Timberlake
Timberlake in performance. (Photo by Christopher Polk, Getty Images)

by Joseph Mastando

Let’s face it, everything that involves travelling to your local theater, whether to see an extravagant show, a side-splitting film, or a head-banging performance, has become nothing more than a big fat slap in your wallet. Drink prices are outrageous. The snacks makes McDonald’s dollar menu look like the Holy Grail (pun intended). And getting good seats? Well, unless you plan on skipping next month’s electric bill, it looks you better bring some tissues and get ready for the nosebleeds.

It goes without question that if you’re going to spend your paycheck, or three, on a night out on the town, you should expect any performance you see to be as top-notch as humanly possible.

On Saturday, Nov. 9, Justin Timberlake’s high-energy instrumentals, soothing falsetto, and electrifying dance numbers graced the Izod Center’s stage, and in no way did he disappoint. Rather, he rendered a performance I dare say was one of the best, if not the best, I have yet to see during my time.

Timberlake’s 20/20 experience tour has gathered much attention and anticipation. Not only did he release two (yes two, not one) albums this year, The 20/20 Experience and The 20/20 Experience: 2/2, both which have reached number one on Billboard’s Top 100, but he was also honored with MTV VMA’s Video Vanguard Award and performed a 20-minute number that stunned audiences across America during an already jaw-dropping night.

With expectations mounted high, Timberlake exhibited professionalism and poise only appropriate of one with nearly two decades of experience. He began with his silhouette projected upon the back of the stage, singing “Pusher Love Girl,” the first number off of The 20/20 Experience.

At once, the music came to a stop as lights fully illuminated the singer standing in the middle of the stage sporting a sleek and sophisticated monochromatic suit. It appeared to be navy blue, but considering my $230 seats were not very close to the stage (do you notice my bitterness?), I could not exactly distinguish the color.

His sets moved swimmingly through newer and older hits. The first weaved together both very well, showcasing some of his recent recordings, including “Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want),” “Strawberry Bubblegum,” “Don’t Hold the Wall,” and “TKO” as well as his older sensations like “Rock Your Body,” “Summer Love,” and “Cry Me a River.”

After performing for nearly 90 minutes and taking a 10-minute break, Timberlake began his second set. This set showcased a bit more diversity than the first. He played some of his best like “Senorita,” “SexyBack,” “What Goes Around…Comes Around,” and “Take Back the Night.”

Toward the middle of his set, Timberlake tipped his hat to some of his inspirations and picked up his guitar, strumming and singing the melodies to “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Human Nature” by Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson respectively. As a Tennessee native and arguably the reigning king of pop, it only seemed necessary for him to cover the two heavyweights. Later, he pulled out a rather unexpected yet refreshing cover of Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison.”

One of the most unique aspects of the night was Timberlake’s multi-purpose stage. While performing “Let the Groove Get In,” part of the stage seemed to detach from the rest, levitating and migrating from one end of the stadium to the other. Timberlake truly demonstrated his down-to-earth mentality, performing six songs for all the guests on the opposing side of the arena—close to the section my $230 tickets placed me (yes, I’m still bitter)—not forgetting to toss back a shot of alcohol.

Aside from a few hiccups in the night—my $8.75 beer (I don’t think I could emphasize the word “expensive” any more) and getting yelled at by an unfortunately rude young lady who I accidently bumped into while attempting to reach the bathrooms—the night proved magnificent. A girl standing in the row below me even shouted, “So, I guess we’re seeing him again in February at Madison Square Garden!” And I mustn’t lie—I’ve already looked into purchasing tickets for the show as well.

Three hours and 32 songs later, Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience tour came to a close, and I must say that I am now seeing more clearly than ever.