[14 July 2014]
Justin Timberlake is in the middle of a huge sold-out arena tour yet he took the time to perform a more “intimate” show at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom for a corporate sponsor, Mastercard. Or it could have been American Airlines who had a larger promotional presence on site, but I don’t think I heard Timberlake give them props during his show. Just the credit card. In any case, the exclusivity made this the hot event of the night for New Yorkers even if it wasn’t the hot event of the week. There were several large concerts going on in the NYC area over several (other) nights including Katy Perry across the street at the Garden and Beyoncé and Jay-Z with two nights at the Meadowlands (Hova did not grace JT’s set unfortunately).
As could be expected from the multi-talented performer, Timberlake’s showmanship was top notch the entire night. With a large backing band, who also shared in some dancing duties, a huge laser and light show and his hat, the man dazzled the audience for a generous amount of time performing a multitude of hits and a couple of covers. One cover was a surprise, Ray LaMontagne’s “Jolene” but the other Sinatra’s “New York, New York” was less so since the pre-show music was Sinatra’s “My Way”.
Amidst the spectacle were some great songs but the show felt more like a party mix, though it did hold together well as the songs were reframed for a large band. I enjoyed many of the songs early in the set, particularly “LoveStoned”, I didn’t really need to hear “Jolene”. I had hoped to see how the band would handle the more challenging “Let the Groove Get in” but that wasn’t performed.
Timberlake occasionally chatted with a few folks in the front, one of whom confessed she slept on the street to ensure a spot in the front of the general admission floor. He also asked the crowd if they loved him and at one point a woman threw him her panties, so clearly at least she did.
It wasn’t until after the stirring “New York, New York” that JT hammered the show home with a killer finale. The groove took hold with the fresh and suave “Suit & Tie”, the still futuristic sounding “Sexyback” and the powerful sing-along “Mirrors”. Timberlake is certainly at the top of his game and this was a great conclusion to a fun pop performance that I admit had me singing along.
Only When I Walk Away
Gimmie What I Don’t Know I Want
Rock Your Body
Don’t Hold The Wall (intro) / FutureSex/LoveSound
Like I Love You / My Love
Until The End of Time
Holy Grail / Cry Me A River
Shake Your Body
Not A Bad Thing
Jolene (Ray LaMontagne)
What Goes Around
New York, New York
Suit & Tie