May 6, 2013


Justin Timberlake Smokes NYC's Roseland Ballroom With Hit-Heavy Set

Ariel LeBeau
Ariel LeBeau

Just hours after revealing the release date for The 20/20 Experience's sequel album, Justin Timberlake hit New York City's 3,500-person capacity Roseland Ballroom for an exhilarating set spanning his 11-year solo career.

Based on last night's tight performances and the good ole fashioned showmanship JT & the Tennessee Kids brought to the stage for an hour and 40 minutes, his upcoming tour with Jay-Z may be this summer's must-get ticket.

Check out our exclusive photos from JT's Roseland show

At the very least, the Legends of Summer Tour will undoubtedly have more style than any other show. Not only are Timberlake & Jay carrying the torch of Rat Pack fashion into 2013, but the former 'N Sync-er masterfully directs his band and audience using his well-honed charisma. When Timberlake playfully derided the crowd's energy level as a mere "eight and a half, if I'm being honest with you," the audience vociferously upped its energy level to satisfy JT and earn a 9/10 ranking. And that kind of suave control is what constitutes real style.

With the boy band patina completely scrubbed off his image, Timberlake channeled and directly paid tribute to the classic R&B acts of the '70s. During a funk-soul recasting of his 2003 hit "Rock Your Body," Timberlake threw in a mini-cover of the Jacksons' "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)." He also referenced a few lyrics from Earth, Wind & Fire's "Shining Star" during his samba jam "Let the Groove Get In." Those who knew the originals shouted their approval and those who didn't danced happily anyway.

A less likely cover came when Timberlake launched into INXS' 1987 hit "Need You Tonight." While that New Wave act probably isn't a major influence on him, the song's Prince-ly riff allowed it to pass as a distant cousin to the intricate pop-soul sound he mined on The 20/20 Experience.

R&B legends seemed to inform most of the evening, but there were moments during the night that felt downright Zeppelin-esque. By the time "My Love" wrapped he'd turned the FutureSex/LoveSounds hit into a headbanger and "SexyBack" was recast as a chugging rock number.

Although musical BFF Timbaland graced the stage for that 2006 megahit, Jay-Z did not make an appearance during "Suit & Tie." But instead of replacing Hova's verse with a salsa breakdown (which he did during "Like I Love You") or playing a recording of Jay's part, Jay-T himself rapped the featured verse on their ode to tuxes. I'm not saying Mr. Jessica Biel can spit, but it was far from embarrassing. Let's say it was a shade above Madonna's flow but just below Debbie Harry's rhymes on the "Pop Star Attempting to Rap" Scale.

But even though Timberlake slayed "Cry Me a River" and the light show for "Mirrors" brought to mind a '50s prom, the evening's highlight was definitely the Justified opener "Senorita." Aside from the fact that it's a ridiculously fun song, Timberlake demonstrated his casually assured handle on the crowd during the tune's call-and-response portion. Forgoing the whole "I wanna try something right now, see they don't do this anymore" intro, Timberlake turned to the audience and asked, "Do I even need to explain this?" The crowd gave him the collective laugh he was looking for, to which he smiled and confidently said, "F-cking right."

Hell yeah, Justin. You are f-cking right.

Check out all our exclusive photos from the show: