at the box office, but this didn’t dampen the spirits of the eager fans waiting to get inside for Justin Timberlake.

Justin Timberlake "The Man Of The Woods" Tour Opener - Toronto

Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur

Once inside and seated you could see the enormous ’S’ shaped stage that covered the entire arena floor, accompanied by fake trees dotted along the way and right at the end of stage there was an area covered in long grass. From start to finish there was projected footage of the forest and sky themes. Halfway through they even set up a campfire, with a real fire on stage surrounded by tree log stools and a good old sing-a-long.

Justin opened up with his debut track ‘Filthy’ from his latest record ‘Man of the Woods’ which set the tone for a night of big dance routines and an amazing laser light show. For the next few hours Justin and the Tennessee Kids (his band) ploughed through each track effortlessly without pausing for a break; and these were big dance numbers working all parts of the ‘S’ shape stage, how was he not tired already?

A broken down piano version of ‘Señorita’ filled the arena before two of the drummers from the band went into drum solos, this gave just enough time for Justin to change into his ‘Suit and Tie’ which was visually specular to watch, the laser lights danced and moved in accordance with Justin’s movements. Now this was were Justin took a breather and started a Mexican wave of cheers across the room, everyone was so spot on with their timing Justin said “Next time I’m in London, I’m going to tell them Birmingham is mother f**king better” before dropping the mic for effect.

Justin played a bunch of classic hits throughout his set and just as every intro played, the crowd would erupt for Justin to follow with “Oh you know this one?”

As the night was drawing closer to a close Justin and the Tennessee Kids took centre stage in the middle of the crowd and as the band joined him one by one Justin took a brief moment to speak with his fans telling them “Tell all the other Americans that come and tour here it’s Birmingham not Burmingham” to which the crowd erupted with laughter and cheers for Justin to follow up with “Can I get some credit for that?” He continued to say let’s celebrate as he and the rest of his team got a shot from the VIP bar that surrounded the centre stage and stated “If you don’t have a drink or a shot get one quickly, because the more your drink the better I sound” before hitting the shot back and going onto to play ‘Drink You Away’ which he played on his acoustic guitar.

Justin ended the night with ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling!’ which had everyone dancing and buzzing from the energy of the night. It even seemed like Justin didn’t want to leave as all his band members had left the stage and he just stood there centre stage saying goodbye and thanks over and over as the lights dimmed out and he eventually disappeared.

Set list:
Midnight Summer Jam
Love Stoned
Sexy Back
Man Of The Woods
Higher Higher
Suit & Tie
Soul Mate
My Love
Cry Me A River
Drink You Away
Until The End Of Time
Morning Light
What Goes Around… Comes Around
Say Something
Summer Love
Rock Your Body
Like I Love you
Can’t Stop The Feeling!

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