Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 | 5:04 p.m.
SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read this review if you’re going to Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” at MGM Grand Garden Arena tonight. This is your one and only warning!
Superstar singer Justin Timberlake is a singing, dancing and sex machine, and he is hands down one of the best live entertainers in music today.
Timberlake brought his “The 20/20 Experience” world tour to MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday night (he’s back tonight, as well), and it was nearly three hours of nonstop singing (his falsetto and overall range are fantastic) and dancing (Timberlake is still an incredible dancer after all these years post-’N Sync).
And fawning, too. Timberlake is the picture of 007 charisma in a white tuxedo jacket with a silver-and-gray checkered bowtie and black pants, then, after a 10-minute intermission(!), all-black attire, including a black jacket. His very presence onstage is captivating, and his crotch grabs made fans scream. Men want to be him; women and gay men want to be with him.
Timberlake took the stage with the repeated question, “Tennessee Kids, are you ready?” Then “Las Vegas, are you ready?” (Tennessee Kids is the name of the band of Timberlake, who hails from Memphis, Tenn.)
A few surprises and standouts from Friday night (the concert started on time at 9 p.m., and the applause for him throughout the evening was thunderous):
One of Timberlake’s great attributes is his willingness to dip into various musical genres — pop, soul and R&B, hip hop, EDM and country — and he soars in all of them.
The accompanying video for “Tunnel Vision” was especially racy, as it included numerous images of topless women. Topless!
Timberlake’s tributes — to Michael Jackson with “Human Nature,” Elvis Presley with “Heartbreak Hotel” and Bel Biv DeVoe (now you know) with “Poison” — were some of the standout performances in an overall stellar night. His vocals and dance moves of the greats before him were spot on.
While Timberlake is not the first to do this, the elevated stage that rose from the front and then moved over the crowd on the floor to the back — a “flying bridge” — was used to great effect (and an opportunity to snap Timberlake up close with cell phone cameras), but let’s hope neither Timberlake nor his backup singers and dancers has vertigo.
He ended the evening with “Sexy Back,” then an up-tempo “Mirrors.” Timberlake is probably tired of singing “Sexy Back,” but it’s one of his biggest and most-well-known hits. That said, “Mirrors” was a great way for Timberlake to take back the night.
One quibble: Timberlake’s vocals were drowned out by the band and music throughout the evening. The band — and backup singers and dancers — are absolutely terrific, but Timberlake is the star, and his singing should be heard loud and clear.
Friday night’s more-than-30-song setlist included “Pusher Love Girl,” “Rock Your Body,” “Don’t Hold the Wall,” “FutureSex/LoveSound,” “Like I Love You,” “My Love,” “TKO,” “Strawberry Bubblegum,” “Summer Love,” “LoveStoned,” “Until the End of Time” at a white Yamaha piano, “Holy Grail” leading into “Cry Me a River,” then the unexpected 10-minute intermission.
Then “Only When I Walk Away,” “True Blood” (styled as tribal EDM), “Drink You Away” (a country-ish song about alcohol with his jam band), “Tunnel Vision,” “Senorita” at the keyboard, “Let the Groove Get In” (as a Latin number mixed in with a little “Conga” by Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine), “That Girl,” Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Not a Bad Thing” and Jackson’s “Human Nature.”
And “What Goes Around … Comes Around,” “Cabaret” (with, appropriately, cabaret dancers), “Take Back the Night” (with “the roof is on fire” chant and a little “Jungle Boogie”), “Murder” (with dripping-blood imagery on the big screen), BBD’s “Poison” with the signature dance moves, “Suit and Tie,” “Sexy Back” and “Mirrors.”
DJ Freedom was the opening act. Thanks to Sam Morris of the Las Vegas Sun and contributing photographer Tom Donoghue for their photo galleries.
Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” is at MGM Grand Garden Arena tonight in the second evening of a two-night stand.
Don Chareunsy is senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
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MGM Grand, a AAA Four Diamond resort, offers 5,044 rooms and suites.
MGM Grand features KÀ by Cirque du Soleil; Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club; and world-class entertainment at the Grand Garden Arena and Hollywood Theatre.
The resort offers signature restaurants by celebrity chefs including Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill and Michelin three star and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Joël Robuchon.
As part of its ongoing “Grand Renovation,” MGM Grand has remodeled all rooms and suites in its main tower and is adding several new experiences to its lineup including Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, a new upscale dining/nightlife concept (coming in April 2013).
MGM Grand also features a state-of-the-art, non-smoking conference center, the Grand Spa, Cristophe Salon, "CSI: The Experience" and an inviting pool complex featuring the tantalizing daylife of Wet Republic.
Upscale accommodations include The Mansion, an exclusive hotel within the hotel; the luxurious two-story SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand; and The Signature at MGM Grand, a luxury all-suite, non-gaming hotel located adjacent to the main resort.