After wowing the world with an early stream of his forthcoming album, "The 20/20 Experience," and several televised performances -- including a 5-night as a guest on 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon' -- it's safe to say that Justin Timberlake doesn't have anything to prove. But at last night's (March 16) SXSW MySpace Secret Show, the singer performed as if he did.
Justin didn't miss one step during the final show of Myspace's three-day SXSW show series, all held at Austin's Coppertank event center. The 12,000-square-foot venue opened its doors at 10PM ET and was already tightly packed within a half hour of Questlove's warm-up DJ set of hip-hop and soul grooves.
Fifteen minutes after midnight, Justin walked out strumming the opening chords of "Like I Love You," donning his signature fedora and a novelty tuxedo shirt. Throughout the set, Justin performed hits from his first two albums (2002's "Justified" and 2006's "FutureSex/LoveSounds") and three songs ("Pusher Love Girl," "That Girl" and Suit & Tie") from his anticipated '20/20' release.
He freshened up the classics with a little personality, occasionally beaking out into hooks from some today's biggest rap songs. The singer rode the opening keys of "Cry My River" into the hook of Juicy J's "Bandz A Make Her Dance." He inserted lines from Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Ni--as in Paris" and Trinidad James' "All Gold Everything" throughout the breaks of his hits.
The audience never stopped singing along in unison; the crowd even organically broke into a "fellas" vs. "ladies" competition to the closing of the Pharrell-produced "Señorita" while Justin simultaneously two stepped and played the keyboard. JT took fans by surprise when he transitioned from a hard-edged, electric guitar-fueled "FutureSex/LoveSounds" into a thrilling cover of INXS' "Need You Tonight."
The singer, who was introduced as the "biggest star in the whole world right now" before taking the stage, closed his 45-minute set with a smooth rendition of "SexyBack," and left everyone in the room pleading for an encore. Sadly, the one more song the crowd wanted never came -- the only complaint from a show whose anticipation and execution proved that JT remains at the top of his game.