Justin Timberlake continued his long-awaited return to performing music -- all in support of his label's hip-hop fusion act, FreeSol -- by playing a handful of hits midway through the band's set at New York's Irving Plaza on Thursday night (Sept. 1). The free performance was Timberlake's second in 24 hours, after he played a surprise show with FreeSol at New York's Southern Hospitality on Wednesday.
"I just wanted to take an opportunity to show you a real band with some real music," Timberlake told the tightly packed crowd. The pop superstar began the evening as the keyboardist and backup vocalist for FreeSol, whom he signed to his Tennman record imprint in 2006, but after the group performed songs like their single "Hoodies On, Hat Lows" and a cover of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name," Timberlake took center stage with an acoustic guitar.
The singer played a stripped-down version of his "Justified" smash "Cry Me a River," deferring to the audience for patches of the vocals. Members of FreeSol then joined Timberlake to perform part of "Like I Love You" before the singer halted the action and joked that he was "too old" to play that song.
Before performing "What Goes Around…" and his vocal parts of T.I.'s "Dead and Gone," the "Bad Teacher" and "Friends with Benefits" star told the crowd, "For the record, I'm not trying to be a serious actor, you fuckers. I did two comedies this year!" He then played lead guitar on FreeSol's cover of the Rolling Stones' "Miss You" before returning to the keyboard.
Along with co-directing a pair of FreeSol's music videos, Timberlake executive-produced the band's debut album "No Rules," which is slated for a fall release. The Irving Plaza show was also used to promote 901 Silver Tequila, Timberlake's tequila brand that he launched in 2009.