Photos by Dustin Schneider
Article by Jennifer Schneider
Some artists come to town bringing with them a basic end stage with enough room for their band to play on, others bring an entire production that rival the biggest and most extravagant of Las Vegas shows. The latter is exactly what Justin Timberlake brought to the American Airlines Center as he opened the first of a two-night stint here in Dallas. Of course, it’s exactly what’s expected from Justin after coming off a massive career spanning Super Bowl halftime show and being one of the biggest entertainers of this generation.
From the first notes of the show opener “Filthy” from this year’s Man Of The Woods record, Timberlake seemed to float his way around the arena effortlessly and precision without missing a beat. Crooning in his smooth, silky, and intoxicating way through crowd favorites “Sexy Back”, “Cry Me A River”, “My Love”, and “Suit & Tie” he had the crowd on their feet and under his spell for the evening.
Snaking from one end of the arena to other, the stage and was divided into three parts. On the eastern end was the main stage where Timberlake’s band, the Tennessee Kids setup with all of their instruments. In the center of the arena was the “bar stage” consisting of a twenty-five foot round stage wrapped with two actual working bars in which floor patrons could order drinks from. Finally opposite the main stage was the “campfire stage” with an actual working campfire. It served as both a dance surface and a stripped down stage for some acoustic songs midway through the evening. Ramps twisted and turned connecting all three stages together, and helped Justin reach his daily goal of 20,000 steps as he danced and sang his way back and forth across the arena floor all night.
Timberlake ended his opening set with “Drink You Away”, Justin engaged the crowd and brought onstage a friend local to Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks). Dirk brought with him a tray of shots for Justin and the group. In an effort to make the crowd feel as if we are his friends, Justin then engaged the audience to sing Happy Birthday to one of his close friends which were on tour with him this week.
Mid-show, which is referenced as the Campfire Set, the entire group was situated around the live campfire and played acoustic versions of several songs including “Flannel” and “Until The End of Time”. Then several members of the band then went around the campfire singing cover songs like Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”, The Beatles’ “Come Together” and John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”. Timberlake then finished the campfire set with “Morning Light”. The Campfire Set was more of a relaxed feel, the audience was all sitting with the group as if we were an actual part of the campfire.
Timberlake then started the final set with, what I consider, an amazing acoustic version of “What Goes Around… Comes Around”. Timberlake continued through many fan favorites such as “Summer Love” and “Rock Your Body”. With the continued energy and effortlessness he started the show he ended the show on a high note with a closing song of “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”.
As I left the show, I was truly impressed with Timberlake’s and The Tennessee Kids talent. All of the many details put together made this show what it was… spectacular!
Atlanta, Georgia natives, and Timberlake produced, Shadowboxers started the evening off with a 45 minute set of pop-rock tunes from their catalog including a few off their latest release Apollo.