"Which one of you made the phone call to make sure the sun was out today? I appreciate it." - Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake was in fine fettle for his first Irish show in many-a-year last night under the sunshine in Dublin's Phoenix Park. Your writer first saw Timberlake many moons ago on his very first post N-SYNC solo tour and last night's performance suitably illustrates the metamorphosis that JT has undergone throughout the many different acts of his career. Initially marketed as a squeaky clean boyband member, Timberlake has negotiated a winding career path that has brought him success - and a large degree of cultural acceptance - in the realms of movies, fashion and entrepreneurship but can he still hack it in his day job?
Arriving on stage at 9.10pm Timberlake, accompanied by a large brass band, launched straight into an elongated version of his first solo single, 2002's 'Like I Love You'. The show certainly started strongly, as that was followed by further singles 'My Love' and 'Cry Me A River'.
At this point, though, the gig took a turn towards the self-indulgent tone of Timberlake's most recent work, The 20/20 Experience. The album is too long, too drawn out, a feeling which transplants itself to the live songs too. Even the album's more well-known songs like 'Tunnel Vision', 'Mirrors' and 'Suit & Tie' don't yet have the same weight in the setlist as some of JT's more established hits and it was songs like 'SexyBack' that really got the 40,000 strong crowd to move.
Timberlake, whose wife Jessica Biel was watching from the VIP area, seemed to be enjoying the show, frequently taking time to compliment Ireland in one way or another. "You guys have some of the best energy, music and the best beer.....one of the best beers in the world", clearly forgetting for a moment that he has a promotional deal in place with Bud Light.
He can sing; he can dance; he can (sort of) act. JT might well be the modern day Gene Kelly and the thousands of sun-worshippers packed into the Phoenix Park will be glad that there wasn't a hint of singin' in the rain last night.