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Justin Timberlake At Hammerstein Ballroom, Thursday, July 10th, 2014, Reviewed

Timberlake And Hammerstein

Timberlake And Hammerstein

“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. … On some nights I believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”
– Hunter S. Thompson

Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids at the intimate Hammerstein Ballroom on July 10th was no exception to this quote. There are few artists I would wait three hours on line outside in the heat of summer and another two hours of a hip-hop playing DJ from Miami. It took no convincing my friend Patty to join me. At $230 each (typically $53) it was expensive. Worth it? …

… It is about 4:30P on Thursday afternoon and we are surrounded by a largely younger audience (twenty-somethings) and a few scattered ahem middle-aged folks. We landed about ten rows back just right of center stage. The music is so loud and the bass is turned way up. Enough already! It’s 9:30P and we’re ready for the show.

The stage lights up with Frank Sinatra’s, “My Way” playing – a nice sentimental choice given the location. The Tennessee Kids are in place and the music starts with JT’s big head flashing across the background – Only When I Walk Away. Finally, Justin Timberlake hits the stage. WOW!!! It is so LOUD it’s deafening. Don’t mind it because it is also so damn exciting! The crowd has moved forward and we stand six rows back. What a difference seeing an entertainer like JT up close and personal! His dance moves, his expressions, I can see everything and the music … I can feel everything. It’s as though the bass and percussions are my life support, if left without the music my heart would stop beating.

“And how we feeling on the floor tonight?” Twenty-five. I am feeling twenty-five. Everyone is much closer now and the heat has definitely turned up since JT hit the stage. The band and back-up singers are casual. Dressed in black button down shirts with diagonal stripes from shoulder to chest resembling modern day gospel outfits. The female back-up singers are wearing simple black dresses. JT is also wearing all black with lightning strikes on his shirt.

I have experienced JT three times in the past year – with Jay-Z at Yankee Stadium, Izod Center and of course, Thursday night at Hammerstein Ballroom. Every time he puts 100% effort into his show, an incredibly hard-working entertainer wanting to give his greatest performance for the fans but each time has been different. The only reason I went to this show was because of the size of the venue. I like Justin Timberlake but am not a die-hard fan but rather a sucker for the experience and I LOVE high-energy shows and I LOVE to dance!

The Manhattan Center was constructed in 1906 by Oscar Hammerstein for his Manhattan Opera Company as an alternative to the high-priced Metropolitan Opera. It has a rich history including vaudeville in the early 1900s, Freemason’s Temple in the 1930s, Trade Union in the 1940s to its current owner, Unification Church, who restored the Hammerstein Ballroom it to is original beauty Apparently, Justin Timberlake is no stranger to Hammerstein Ballroom. He played Like I Love You for the Teen Choice Awards as one of his first solo appearances in 2002 off his Justified album . It’s funny remembering hometown (New Bedford, MA) musicians who toured with him as I watch the YouTube video (Derek & Kevin Antunes (drums & keys) and their cousin Troy Antunes on the bass). Kevin has gone on to become quite successful. Not sure about the others.]

JT’s set list plays like a high intensity workout with some moderation to catch his breath. Pusher Love Girl is a great song and he works the whole stage but takes a pause about half way through. It’s hot from where I’m standing so I can’t imagine having to jump around the stage under bright lights. Plays Gimmie What I Don’t Know, Rock Your Body, Don’t Hold the Wall (intro), Future I Sex I Love I Sound – the groove is amazing, perfect timing and high-energy.

“NYC, what’s up? Is it as hot out there as it is back here? You slept on the street to get in the front row. What is wrong with you!?” He is engaging with his fans when a young woman throws her panties at him. “She threw her fucking panties on stage” as he walks around swinging them around. “I love you Justin?” “I love you too. No more chit-chat.”

Speaking of chit-chat, there was a lot of chatter from folks in line about whether Jay-Z would join him on stage since he was playing Saturday night with his wife Beyonce (attended and reviewed by Iman) even the DJ teased about Jay-Z and “you never know who may show up”. The audience was hyped up for Holy Grail and until he segued into Cry Me a River did they realize there would be no Jay-Z. Quite honestly, I’m not sure how the historical Hammerstein Ballroom could have held the walls up if he had. Justin Timberlake already had the place on fire!

As Justin stands in front of the organ he chastises a fan for texting (as I type notes for my review). “Why are you texting? I need your undivided attention.” He plays one of my favorites, Senorita. Continues with a crowd favorite, Not a Bad Thing. A highlight for me is when he slows it down with one of his favorite songs (I never heard it), Jolene (Ray LaMontagne cover). The remaining set list included What Goes Around, New York, NY (also done at Yankee stadium), Suit & Tie, SexyBack and Mirrors. By the time he played Mirrors I was tired, deaf, my feet hurt from standing seven plus hours and the sound was really off. It had shifted from loud to noisy. Did a much better performance of Mirrors at the Izod Center in November. The sound and lights go off.

So, was it worth $230 and seven hours of standing? Yes! Every minute and every dime of it! The experience was intoxicating! Would have preferred to write the review immediately after the show (life happily gets in the way) because it would have been more reflective of how Energizing it was and how it certainly Fueled me past my normal bedtime. This will be a tough one to top.


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