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Concert Reviews:
Justin Timberlake Makes "LoveSounds" At Joe Louis Arena

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, March 11, 2007

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DETROIT -- There was something appropriate about Justin Timberlake bringing his "FutureSex/LoveSounds" tour to Joe Louis Arena on Saturday night (March 10) while Autorama was going on next door at Cobo Hall.

Motion was the key ingredient to the boy band star turned singing/songwriting/acting whiz's nearly two-and-a-half hour spectacle. Taking an acknowledged lead from vintage Jackson (Michael and Janet) stage shows, Timberlake worked all the angles of his multi-level, center-arena stage, motoring from ramp to ramp, playing keyboards and guitar, spinning with his nine dancers in tightly choreographed ensemble routines.

Even when Timberlake was sitting still on a piano bench before the shy-of-capacity crowd, the instrument was turning around on a rotating disc.

The 19-song show moved well, too. It was perhaps a bit long, but you'd be hard-pressed to take anything out because the individual performances were so solid. Following a hit-filled performance by opener Pink, Timberlake -- wearing suit and tie with white tennis shoes -- emerged amidst a cacophony of taped noise with the "FutureSex..." title track, moving quickly into a rocking take of "Like I Love You" and then the Grammy-winning "My Love," complete with body-rocking dance moves. For "Senorita," he rolled up his sleeves and huddled in the middle of his band, sending a message that he may be a scream-inducing pop star but he's a musician, too, jack.

In fact, Timberlake has fully shed the vestiges of his *NSYNC days. He's now a sophisticated modern soul man, able to tuck into yearning slower fare such as "Until the End of Time" and banging club joints like "Sexy Ladies," "Damn Girl," "Chop Me Up" and "SexyBack," along with epic renditions of the airy "What Goes Around," "Losing My Way" -- with string players and a gospel choir projected onto portable fabric scrims surrounding the stage -- and his kiss-off to onetime girlfriend Britney Spears, "Cry Me a River."

Heck, he even took some shots with his band members before "Senorita," allowing one of his keyboard players, who hails from Detroit, to offer a "313 for life!" toast. And his pop ballad medley that included *NSYNC's "Gone" seemed like a charming remembrance amidst its more contemporary sonic company.

The night took on a bit of extra energy as special guest Timbaland's (Tim Mosley) 36th birthday. The producer joined Timberlake for "Chop Me Up" and "SexyBack" -- during which Timberlake led the crowd in singing happy birthday -- and offered a 15-minute "intermission" DJ set weaving together bits of his work with Nelly Furtado, Missy Elliott and others, offering a tribute the late Aaliyah and playing "Give it to Me," the first single from his upcoming album "Shock Value."

It was, without question, a well-scripted affair, its ebb and flow carefully plotted and executed. But it worked to a T -- or, if you prefer, a JT -- deserving all the "LoveSounds" Timberlake basked in throughout the night.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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