Justin Timberlake – FutureSex / LoveShow Live from Madison Square Garden
Record Label: Jive Records
Release Date: November 20th, 2007
Get on your suits and ties, folks, Justin Timberlake is back. In January of 2013, he released his first new single in over six years entitled “Suit and Tie.” The music world went into a frenzy when news first broke the week prior when JT put up a video called “I’m Ready” on his YouTube channel where he explain why he took a break from music, but he was returning. The single itself is a pretty enjoyable track, but if anything, it’s a teaser as to what his new record The 20/20 Experience will entail. The record drops on March 19th, but in the meantime, I’ve been really getting into his back catalog, and the last thing I had to go was 2007’s FutureSex / LoveShow, which was a live concert from Madison Square Garden in New York. It was shown on HBO in September of 2007, but released in November of the same year, exclusively at Best Buy stores. What’s funny, though, is that I got my copy just a few days ago at Walgreen’s. Regardless, FutureSex / LoveShow was JT’s first solo global concert, and if his sophomore record FutureSex / LoveSounds didn’t project him into global stardom, this tour certainly did. I managed to find a copy of it for $7.99 at Walgreen’s a few days ago, and couldn’t pass up on it. As a huge fan, I was insanely excited to watch it, because I’ve always wanted to see JT live, despite not really getting into him until the last couple of years. This concert really shows what he’s like live, and unsurprising to me, he knows how to put one hell of a show. The concert is over two hours, but it never slows down at any point. It’s always entertaining, and very engaging. JT does more than just interacts with the audience; they become part of the show, and actually feel like they’re getting the full experience. In the bonus disc, JT says that the show is four-dimensional, because there’s no backstage. Of course, you can’t have a great performer / entertainer without great music as well, and JT certainly has that. One of my favorite things about this live DVD is the setlist; the setlist includes a very nice mix of his material, both from 2002’s Justified and 2006’s FutureSex / LoveSounds. In fact, he played hit most popular songs, and played some songs that aren’t so popular, but still fantastic, nonetheless. Another thing about the setlist I loved was that it all flowed together; it all really fit together, and on the bonus disc of the concert, JT explains why he picked every song to go where they were on the setlist, and it’s a very interesting commentary, actually. There wasn’t any point where I got bored, or lost interest. He was engaging and captivating the entire time. His stage presence is absolutely through the roof, in all honesty. There’s a reason he’s one of the best entertainers in pop music today, and this concert certainly cemented that idea. If you’re a diehard fan of JT’s, this is something to check out. It really shows why he’s a great performer, and really shows off his skills live, not only in the studio. In fact, he also says something in the commentary about how a lot of parts played in the show are exactly like in the studio version of the songs, which is absolutely impressive. Going along with that, his vocals are insanely impressive here as well; he can hit the same notes live that he does in the studio and they sound quite similar, with some differences here and there. Those differences are just mainly the backing instrumentation, which is great, too. They really switch up some of the songs to make them very interesting, and unique to the show.
