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Review: Justin Timberlake swooned Portland with the 20/20 Experience Thursday night

Almost 20,000 Portlanders gathered at the Moda Center for Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience Thursday night, including someone who was not as excited as she should have been: me.

I was a little underprepared and hadn’t heard any of his new stuff. Nor did I have very high expectations from him musically.

My love for JT peaked in 2006 when “What Goes Around Comes Around” was playing on the radio — granted it started in 2000 when N Sync released their album No Strings Attached. We had a good run, but my taste in music has since changed. Still, I was feeling nostalgic.

My mom and I showed up in our pink dresses ready to embrace our “basic” side, and “basic” it was: After standing in the drink line for ten minutes, I was informed by a very irritated bartender, “We’re out of cranberry juice.” I told him I was actually going to order an IPA, before quickly changing my mind. “Pineapple juice and vodka, please.”

I was ready to fulfill my preteen dream.

The arena went black, queuing screams from the audience that didn’t stop for the next couple hours. I didn’t think anything could be louder, until silhouettes of an orchestra projected on the stage as the instruments blared a dramatic buildup, the intro of his song “Pusher Love Girl.”

Then, the silhouette we’ve all been waiting for, nonchalantly rolling up the sleeves of his tux like 20,000 people weren’t watching him. If one thing’s for sure, Timberlake knows foreplay. He continued to tease us in shadow form for several minutes before making his grand entrance.

Lights and lasers beamed from the stage, flickering and dancing to the music, while creepy shadow figures moved across the backdrop, which resembled a puzzle of oversized pixels. There were dancers, backup singers and moving platforms on the stage. He continued to ask us to sing the chorus of songs I didn’t know.

From 300 feet away, I was unimpressed. I questioned whether it was really him up there. But not for long.

Timberlake prevailed, impressing and entrancing us with his performance. His vocals and dance moves were flawless, rich and sexy. He moonwalked, he rapped, he played the guitar and the piano. There were undertones of R&B, jazz, country, electronic. Songs that were new and old.

About halfway through the show, he serenaded us with his rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Heart Break Hotel” — a little tip of the hat to his hometown, Memphis. He nailed it.

I wondered out loud, “Justin, is there anything you can’t do?”

And as if we weren’t already hooked, his platform glided over everyone’s head, bringing him closer to those in the back. He spent a few minutes interacting with the audience, even buying someone a tequila shot before downing his own.

About 30 feet away from him at this point, I let myself go. I ditched my mom and ran to the front row with everyone else. I lost my voice. Even the guy next to me said, “Oh my god, he’s right there!!”

Overall, my expectations were exceeded. My love for Justin Timberlake has been restored and if it weren’t so overpriced, I would go again in a heartbeat.

Follow Andrea Harvey on Twitter @andrearharvey

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Andrea Harvey

Andrea Harvey

Andrea is an arts and culture editor for the Emerald, and recent graduate of the UO School of Journalism and Communication.