It’s been a long time since Justin Timberlake has done a major tour (although he performed at this year’s Superbowl in Minneapolis). This tour, Man of the Woods, named after his latest album, was inspired by his family history and love of the outdoors. His band is appropriately named, the “Tennessee Kids.” Right away when taking the stage you see the tree silhouettes and floor length stage – reminiscent of a trail in the woods.
The stage was an incredible size with a main stage with the 12-person band had 2 drum sets, keyboards, brass, bongos, singers and more. The winding path then led to a circular center stage, followed by another path that led to a large stage area that would later be the campfire scene.
Justin opens the show with his logo image shining down on him, light beams and the strong beats of “Filthy.” Shortly after, the stage is completely transformed into a dense forest through impressive projections and screens for “Midnight Summer Jam”. You can catch glimpses of forest creatures and hear forest sounds that add to the ambiance. This portion of the projections was by far the most creative and fun. This opening set included a lot of new songs but also some fan favorites like “Sexy Back,” “Suit & Tie,” and “Mirrors.”
Later in the show Justin adds to the woodsy feel by recreating a campfire setting on the far end of the stage. Complete with growing grass, a live campfire and friends in flannel – this scene transports you to simpler and relaxing times. The images of the moon and stars and dancers joined with Justin playing guitar by the fire. The campfire songs included a tribute to the Santa Fe H.S. School shooting victims and survivors. He emotionally added “let them hear your voices” to his remarks. Justin poignantly donned a “Santa Fe Strong” t-shirt under his button down shirt for the rest of the show.
Other memorable Houston moments included a shout out to the Houston Rockets and an introduction of his dancer, Nicole, a Houston native. The whole crew also took a moment to share jello shots from the perfectly placed circle bar below the center part of the stage. A small floor space near the bar turned into a disco floor later in the show. Lucky (and wealthy) concert-goers could snag a bar stool at the working bar for a cool $1200 a spot. Justin pointed out to the crowd that he had this show on the 23rd, then he would watch the Houston Rockets play on the 24th, then he would be back to perform on the 25th. Which meant the stage had to be torn down and rebuilt.
A good portion of the ‘campfire set’ got a little sleepy with more ballads and a slower pace. The songs were mostly covers (John Denver, The Beatles, and more) and a chance for a little more conversation and selfies with the fans. I’m sure it was a well deserved slow down for Justin after such an action packed first half of cardio. He also needed to build up the energy for a back-to-back no-nonsense delivery of eight songs to close the show. Many of the songs in the closing set were well-known with much crowd participation. Some highlights were, “What Goes Around…Comes Around,”Say Something,” and the most magnificent “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” – which was the final song.
The dancing was consistent and top-notch by both Justin and his dancers. He had 4-6 dancers dancing with him regularly. The band was incredible and Justin’s personality shown through during many parts of the performance. At one point he let out a nice belly laugh! He finished the show with a crowd on their feet and dancing! Overall a strong performance with imaginative sets, stellar projections and of course JT himself.
2. Midnight Summer Jam
5. Man of the Woods
6. Higher Higher
8. Suit & Tie
9. My Love
10. Cry Me a River
12. Drink you Away (Shot glasses appeared on stage)
14. Until the End of Time
15. Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)
16. Ex-Factor (Lauryn Hill cover)
17. Come Together (The Beatles cover)
18. Thank God I’m a Country Boy (John Denver cover)
19. Morning Light
20. What Goes Around…Comes Around
21. Say Something
23. Summer Love
24. Rock Your Body
26. Like I Love You
27. Can’t Stop the Feeling!