Take Back The Night

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Excitement and expectations were high amongst us ladies last Friday as Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience concert was on the evenings agenda post boozy brunch, which was the culmination of my sons 21st birthday celebrations. Now usually when expectations are so high the reality is disappointing but not so on this occasion – JT rocked the 20,000 crowd at Du Arena on Yas Island. It might even have been one of the best concerts I’ve seen here, well definitely top five anyway. Pre-concert drinks (as if we needed more beverages!!) were had at the opening night of North Star, a new bar conveniently located next to the arena, someone had a clever idea with this one! Jug of Sangria later we were more than ready to ‘Rock our Bodies’ (some more than others, but that is another story, never to be mentioned again!)

Image(Source: Flash Entertainment)

After hitting the pause button on his music career for seven years (where he appeared on the silver screen) JT came out fighting with his 20/20 Experience album released in two parts, which has been critically well received reaching platinum status in the US and three other countries as well as gold status in nine others. He has been described in the media as the globe’s biggest pop star and he certainly lived up to that accolade on Friday night, where even though the temperature gauge had been turned up to roasting and the humidity set on sweaty, the man who hails from Memphis, Tennessee danced and sang his heart out and had the audience in the palm of his hand. Supported by his large backing group, The Tennessee Kids (also the name of his fan club which I joined to get early bird tickets, slightly embarrassing but true, lets just say I may have lied a little on the age category) that included four backing vocalists and a three-piece horn section,  JT crooned his way through a selection of twenty-eight songs and dance routines.

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Showing off his versatility throughout,  JT’s proved he’s got it all. He can sing, dance, play piano and guitar and all without the slightest sign of being a diva, just a man embracing his god given talents and enjoying performing to the appreciative and vocal audience. Swapping the slick Tom Ford suits that have featured in his previous concerts on this tour, he opted instead for a simple and I’m such much cooler, weather friendly black ensemble.  JT was bang on time at the expected 9pm start and belted out hit after hit in a flawless show with old and new numbers, an array of his collaborations with other high-profile artists and a smattering of covers. This man still has his moves (you can take the boy out of the boyband ‘N Sync but …..) and along with his dancers the choreographed high energy numbers were on point.

ImageJT and his dancers showing off their moves (source:Flash Entertainment Facebook Page)

Friday night’s Abu Dhabi show was the only stop in the Middle East and the 69th date on his colossal world tour, which debuted in New York last year headed through Europe and will include one hundred and twenty concerts in total. The concert was a celebration of his solo career with tracks from his albums Justified (2002), FutureSex/LoveSounds  (2006) and The 20/20 Experience (2013). JT opened with Pusher Love Girl followed by Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want), Rock Your Body, FutureSex/LoveSound, Like I Love You, My Love, TKO and Señorita among others. Teasing the crowd with an excerpt of Holy Grail, his big hit with Jay Z which he ended before the drop (that’s what it’s called I’m told, to you and me that’s the bit where Jay Z comes in) and it flowed into the fantastic Cry Me a River. Hit after hit followed, then grabbing his guitar Timberlake slowed the show’s pace down with a fantastic retention of fellow Memphis statesman Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel and honoured Michael Jackson with a tribute of Human Nature and The Jacksons’s Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground), all showcasing his unique voice. Next up was What Goes Around… Comes Around,  I have to say my favourite bit was near the end when the show ended with his three popular killer tunes of Suit & Tie, SexyBack and the fantastic Mirrors. No sign of the latest duet with MJ of Love Never Felt So Good from MJ’s posthumous Xscape album (I am the only one that finds a duet with a deceased singer a tad odd?).

ImageSinging his heart out (source:The National Newspaper)

Timberlake performed here back in 2007 (before our time) at the Emirates Palace when he was still in his teenage heart-throb phase and teetering on the edge of mega stardom in his solo career. Anyone of that 10,000 crowd that are still here to relive the experience rave about how good it was. JT himself referred to his special connection with the capital during Friday nights concert, as it was his first major international concert and it put Abu Dhabi on the concert destination map, opening up the gateway for international music superstars to perform here.  Since then JT has climbed the showbiz ranks amassing a throng of fans (mainly female) along the way helped by appearances in Hollywood movies such as the Social Network, Bad Teacher, In Time and Friends with Benefits and his latest Runner, Runner as well as his comedy outings with Lonely Island, guest host stints on Saturday Night Live and his antics on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. His progression from his early days as a child star on Star Search and The All-New Mickey Mouse Club (with Britney Spears ) is plain to see, honing his raw talent he is now an established performer both on stage and the silver screen with his credentials continually growing but I think its fair to say that songwriter, singer, dancer, actor, record producer and businessman are already ticked off the to-do-list!

ImageJust enjoying himself on stage here in the capital (source:The National Newspaper)

Whether you are a fan or not, you have to admire Timberlake’s singing talent and dancing style, both of which have been seamlessly transformed from boy band into a solo career. This one time Disney child prodigy could have easily gone off the rails in a Lohan-Spears-Cyrus-Culkin type spiral with such fame, adulation and sheer wealth from such a young age, but it appears JT has his feet firmly on the ground and just enjoys what he’s doing! Who wouldn’t right? JT has been compared to stars of the golden age of Hollywood who could sing, dance and act and from what I’ve seen I couldn’t agree more. For all you diehard Timberlake fans, check out justintimberlake.com to get your JT fix and become a Tennessee Kid.

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From the sublime to the ridiculous for tonight’s concert at Du Arena, Flash Entertainment are wheeling out the ‘Prince of Darkness’ 65-five-year old Ozzy Osborne with Black Sabbath! Now I get a lot of stick from team other half/teenager about wanting to go to everything on offer “You would go to the opening of an envelope!” but even I draw the line at this ageing rock band! Not sure how they or Ozzy’s eye make-up are going cope with the heat and humidity!

All views are my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.