Dressed in a black button-down short-sleeved shirt, black pants and white sneakers, Justin Timberlake stood center stage at Baltimore Arena, the spotlight shining on him as a packed house of 12,000 fans shrieked and screamed his name. He had just blasted through six of his biggest hits—including “Pusher Love Girl,” “Rock Your Body” and “My Love”—in about 35 minutes without a break, so you couldn’t blame him for toweling his forehead and arms as he finally acknowledged his Charm City fans.
“I’m getting a good look at you guys right now,” Timberlake said as he scanned the crowd.
If you looked away for even a moment of JT’s 20/20 Experience World Tour Monday, you probably missed something. Timberlake, his band The Tennessee Kids, and his backup singers and dancers soared through almost 30 songs over two sets and kept the party going all night with stunning visual and lighting effects.
If you weren’t there, or even if you were and it’s all still a blur, here are 10 things to remember from Timberlake’s Baltimore visit:
- He has fans old and young… The majority of 20-somethings and early-30-somethings in attendance recalled Timberlake’s days with his super group ‘NSync in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but JT is obviously still trending with today’s teens. Those on summer vacation were accompanied by their parents, but one mother actually brought her very young son to show. He likely wasn’t even alive when Timberlake released FutureSex/LoveSounds in 2006, but he proudly wore his JT tour t-shirt and danced to the pre-show DJ.
…and they’ll follow him anywhere. On Monday, the Twitter hashtag #jt2020tour revealed that fans from up and down the East Coast had traveled to Baltimore for a chance to catch The 20/20 Experience. One superfan said she had already seen the show in Las Vegas and planned to catch a future date in Philadelphia.
- He kept the Jay Z connection going. Timberlake teamed with Jay Z for much of 2013, as the duo delivered the The 20/20 Experience lead single “Suit & Tie” and then the summer anthem “Holy Grail” from Jay Z’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail. During their Legends of the Summer stadium tour, Justin and Jay jumped in and out of each other’s hits, and Timberlake kept it going Monday. JT had heads nodding to the hook of “Holy Grail” and he later dropped lyrics from Jay Z’s “Tom Ford” into “Cry Me a River” and then a snippet of “F*ckwithmeyouknowigotit” into “SexyBack.”
- He shared the spotlight. JT soaked in the crowd’s adoration all night, but he took time to send some love to Tennessee Kids trumpet player and Baltimore native Dontae Winslow, who welcomed the cheers from his hometown fans. “One of our Tennessee Kids—Mr. Dontae Winslow—is all the way from Baltimore,” Timberlake announced. “You weren’t lying man; you said (the fans) were going to be crazy!”
- He joined his bandmates. Timberlake rose to pop stardom on his singing and dancing talents he honed for years with ‘NSync, but since then, he’s added instrumental skill to his repertoire. JT jumped on a grand piano for “Until the End of Time” and a keyboard for “Senorita,” while he grabbed an acoustic guitar for “Drink You Away” and “Not a Bad Thing.”
- He showed off his “Saturday Night Live” skills. Before jumping into “Drink You Away,” Timberlake asked the crowd to raise their glasses (if they were old enough to do so). When a fan told JT to join the fun, Timberlake joked, “I can never drink too much? Yes I can. Oh yes I can… Start getting like (accomplished imbiber Matthew) McConaughey up in here.” He had the crowd howling before breaking out his best Wooderson from Dazed and Confused impression: “All right, all right, all right…”
- He was always on the move. Fans thought they had seen it all, but JT pulled off his biggest trick when part of the stage ascended and cruised from the front to the back of Baltimore Arena. As Timberlake and four backup singers flowed through “Let the Groove Get In,” JT got some face time with frenzied fans as the stage moved across the arena. “I told you I’d see you guys!” he said to those sitting in the back, farthest from the main stage.
- He had one for the Birds. Timberlake did grab a drink at one point late in the night, and he searched for something to toast to with his Charm City fans; it quickly came to him. “Did I hear this correctly?” he asked. “The O’s are in first place?? How about a drink to that, Baltimore?”
- He paid homage to his musical idols and influences. The Memphis-born Timberlake honored Memphis legend Elvis Presley with a rockin’ rendition of “Heartbreak Hotel,” before saluting the original King of Pop Michael Jackson with a silky cover of “Human Nature.” And we can’t forget Timberlake’s nod to boy bands of the late 1980s, early 1990s; JT and two backup singers bopped and spun perfectly through Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison,” sending the crowd into hysterics.
- He saved the best for last. Timberlake closed with an epic one-two punch; the bass-blasting “SexyBack” followed by the made-for-arenas-jam “Mirrors.” The crowd sang, rocked, and clapped with him for two final songs, causing Timberlake to drop to his knees and bow his arms to his fans in praise and thanks; they gleefully returned the gesture. As Timberlake descended under the stage, the house lights rose, and 12,000, for the first time all night, collectively caught their breath.
Andrew Cannarsa has been writing professionally for almost 10 years, first as a crime and safety reporter at a community daily newspaper outside Philadelphia, and then as a business reporter at Baltimore Examiner. He graduated with a journalism degree from Boston University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @cannarsa.