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Justin Timberlake at Phoenix Park on the 10th of July, 2013

It’s been some time since this plum-faced, cabbage patch doll look-alike and ex-boyband member has visited our shores. In the meantime he’s had a go at pretty much everything turning the squeaky-clean Tennessee boy into a variety of media endeavors for our viewing pleasure. Once heralded as the up and coming monolith and savior (nobody ever said that) of pop music; the question was would he still live up to the hype as he toured his ‘yet to take off’ new-album.

The plan was for James Arthur (off the X-Factor conveyor belt) and Jessie J (off her head) to support the main act but due to illness, the latter had to bow out, only the day before. This cleared the way for the country’s apparent house-band The Coranas (the lads) to step in. Both acts played to very acceptable crowds as the shorts-wearing, boob-popping and sun-burning crowd filtered in.

As the crowd basked in the glory of the summer heatwave that Justin had so kindly brought with him, the lights dimmed and JT’s 16-strong band took to the stage all wearing black. The Trousersnake himself emerged from the darkness as the melody for Like I Love You floated above the air. He quickly hits the crowd with a back catalogue delving opening trio of Like I Love You, My Love and Cry Me a River. From the get go it is apparent that Timberlake is far from ring rusty. The show starts like a well oiled machine complete with long instrumental phases and the odd old-school choreographed dance routine, but thankfully nothing too brash and gimmick-laden.

Timberlake whips out some of his new albums material during the middle section with latest single Tunnel Vision receiving a hysterical reception from the crowd. This will come as a relief to Timberlake as his new album hasn’t been universally well received; appearing to be too dissimilar to previous releases for many of his own fans. Much of the new material translates better live than on record. Timberlake had far more input into this album and this shows as he acts as conductor, leading his effortless band in a symphony of musical variety not seen at his earlier concerts.

A clear example of the new-found musical minded Timberlake came with a stripped back version of End of Time, complete with elongated guitar solo. Understandably, a large portion of the crowd who came to see the Trousersnake, would not appreciate this sudden attention to musicality but luckily enough for them Rock Your Body, the certain highlight of the night quickly followed his educated display.

In the past, Justin Timberlake was compared to Michael Jackson and while he lived up to those murmurings for some time by grabbing his crotch and wearing one leather glove; he soon realised, probably around the time that most of that world did, that perhaps MJ wasn’t quite the man to be emulating too closely. But in a clear nod to his idol, Let’s Dance Let’s Shout had the entirety of The Phoenix Park dancing like a scene from Butlins in the 90’s. As much as people bought tickets for the singles, charm and the looks; they also lobbed the cash to Ticket Master due to JT’s stature as a renowned performer and this was the perfect showcase for all the above.

As Jessica Biel sat in the viewing tower, high above the crowd, Justin divided his attention between her and the crowd delivering the penultimate song of the night, Mirrors. An emotional wreck of a song that sees him declare his love for the “other half of him.” As most of the girls in the crowd beamed jealousy towards Biel, Timberlake leaves the stage briefly and returns for the night’s finale Suit & Tie.

This performance proves that not much momentum or pizzazz was lost during the intervening ‘acting’ years. The sheer joy that exudes from the glint in his eyes on stage might be seen as further proof that he has missed this side of the media juggernaut that is Justin Timberlake. Either that or he’s a better ‘actor’ than we give him credit for.

At least this time, it probably wont be too long before Justin and his Trousersnake, (I mean it this time) are back entertaining vast crowds like this one in The Phoenix Park – let’s just hope he brings back this bloody weather.

Justin Timberlake Photo Gallery

Photos: Abe Tarrush