Justin Timberlake

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Music Review by Natalie Homer

O2 Arena, London – Tuesday 10 July 2007

Earlier this week I was offered a VIP ticket to see Justin Timberlake and decided that a look at the AOL VIP suite in the O2 was worth foregoing a wobblingly overdue workout at the gym. I got the ultimate workout in the end.

I didn’t know much about Justin Timberlake’s music when I set off on the long journey to North Greenwich for the last night of his sell out FUTURESEX/LOVESOUNDS tour, also the name of his second solo effort, but from the moment he apparated through the floor of the O2 Arena’s multi-level, tentacle-like stage, I was basically mesmerised, couldn’t take my eyes off this step-perfect and confidently sexual performer.

Kicking off with the infectious off-beat of MY LOVE he rapped, glided, space-walked, lapel-flicked and crotch-grabbed his way through a bonanza of number one hits including WHAT GOES AROUND and DAMN GIRL – all bumpalicious tunes – taking it to the bridge and back again. Interjected with slower piano-led croons, the boy seems multi-talented. Half way through the set, JT takes a much deserved break while guest and Uber music producer Timbaland Djed a set of his many artist collaborations including Nelly Furtado, Akon and Aaliyah while video clips were projected onto giant gauze screens lowered from the ceiling that encircle the stage.

While the crowd is genuinely appreciative of Timbaland’s production talents it is ‘The Trousersnake’ they all want and make their admiration known to him when he takes to the stage again. This second part of the set is more soulful with Justin playing either guitar or piano on his more subdued R&B tunes giving the audience an excuse to refill glasses. While it’s obvious the crowd prefers the dancier tunes as I realised did I, his down tempo arrangements put me in mind of Stevie Wonder whom I am a huge fan of – so all is forgiven.

CRY ME A RIVER his anguished protest at Britney’s alleged two-timing of him with his best mate is also well received though I didn’t really find much inspiration in his slower more affecting songs such as LOVESTONED and SUMMERLOVE, that said they were far from bad.

He ends on a high with another firm favourite and global hit SEXYBACK, encored with a slow song – I forget which one as by this point I’m entranced by this man’s effortless sensuality – honestly the boy would make spoon playing sexy…

Then it was all over – disapparated like he apparated through a hole in the floor. I was still humming his songs the next day – proof of a night well spent. He is a perfectionist; his every move measured but natural resulting in a streak free performance. He is such a gifted entertainer that you can forgive him his Mickey Mouse and NSync past.

Supported by Fergie, a less than stirring performance, I felt she didn’t have any real musical direction and was an unnecessary add –on – although she did put on a bizarre floor act to a metal influence song taken from the SHREK soundtrack which was cringeworthy to an extreme but oddly entertaining. Her dancers though, it has to be said were amazing and basically save her bacon more than once throughout her set; Nevertheless, a bizarre and disjointed performance. Still, it was soon forgotten.

I left the VIP suite as I came – full of admiration (for JT) and wholly impressed by the O2. It is a spectacular building; its circular shape ensures that unless you are the unfortunate sod in the top row of the rafters, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. Thanks to AOL, one of the corporate sponsors of the O2 for the ticket.