Justin Timberlake @ SSE Hydro, Glasgow, 7 Jul
Justin Timberlake remains the ultimate showman, even if his newer material doesn’t quite hold up, in a show of many peaks and troughs
There’s no denying that Justin Timberlake puts on a real show, and his stage design is just the start; stretching across the length of the Hydro’s floor, trees line the sides of a winding walkway leading from the main stage through the crowd. Opening with Filthy, the lead single from his latest album Man of the Woods, Timberlake emerges from a beaming light in the middle of stage and proves he’s still the all-singing, all-dancing pop sensation many in the audience grew up adoring.
He doesn’t leave us hanging too long either before taking it back to the hits, firing into a back-to-back of LoveStoned / I Think She Knows (Interlude) and SexyBack from his 2006 album FutureSex/LoveSounds. And he keeps them coming throughout the show: taking up the keys for Señorita, having a moment with his vocal sampler before performing My Love, diving head first into beautifully executed melodrama for Cry Me a River, as the stage and walkway become engulfed in smoke, and leading a rapturous singalong to one of his more recent hits Mirrors, to name just a few.
However, after a brief interlude, things take a turn for the bizarre. Timberlake reappears on stage with an acoustic guitar and dressed in a flannel shirt to perform – you guessed it – Flannel. All the while, he and his band are surrounding a bonfire, set up at the end of the walkway during the short break. He then hands over the spotlight to his backing singers, who perform covers of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams, Lauryn Hill’s Ex-Factor and The Beatles’ Come Together, among others. Given the wealth of hits in his arsenal, this seems an odd and unnecessary interlude, which leads the show into a lull.
It’s in the performances of his newer material that Timberlake’s set falls short. He does fit in a lot of it though, playing nearly half of his new album, but for every disappointing new track, Timberlake manages to redeem himself with an older hit. His involvement with the crowd is commendable too, moving on to the floor for a performance of Rock Your Body and pacing around the bar that surrounds the central podium on the walkway during What Goes Around… / ...Comes Around (Interlude).
Drawing things to a close with recent trap-influenced single Supplies mixed into Like I Love You, Timberlake closes the show on stand-alone single Can’t Stop the Feeling. After two full hours of performing, he does appear to tire out towards the end, but it’s understandable given he has literally sung and danced his way through the majority of the performance. Lulls aside, Justin Timberlake is the ultimate showman and tonight’s show is nothing short of entertaining.