Before the show actually starts, there’s a five-minute interview with JT, the dancers, and the band. This is actually just a compilation of parts from a full interview in the bonus features, but it’s actually pretty interesting. The whole interview is worth watching, but if you want the gist of it, the beginning of the concert is good. After that, the next few minutes is just the dancers and whatnot getting ready before the show starts, and it shows JT also getting ready, and about to go on stage. Finally, the first song begins, which is “FutureSex / LoveSound.” This is a great song to start the show with, in all honesty. JT himself said that this song is great introduction to use because it sets the stage for theme of FutureSex / LoveSounds, but also the whole show in general. And I definitely agree with him there. The stage was dark, but with a red hue, and Justin came onto the stage through a small elevator-like thing under the stage and when he came on stage and started singing, people went absolutely insane. I was only merely watching it on my TV, but that made me quite excited for it, too. “FutureSex / LoveSound” is a great song to start off the show with, because it serves an intro song, as I mentioned, and it just has this very ominous atmosphere. This song also has an electric guitar riff, as a few other tracks do, which is quite different from the album version. This song leads right into the next track “Like I Love You,” which is from Justin’s first record Justified. This song has a very recognizable and memorable acoustic guitar riff that starts off the song, and it’s got a very similar tempo to “FutureSex / LoveSound,” and works quite well. This is one of my lesser favorites of the show, but JT’s stage presence is something to marvel at. He also plays the opening acoustic guitar riff, too. While this track is nice, it doesn’t do much for me, really. Even the regular version didn’t do much for me, so the feelings are reciprocated here. There is a cool dance “breakdown” in the song, as there is in the real version, and JT dances for it, which is really awesome, actually. However, this song leads into the prelude for the song “My Love,” which is one of my favorite JT songs. The song is great, and one of the highlights of the show, mainly because the energy that JT possesses here is absolutely fantastic. Secondly, during the latter half of the song, another dance breakdown occurs, but JT is all by himself, and it really shows off his dancing skills. He’s a wonderful dancer, and showcases it throughout the whole record. That song segways into a bit of an interlude, where JT kind of talks to the audience, and he makes a toast to the audience and the band. That leads into “Senorita,” which is another one of his most popular songs. This leads me to something I really like about this show – he plays all of his most popular songs, but not all at once. Some of them are in the beginning, middle, and end. They’re sprinkled throughout, and this is one of my favorite tracks. He also gets the audience to participate at the very end as well, which is really cool, because this is a track that does have that element. Next track “Sexy Ladies,” is a much more “dance-oriented” track, which means that there’s not very much to take from this song, but JT and the dancers do work their magic here, because there’s a very nice dance “breakdown” in the middle that’s really cool. This leads to my all time favorite JT song, “Until the End of Time.” It’s weird, because this is a ballad, and it shows how versatile he is; he can go from playing a song that’s an energetic as “Sexy Ladies” to slowing it down briefly. This is my favorite song of his, so I’m happy it’s in the first half of the show, which is nice.
The next song is another favorite of mine, as well as fan favorite – “What Goes Around… Comes Around.” This is a seven-minute track that’s all about JT speaking of a relationship gone awry, and how that girl will get what she deserves, basically. This is one of the most energetic songs in the show, too. JT just absolutely slays this track, and that song leads right into the next song (which is the next song on the actual record, too) “Chop Me Up.” This version is slightly different because it doesn’t feature Three Six Mafia, as the regular version does, but it does still feature Timbaland, and he comes up on stage about halfway into the song, and he and JT have an absolute blast. In fact, he and JT beatbox about halfway into the song, and it’s absolutely amazing. Next is the interlude, which has JT and Timbaland talking about the making of FutureSex / LoveSounds, which was quite interesting. He says something in it that’s also very interesting, which is how you, the artist, should be happy with a record, and that’s what matters most. After the interlude, JT plays “Rock Your Body,” another fan favorite, which the crowd went insane for. It’s one of my favorite tracks of his, and also the first glimpse into his more “risque” material. While it’s a great track, it’s not the best here, however. That’s not to say this is a “bad” song, because he’s got great stage presence, and that’s clear throughout the whole show. After this song, it leads into a medley for a few slower songs, which include the NSYNC hit, “Gone,” “Take It from Here,” and “Last Night,” the latter two which appear on Justified. While they’re a nice medley, they do help to take a break from the nonstop energy of the show. The next track, “Damn Girl,” is another track that doesn’t really do much for me (the regular version is a very catchy song, but doesn’t have much substance to it, despite being a very infectious song), but it’s really interesting, because the dancers seem to be on some kind of burlesque show here, and while it’s quite sexual, it’s very subtle and classy, as I’d put it. Definitely the opposite of most pop artists nowadays. This song leads into “Summer Love,” which actually is the next song on the actual record as well, and this is another nice track, because it’s a love song, hence the title, but it’s a very nice track to follow. This song is cool because JT actually interacts with the dancers on this song, and it’s pretty nice to see.
