Justin Timberlake @ Bell Centre – April 8, 2018

Despite the fact that I attend plenty of live shows I have to say that the sheer grandeur of the latest Justin Timberlake tour blew me away. Everything was big and top of the line. From the space covered by the stage to the laser light show to the screens that went up and down during the show. All big and yet at times he managed to make things seem quite intimate. The guy has been in the game for a long time and knows what his fans expect of him.

Everything was geared towards bringing fans the opportunity to be up and personal with the star. The main stage was smaller than the usual arena show, but that was because the walkway spanned the entire length of the standing area with a few smaller stages along the way. It was also completely open with only a few leafless trees (The Man of the Woods tour!) along the path. Because of the set up of the stage it gave everyone sitting around the venue a clear site line and a chance to see JT up close. Like a Broadway show everything technical was thought of to enhance the music and the fans’ experience.

Even though this was a “big” show there were some small moments. One was when he engaged in conversation a woman named Sue who was right by the long walkway who was celebrating her 70th birthday. He saluted her and seemed to appreciate that someone that age was at his show. Another preordained small moment was when Timberlake, his back up singers and some of the musicians sat down in a circle around a fire. Yes and actual fire appeared from within the stage. That section of the show was done acoustically and featured the back up singers each taking their turn as lead vocalists singing covers of songs like “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac and “Come Together” by The Beatles. Right before our eyes the country boy in a toque, flannel shirt and acoustic Gibson returned to his Tennessee roots.

The most successful parts of the evening were when he returned to his more familiar sound as the next Michael Jackson. He is most appreciated when he takes on the mantle of the Prince of Pop. His lyrics are not deep or even particularly memorable, but the man knows how to construct a hook. The fans showed their appreciation by getting up with the very first notes and not sitting down much until the end. The jam packed Bell Centre was fully into what was taking place from the get go. Several occasions during his two hour set the screams reached ear shattering decibels.

Speaking of the music that is really the reason we go to any concert. Timberlake is a smart guy and crowdpleaser. He knows what pays the bills so all the bigger hits of his career like “SexyBack”, “Senorita”, “Cry Me A River”, and “Rock Your Body” made their appearances much to everyone’s delight. The only downside is that at times I feel that he over relies on his back-up singers (there were 4 – 2 female, 2 male) and just danced around or held the microphone up in the air signalling the crowd to fill in the missing bits. Also, as it often typical of shows at the Bell Centre, the sound was often muffled with Timberlake’s vocals sometimes lost in all that was going on.

Opening act was Toronto born Francesco Yates (who performed on the smaller stage at the opposite end to the main one), he of the hit song “Sugar” by Robin Schulz. His set was short, about 30 minutes long, but punchy. Tossing around his huge blonde curls, Yates kept the energy high and seemed to be appreciated by those listening.

Setlist:

  1. Filthy
  2. Midnight Summer Jam
  3. LoveStoned
  4. SexyBack
  5. Man of the Woods
  6. Higher Higher
  7. Señorita
  8. Suit & Tie
  9. My Love
  10. Cry Me a River
  11. Mirrors
  12. Drink You Away
  13. Flannel
  14. Until the End of Time
  15. Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)
  16. Ex-Factor (Lauryn Hill cover)
  17. Come Together (The Beatles cover)
  18. Thank God I’m a Country Boy (John Denver cover)
  19. Morning Light
  20. What Goes Around… Comes Around
  21. Say Something
  22. Montana
  23. Summer Love
  24. Rock Your Body
  25. Supplies
  26. Like I Love You
  27. Can’t Stop the Feeling!

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