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Off the back of his fourth studio album (consolidating The 20/20 Experience into one), Justin Timberlake returns to UK shores for his Man Of The Woods tour, including two shows at London’s O2 in early July.
For the album, Timberlake has once again teamed up with producers Timbaland, and Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, known collectively as The Neptunes. All have had a strong hand in previous Timberlake music.
The latest UK tour dates, having kicked off in Glasgow before heading south to England’s capital, see Timberlake bring a handful of new tracks, as well as a plethora hits from across his Justified and FutureSex/LoveSounds releases, as well as his most recent releases.
It’s a full celebration of his success as a solo artist, with four of the five releases reaching the No.1 spot on the stateside album chart, and all but his latest (which still has plenty of time) being certified Platinum multiple times.
To date, Man Of The Woods has spawned US Top 10 singles Filthy and Say Something, the latter of which sees Timberlake team up with country music sensation Chris Stapleton.
As the tour continues across the UK, here’s what we learned from his first of two nights at London’s O2.
It’s not all about the new songs
He may be touring to celebrate the release of his back-to-his-roots opus Man Of The Woods, and the tour may carry the album’s name, but it’s by no means a setlist dominated by new material. There’s a smattering throughout the euphoric 25 plus strong list of songs that comprise his full two hours on stage, but there’s no sacrifice for longterm die-hard fans. Early appearances of the likes of Sexy Back and Señorita demonstrate a genuine acknowledgement of his impressive history, and it’s a theme that follows through. By the end, nobody will be left wanting; there’s a place for every hit.
There’s a serious wow factor
From the dirty beats of Filthy opening the non-stop party, Timberlake commands the stage with ease. And what a stage! The Man Of The Woods tour sees Justin perform in the round, placed in the centre of the arena and surrounded by his adoring and varied fans. Translucent screens drop and retract into the ceiling projecting close up shots of the star, himself basking in one of the most impressive light-shows The O2 has ever seen. It achieves the unthinkable, turning the vast arena into an intimate celebration. It’s nothing short of intoxicating. One stripped back moment even plays out by a real campfire (gas-lit, of course) on stage, at which Timberlake leads his backing singers in a chorus of enchanting covers.
The new songs are massive
Filthy proves to be the perfect opener, building to a crashing crescendo. Midnight Summer Jam is a funky masterpiece, and sits wonderfully next to his earlier material. Say Something carries some serious weight. And Supplies, a truly atypical pop song, seems perfectly placed between Rock Your Body and Like I Love You, continuing the party from one classic to the other. These songs have clearly been created with a live setting in mind, and with Timberlake’s sheer stage brilliance behind them, they are elevated to a masterful new level.
He’s a true professional
Timberlake has spent much of his life on the stage, and it shows. The energy is infectious, and his friendly command of the arena is sheer perfection. The multi-instrumentalist demonstrates with ease that his voice still holds strong, arguably one of the best in the business. Perhaps most importantly, he’s having fun. There’s no pretension; no sign that he’s taking himself too seriously. In fact, his Man Of The Woods show is evidence of his maturity, and how his grounding project is easily one of personal development, not just an excuse to dabble in country music. Above all else, tonight’s performance is ultimately about high-octane fun, with an added slice of funk. Timberlake flaunts his characteristic moves around the vast arena floor (supported by some notable backing dancers). Can’t Stop The Feeling? That’s OK, we don’t want this to stop.
Justin Timberlake continues his Man Of The Woods tour on the following dates:
11 July 2018 – The O2, London
27 August 2018 – Birmingham Arena, Birmingham
29 August 2018 – Manchester Arena, Manchester
Tickets for Justin Timberlake’s UK dates are on sale now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.