While “Summer Love” is a great song, it’s not my favorite on here, either, or at least, not a standout track. What is, though, is next song “Losing My Way.” This track received a lot of praise from me, because this song is one of the few songs on FutureSex that wasn’t about sex or love. It was about a man overcoming his drug addiction, and it was a very moving song, lyrically. JT takes on the role of a man named Bob, and it’s really heartbreaking to hear this story. What’s cool about this song is that JT had the choir members and violinists records their parts of the song separately, and on film, so they could show it on the large screens, so it would seem like JT had something to interact with. It was great, honestly. This song leads into JT’s second most popular song (after SexyBack, of course, and that does make an appearance, thankfully) “Cry Me a River,” and aside from being a great song in general, this song just gets even better here – there’s an electric guitar riff that’s got a hard rock sound to it being played throughout the song, and it sounds awesome. What’s funny, though, is that JT wanted FutureSex / LoveSounds to be a rock record, but Timbaland didn’t want to alienate his fanbase, so I wonder if he did this on purpose, so he could put a more rock spin on these songs. If so, I love it. He also beatboxes on this song, too, and it’s amazing. That song leads right into “LoveStoned,” which is one of my favorite JT songs, honestly. This is another rather long song, because it features an interlude, but it’s amazing, nonetheless. While this is a great song, it doesn’t do much for me in the live show, minus a really awesome laser show they have in the middle of the song, and JT’s dancing throughout the song as well. Of course, though, you can’t have a JT show without “SexyBack.” This is the song that really brought him more fame, and more respect; it certainly delivers live. Timbaland makes an appearance as well, and he does a great job, too. This is my favorite song on this DVD, aside from “Until the End of the Time,” of course. These two really sum up both moods of this show – sexual/playful and very sincere/down to Earth. JT really can pull both of things off without skipping a beat. Despite having a lot of subtly sexual and poppy material, the songs that are serious don’t deviate from the show, because you can tell he’s very sincere. But with “SexyBack,” this is a very nice representation of his more sexual sound, and it’s just your average pop song, either. He even replicates the distorted vocals that he uses in the actual song, and it sounds awesome. After this, he leaves the stage for a brief moment, but of course, he’s going to come back for an encore, and that encore is “Another Song (All Over Again),” which is the last song on FutureSex, and another ballad, which does serve as a nice outro, because the first song was so radically different, so it’s nice to close on a very quiet note.
After JT leaves the stage, it cuts to the dancers and band members backstage waiting for JT to come out, and suddenly, he comes and opens a couple bottles of champagne, and they spray all over them, which is pretty funny, in all honesty. But all joking aside, he congratulates them on a nice show, and whatnot. Then as the credits roll, more of the beginning interview comes up, and it’s a really nice ending to a great show. Of course that’s not all, though; there is a bonus disc on this DVD that has a lot of things on it. The main things on here are the full interview with JT and the band members/dancers, and a one-on-one commentary with JT about every song on the show. It’s really interesting if you want to hear why he put every song where on the live show, and it also showcases that JT actually had a huge part in making the whole show happen; he had control of the whole show, which goes to show that why he’s a musical genius. This show really shows that, though – he’s a monster of a performer and knows how to dominate a live show. He’s one of those rare artists who have substance backing up their music, and can really bring it. It’s a shame that I really didn’t get into his music for a long time, because I would’ve died to go to this show, seeing how big of a fan I am now. While this show is fantastic, the one thing I would say is that I wouldn’t recommend it to people who are unfamiliar with his work; if you’re a diehard fan, this is something not to pass up on. Even if you’re a casual fan, and want to get into his music more, this is worth checking out, because it shows why he’s one heck of a performer. If anything, this live show gave me much more respect for him, because he’s got genuine talent – no auto-tune, no gimmicks, none of that stuff. It’s an amazing thing. For those of you who say pop music is awful, you’d be incorrect, because this man could easily be the new king of pop.