Justin Timberlake Stakes His Claim as Pop's Top Dog

None More Smooth: Justin's show Monday was free of wardrobe malfunctions.
None More Smooth: Justin's show Monday was free of wardrobe malfunctions.
Photos by Greg Noire

Justin Timberlake Toyota Center December 1, 2014

Ten years ago, Justin Timberlake played a show in Houston that shocked the world. It was the halftime show for Super Bowl 38 headlined by JT's longtime friend Janet Jackson. He popped in at the end to sing "Rock Your Body," and that's when her breast popped out. And thus, we will never forget the line "I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song."

Timberlake's concert Monday night at Toyota Center was nowhere near that controversial, but it was a grand spectacle of lights, dancing and music. A super-show, if you will. With a massive stage that included a video board that extended from one side of the arena to the other, Justin and his band the Tennessee Kids provided one of the most spectacular sets I've ever seen in Houston.

With the band elevating onto the stage, Justin appeared in the center of the platform lit by a single spotlight above. He was dressed in a black suit (no tie) and white sneakers, and opened with "Pusher Love Girl." The screams in the arena were piercing; I definitely picked the wrong show to forget my ear plugs.

Timberlake's set was nearly 30 songs of hip-shaking and heartbreak.
Timberlake's set was nearly 30 songs of hip-shaking and heartbreak.

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"Rock Your Body" followed, and the show took off on a two-hour journey of hip-shaking and heartbreak. The set list was almost 30 songs long, with an intermission and an encore added in. There is no denying that Timberlake is the complete package. Maybe too perfect. He sings, he dances, he's funny... Jessica Biel is one lucky lady.

His band was just as hype as he was, frequently joining Timberlake to dance and jump along to each track. "We are definitely Houston music fans up here," he told the crowd, proceeding to sing snippets of "Knockin' Da Boots" and Pimp C's verse off "Big Pimpin." Now whatcha knowmbout dem Texas boyz, Justin?!

Actually, one of his back-up singers, Nicole, is from Houston. Her family was seated a few rows below my seats in section 120, proudly cheering and waving at their baby onstage. A really cool moment for sure.

JT even gave a shout-out to the late Pimp C and H-Town's "Knockin' Da Boots."
JT even gave a shout-out to the late Pimp C and H-Town's "Knockin' Da Boots."

After an intermission, the stage began to migrate its way to the back of the venue. With the platform mounted on two Zamboni-like vehicles, Justin and his crew flew across the top of the crowd, singing and dancing as they moved carefully to the B-stage at the opposite end of the arena floor. It was, without a doubt, one of the coolest tricks a performer has ever pulled at Toyota. Justin then paid tribute to Michael Jackson by singing "Human Nature," followed by a cover of Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel."

Of course, no JT show would be complete without "Suit & Tie" and "SexyBack," and that is how it ended: with a clear vision as to why Mr. Timberlake is one of the best performers in show bizness.

Story continues on the next page.

 

This show was almost a year to the day from the Houston stop on the "20/20 Experience" tour's first leg.
This show was almost a year to the day from the Houston stop on the "20/20 Experience" tour's first leg.

Personal Bias: Remember those Columbia House "12 for 1" CD mail-order deals? I definitely remember obtaining N*Sync's debut album this way.

The Crowd: Sexy in sweaters.

Overheard In the Crowd: "Wow, that sounds so pretty" -- Sister From Houston, who proclaimed this show the second-best of the year, with the On the Run Tour still in the top spot.

Random Notebook Dump: This is my first (of many, many more I hope) review with my amigo and Houston's Best Music Photographer Greg Noire providing the photographs. Check out his extraordinary work on Instagram @GregNoire.

When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens towards the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @MarcoFromHouston.

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