Justin Timberlake - Man of the Woods Tour
Opening acts: Francesco Yates, DJs
Date Seen: February 6, 2019
Cost of Ticket: $150
The first time I saw Justin Timberlake in concert was in San Jose in 2007. He had cancelled the concert and rescheduled. Eleven years later, he cancelled and rescheduled his Edmonton concert. Coincidence? Mmm…
But let’s focus on the show. We skipped the 90 minutes of djs and warm up acts. Justin finally came onto the stage around 9:10pm (100 minutes from concert start). Considering the doors opened at 630pm and floor tickets were standing only, that would have been 4.5 hours standing on concrete.
Timberlake’s album and concert are named after his son Silas, who’s name means ‘Man of the Forest.’ Justin claims that “this album is really inspired by my son, my wife, my family, but more so than any album I've ever written–where I'm from." Knowing that, it seems unusual to release the first single and kick-off the concert with the sexually fuelled song “Filthy.” Mmmmkay. Even more sad, the opening was lacklustre. Timberlake’s massive meandering stage with faux trees and retractable scrims weren't enough to distract for the first two songs. Finally, Justin gets the crowd on his side with hits “LoveStoned” and “SexyBack.” While JT only sings about 1/3 of any song, he tries his best to keep up with his backup dancers. Ten years ago, JT commanded the stage with his liquid-like moves. Yesterday, the dad was outmatched by his troupe of 6 dancers.
At this point of the concert, the crowd has forgiven JT for the start and is enjoying the danceable mixes of his decade old hits. And then he de-rails the entire show with the song "Man of the Woods." My friend turned to me and said “Are you freakin’ serious.” The aged pop star went from his steamy “ SexyBack" to a song that sounds like it belongs in a low-budget-made-for-tv children’s movie about the great outdoors. It was laughable…and again...sad. My other friend tried to find a silver-lining and noted that “at least all his music doesn’t sound the same.” And she was right - the music throughout the show did have different sounds. The problem was that they did not transition well. Furthermore, JT didn’t seem to know his audience. No one attended the show to hear him sing pop, electro, funk, country, soul, reggae and songs for Trolls. A lot of artists have chosen to take a country detour on their recent albums. I think of Kylie Minogue who packed her Aussie-self up and went to Nashville and recorded her album Golden. While the album had a western sound, it was also authentically Kylie. You could tell she considered her fans when she recorded it. Timberlake’s departure from his pop roots doesn’t do the same. It’s like he lost his way and we found him drunk in sad honky tonk with Toby Keith playing in the background.
There were a few decent moments. “Cry Me a River” seemed filled with the right amount of edge and angst. The visuals projected on the scrims worked well and for me, this was the best of the show. “Mirrors” and “SummerLove” also reminded me why I liked JT in the first place. The retractable scrims provided makeshift screens that were occasionally used to accentuate the music (but all too often just showed a variety of trees…yeah we get it. Man of the Woods). While Timberlake did his best with these few songs, the sound wasn’t great. The arena was set up for a concert in the round, but the speakers provided an unclear sound for the majority of the show. One interesting touch was the campfire at the end of the arena. We didn’t have a great view of it but it was a nice idea. Unfortunately, it took JT and his team about 5 minutes (and a round of shots) in order to set up their acoustic set.
I’m not going to beat the concert to death. I could write another 1000 words telling you how he barely sang, missed steps and lacked audience connection. It was bad. It wasn’t even 2 hours but I couldn’t wait for it to be over. After the show, I received several texts from friends asking if I thought it was as tragic as they did. JT is a undeniably talented but I think he is struggling to find his space as an adult artist. He worked with great producers on his most recent album, but the result missed the mark. His mashup of a concert failed on almost every front. Maybe he should stick to acting and appearing on Jimmy Fallon. Next time he plans to come to town, I can assure you that I won’t have tickets and he won’t be able to cancel on me for a third time.
Midnight Summer Jam
Man of the Woods
Suit & Tie
Cry Me a River
Drink You Away
Until the End of Time
What Goes Around... Comes Around
Rock Your Body
Like I Love You
Can't Stop the Feeling!