Not missing a step, or even a beat, Justin Timberlake’s Brit Awards afterparty show at The Forum in London on February 20th proved that when you’ve got it, well… you’ve got it. Regardless of the fact that he stepped away from making music nearly seven years ago, the former ‘N Sync frontman left everything he had on the stage that played host to the eagerly anticipated return of pop’s prodigal son.
Dressed to kill, complete with bow tie and designer black and white shoes, JT strolled on to the stage as cool as a cucumber. There were no pyrotechnics, no announcer and no big entrance; simply because it wasn’t needed. Justin Timberlake has proved himself time after time after time, and his fans, who only had a week from when the tickets went on sale to prepare themselves for this intimate event, were without doubt ready.
Opting for a stripped down version of his first solo single “Like I Love You” to kick things off, Timberlake donned a guitar to strum a few chords whilst his new band, The Tennessee Kids, held things down from the back. Much to the excitement of the sold out crowd, songs such as “LoveStoned” and “Summer Love” made unexpected appearances and fed the hunger of die hard fans in attendance. Then for the more commercially driven JT fan, tracks such as “My Love” – the video’s musical introduction was also performed – and “Señorita” sounded as good now as they did when they were originally recorded.
With a who’s who of the music world in attendance to witness the return of JT, the likes of JLS, Tom Jones and even Justin Bieber were in awe of the singer/actor’s energising stage presence. With a satisfyingly obvious reminiscent quality to his music, thanks in part to the songs taken from his debut album Justified, even the celebs were not too big to sing back word for word each lyric – Aston of JLS could be seen filming different parts of the show whilst acting out each record.
Introducing some of his new material to the fans, the not so creatively titled “Pusher Love Girl” and “That Girl” slowed things down a bit, which at this point gave fans the opportunity to sit down and take a breather or instead give their feet a rest. Concentrating on showcasing his vocal talents, the songs were delivered with not even a hint of error and all eyes were unquestionably on the suit and tie wearing loverman.
Picking it back up again, the crowd’s biggest reactions came when he dropped classics such as “SexyBack,” which worked as the night’s encore, and “What Goes Around…/…Comes Around.” Then aside from running through new single “Suit & Tie,” he finished up, prior to the encore, with the recently leaked “Mirrors.”
As a sufferer of both ADHD and OCD, Justin Timberlake’s rapid fire non-stop approach to his shows is explosive. The night in question was no different. It felt like you were watching a kid drinking Red Bull at playtime. He didn’t want to stop. Mixing the likes of Juicy J’s “Bandz A Make Her Dance” and Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “N—-s In Paris” into his performance of “Cry Me A River” was both creatively unexpected and musically refreshing. He even took the time to put on his dancing shoes, alongside members of his band, to knock out a smooth dance routine to The Jackson 5’s “Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground).”
For a few screaming fans the only disappointment came when no musical guests blessed the stage alongside JT; usually you might find Timbaland lurking about, or at least one member of N.E.R.D.. On this particular evening, however, Timberlake on his own would have to do. To be perfectly honest, if another act had come to support him the likelihood of someone’s blood pressure not reaching an all time high would have been slim. The poor residents of Kentish Town must have been wondering what was going on, and why so late – the show started at 11pm due to the singer’s earlier performance at the Brit Awards.
With his wife, actress Jessica Biel, looking on, the energy, excitement and overall atmospheric aura was something incredibly special. It felt like the beginning of something colossal. In fact, anyone who was present at his 2006 show at the now non-existent Hammersmith Palais will know this feeling all too well. Right before his LoveSexy/FutureSounds takeover, the previously mentioned show gave fans a taster of things to come – the changing of the guard in pop some will claim. His show at the Forum displayed similar traits, but was a tad bit more mature with a creative change of direction.
If you weren’t there to witness the show you missed out on one seriously intimate gathering full of justifiable hype, professionalism and performance panache.