Sexy or smutty? It wasn’t clear which Justin Timberlake was attempting to bring back on March 10 at the Joe Louis Arena.
The high-pitched crooner simulated sex acts, like rear-entry romping with a scantily clad Playboy look-a-like model, during the lackluster jam “Damn Girl.”
She sucked his finger; he locked lips with her. It was the fantasy of every swooning chick – from pre-pubescent to soccer mom – who proclaimed her love to the 20-something. The same uber-fans who, every time the preppy-looking musician sauntered to their side of the elaborate stage set-up, froze, pretended to make intense eye contact with him, and then turned to their girlfriends to say, “He was looking at us the whole time.”
But that’s the kind of crowd Timberlake attracts. Not to mention females who towed their boyfriends and gay guys who boogied with their breast-exposing Timber-twins.
As the falsetto-flinger brought the heat through a career-spanning setlist, including an *NSYNC snippet, he seemed eager to add the edge to his quickly desolving boy-band facade. On the rock-infused “Cry Me A River,” ripping with electric guitar and Timberlake’s wailing finale, he cemented himself as a bona fide musician.
It helped that he strummed the guitar and played the piano on a revolving stage, making himself visible to all on the in-the-round spider-ish space. But while that was admirable, it wasn’t the peak of the two-hour-plus show. That came when Timberlake busted moves with his nearly dozen background dancers, using the enormous space as a pedestal for some smooth jiving.
An electrifying performance of his newest single “What Goes Around” was fused with heavy bass rumbles, and ended with Timberlake raising his middle finger. A spacey-sounding “Rock Your Body,” with ample laser lights zooming through the arena, followed an overlong song montage by Timbaland, who produced Timberlake’s multi-platinum latest “Futuresex/Lovesounds.”
On the gospel-tinged “Losing My Way,” a choir joined the songster via video. On large, sometimes-obtrusive screens that arched over the stages, gospel singers took us to church. Following a slew of naughty moves, Timberlake could’ve used a few ounces of forgiveness.
A fuzzed-out intro fused into groovy hit “Sexyback” before he left the stage. Returning in a plain white T-shirt, Timberlake casually cut into “Dick in a Box” on the piano before abruptly stopping and laughing. Maybe that whole church-y moment got the best of him?
A sizzling 45-minute set from rebellious-rocker Pink fired up the crowd. She opened with the badass “‘Cuz I Can” from her latest disc “I’m Not Dead,” and then ran through a spot-on setlist of oldies and newbies.
With her background dancers dressed as prissy Paris look-a-likes, Pink ripped on chick popsters’ hot air on “Stupid Girls” and sliced into President Bush on acoustic ditty “Dear Mr. President,” which tackles the Iraqi War and gay rights. Her fierce voice drove the ditty to a rip-roaring finale and to overwhelming applause. And then came Pink’s death-defying moment.
As she closed with “Get This Party Started,” Pink, dressed in a one-piece swimsuit, swept, twirled and twisted like an acrobat on two drapes hanging from the Joe’s ceiling – with no net. The best part? Crotch-to-crotch, she did it with another chick. Sexy? Yep. Smutty? Hell yeah.
Justin Timberlake with Pink
Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, A-
Like the blown-up condom bouncing around the main floor of the State Theatre in Detroit, there was no deflating the Scissor Sisters. Though their overlong opening acts, Wigs On A Stick and DJ Sammy Jo, failed to add flair beforehand, when the quintet hit the stage on March 8 the overwhelmingly gay crowd were more than ready to put their already drank drinks to use.
“This is your birthday party, ladies and gentleman,” proclaimed singer Ana Matronic.
As Matronic and lead vocalist Jake Shears opened up about their sexcapades – Matronic noting Shears’ virginity-loss in Toronto – they promoted whore-ism before launching the ho-proclamation “Filthy/Gorgeous.”
Sisters’ lead singer Jake Shears, dressed in tight-fitting rainbow-patterned pants and sporting a sun visor, flew through the stage. He performed vocal acrobatics. He stripped. He claimed to have come in his pants.
The flamboyant act swept through their hit singles like steamy rocker “Music Is The Victim,” the Pink Floyd disco-makeover “Comfortably Numb” and a handful of tunes from their less organic sophomore disc “Ta-Dah.” Shears’ escalating falsetto on the Elton John-sounding ballad “Land Of A Thousand Words” awed the audience and shook up the dance-heavy setlist, which unfortunately also ran short.
After a nearly 90-minute set, the Scissor Sisters closed with the contradictory mind-meandering single “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin'” and the house lights turned on. But we still wanted to shake it.
State Theatre, Detroit, B