or 5 Reasons Why an Indie Rock Guy Would Enjoy a Justin Timberlake Concert
Justin Timberlake played a sold out show last night at The Palladium in Hollywood. The classic 4,000 person venue was an amazing place to catch his first live show in many years. As a long-time fan of nearly all things Indie Rock and Freak Folk, I never thought I'd find myself in such a situation. And it was truly great. Here are the top five reasons this Indie-loving music nerd loved the show.
1. The band. As a fan of live music and -real- music (i.e. played with instruments) I was blown away by the fact that Justin brought no less than 15 musicians on stage with him, including 4 horns and 4 back-up singers. While there were moments of digital music, they were never solo. They were always just sitting in as the 16th member of the band. And the band itself was super solid.
2. The performance. I kind of thought a JT show would be a lot of choreographed dance numbers and singer over backing tracks. It was anything but. Justin Timberlake is a showman and I mean that in the most complimentary way. He sings, plays piano and guitar, dances and truly owns the stage and audience. There's a sort of Prince or Michael Jackson meets the Rat Pack kinda vibe that comes off as being very honest. It's not repackaged and put on for the crowd. It's deep in the core of the performance and comes across in everything from the bass thumping crowd pleasers to the intimate solo guitar and vocal moments.
3. The special guests. Being that the show was at 11:30PM after the Grammy's, there was an expectation and high probability that Justin would have some very special guests joining him on stage. It kept a certain level of electric energy in the air. Everytime the lights dimmed a little, I found myself searching the corners of the stage for some new artist to emerge from the darkness. In the end, it turned out to an appearance by Jay-Z for the song they recently collaborated on and later, an appearance by Timbaland to reprise Sexy Back -- the song for which much of the crowd was wanting and waiting.
4. The venue. The Palladium might have been the perfect venue to see the show. Its old school vibe melded well with what was happening on stage. Beyond that it's "somewhere in the middle" capacity of 4000 felt just about right. It was enough people to make it feel substantial but not so many that we couldn't be about 30-40 feet from the stage at all times (and about 10 feet from a hair-pulling girl fight, but that's a different story).
5. The wife. It's obviously a very personal filter to apply to the experience but if I can judge the performance by the wideness and frequency of smiles on my wife's face then I can say that this was the best performance that has ever been. Samantha is not a huge concertgoer. It takes a lot to get her to go and most of the time she's somewhat bored halfway through. Not the case here. JT held her in rapt attention for the duration of the almost 2 hour show. That's saying a lot considering that we arrived to get in line a full three hours before he took the stage.
While I don't see myself sitting and casually listening to his music, I do see myself looking back fondly on the experience for many years. It's hard to say whether he would put on another show in such a small venue but that aside, I'd highly suggest you go check him out if he decides to tour again. From last night's performance I'm pretty damn sure he'd deliver the goods, even if in an arena.