Following his stylish performance at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, where two of his new songs -- "Suit & Tie" and "Pusher Love Girl" -- saw their TV debuts, Justin Timberlake moved the show to the Hollywood Palladium in L.A. to hype his upcoming album, "The 20/20 Experience."
Other than a surprise performance during Super Bowl weekend, this was Timberlake's first major concert appearance since touring his previous album, 2006's multi-platinum "FutureSex/LoveSounds" -- and one of his most exclusive, as the Palladium's 4,000 capacity proves far more intimate than the arenas and stadiums Timberlake could fill with ease.
Immediately, it became apparent that Timberlake's Palladium show was the post-Grammys celebration not to miss.
JT at the Palladium LA! Amazing!!!!
— Queen Latifah (@IAMQUEENLATIFAH) February 11, 2013
"It's the hottest ticket in town, and super hard to get -- everyone wants to go there," explained Cash Money's Jay Sean, who rushed to the theater from the Staples Center in downtown L.A. where the televised awards were being held. Indeed, the V.I.P. areas in the Palladium's Bud Platinum Lounge were soon crowded with boldface notables like Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, Ed Sheeran, Scooter Braun and Timberlake's former N' Sync bandmate Lance Bass. As a result, it became the best place to get insider scuttlebutt on the Grammy Awards, which Jay Sean found more musically inspiring, but culinarily lacking.
"I was hungry as hell at the ceremony -- it's the Grammys, and all they had was just nachos and hot dogs; they need to fix that," Jay Sean explained.
Despite the heavy celebrity and industry presence, Timberlake's Palladium show was intended mostly as a gift to his longstanding fan base; Timberlake even set up a Grammy viewing party for a select group of fans at the nearby W Hotel's Hollywood outpost. By 9:00 p.m., ticket holders had formed a line a block long down Sunset Boulevard, and thronged the entire Palladium parking lot, which was empty of cars to accommodate the crush. For over two and a half hours before showtime, audience members waited patiently, singing along to hip-hop hits like Watch The Throne's "N***as in Paris" and Tupac's "California Love" spun by Timbaland's self-proclaimed "official DJ," Freestyle Steve; as the anticipation grew overwhelming, the crowd began chanting "JT!"
Justin Timberlake is killin RIGHT NOW!Dude ain't playin'!
— KELENDRIA ROWLAND (@KELLYROWLAND) February 11, 2013
At 11:35, a sixteen-piece band took to the stage (including a full horn section and a quartet of backup singers), followed by a tuxedoed Timberlake, replicating the 'Rat Pack' styling of his Grammy appearance, down to the musician stands emblazoned with "JT & the Tennessee Kids."
Bearing an acoustic guitar, Timberlake launched into his smash hit "Let Me Love You" from his breakthrough solo album, 2002's "Justified," kicking off a 14-song set heavy on hits. For nearly an hour-and-a-half, Timberlake played nearly all of his familiar smashes like "Cry Me A River" and "Señorita" along with three selections from "The 20/20 Experience" (including sexy new R&B ballad, "That Girl"), and energetic covers of Michael Jackson's "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" and INXS' "Need You Tonight." From the moment Timberlake appeared, the audience roared its appreciation and didn't let up, going predictably wild whenever the pop icon busted his trademark elastic dance moves during "Rock Your Body" and "My Love."
— Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) February 11, 2013
Excitement proved at an all-time high, though, during the encore. Jay-Z came out to reprise the Grammy performance of "Suit & Tie" from earlier in the evening, while longtime Timberlake creative partner Timbaland bolted onstage for a climactic "SexyBack," during which Timberlake puzzlingly yelled out "I love you, Los Angeles – don't let that stupid f***ing media tell you any different!"
If anything, the media has wholeheartedly embraced Timberlake's live return, along with every element of a massive marketing onslaught that expertly utilized Timberlake's Grammy triumph as launch pad. A new song, "Mirrors," appeared online immediately following Timberlake and Jay-Z's Grammy appearance; as well, two television commercials were broadcast indicating Timberlake's commitment to a series of major branding initiatives – a Target ad highlighting the March 19th release date of "The 20/20 Experience," and a spot for Bud Light Platinum (for which Timberlake was recently named the brand's Creative Director) that stayed on message with the album's sophisticated, retro black-tie imaging.
— Justin Timberlake(@jtimberlake) February 11, 2013