If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, no one hears it. But if Justin Timberlake sings in the woods, everyone in Miami hears and likes it.
Last night, JT brought his Man of the Woods Tour to American Airlines Arena, where he delivered a wild (pun intended) experience. He'll hit the BB&T Center in Sunrise tomorrow.
The evening opened with Justin Timberlake! OK, so, no, JT really didn’t open for himself, but Marlins-clad DJ Freestyle Steve spun some beats, half of which were Timberlake songs. It felt weird listening to a bunch of songs we’d hear live in less than an hour. The other half of the DJ set was composed of songs such as "Low" by Flo Rida, which a healthy percentage of the crowd probably drank to preshow.
Next up were the Shadowboxers, a six-piece from Atlanta whose EP Apollo dropped in March. Collectively, they sounded sort of like JT or maybe Bruno Mars, but it just fell flat, with the exception of a few groups of girls screaming at them. The Shadowboxers’ energy and generally poppy tunes were admirable. But it just didn’t feel right echoing off the walls of an arena sparsely occupied by a bunch of people who didn’t know what they were watching.
After another DJ set by Steve — with little to no JT the second round — it was time for Timberlake to take the stage. And let’s talk about this stage. It was a shiny-surfaced “s” with an extended squiggle, sprouting dark, brassy trees and culminating in a multilevel oval stage. Midway was a bar with about 50 stools. Those seats were probably not cheap.
The trees lit up, and a light emerged like a midnight train. Then out walked JT. Wilderness-esque scenery flashed on screens, as they did throughout the evening. There were mountain ranges, lakes, pine trees, and roaming horses.
He opened the evening with "Filthy," his generally hated and blah new single. It shouldn’t be hated all that much live, especially because of JT’s skillful moves, six stellar backup dancers, and beloved 15-piece band, the Tennessee Kids. But it was still nice to get that song out of the way upfront.
The Tennessee Kids were a highlight and could probably sell out a tour of their own. The only downfall? In some instances, like during "LoveStoned" and "Man of the Woods," you couldn’t hear Timberlake at all. That’s bound to happen when you have backup singers who could easily lead their own bands.
You can tell Timberlake has fun with the Kids and his dancers. A highlight of the set was all of them sitting around a campfire and benches — yes, there was a real campfire onstage — and singing classics such as the Beatles’ "Come Together," John Denver’s "Thank God I’m a Country Boy," and Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams."
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JT’s set lasted a high-paced two hours and 10 minutes and rolled through many hits, including "Cry Me a River," in which the full-stage contraption turned into a river of fog. There was also "Rock Your Body," where a section of the floor turned into a discotheque; "Señorita," where JT played the piano while spinning in a circle; and "Suit & Tie," where Timberlake essentially twirled the mike stand like a baton, to deafening applause.
He closed the evening with "Can’t Stop the Feeling" and, yes, everyone went nuts.
At one point, Timberlake said, “There is something crazy about this crowd... and, if you’re not careful, someone might get pregnant.”
It’s safe to say Justin Timberlake definitely made Miami crazy, and someone probably got pregnant afterward.