It has been over a week since I went to see Justin Timberlake at the Phones4U Arena in Manchester (formerly The Manchester Evening News Arena, which I think sounds much better and doesn’t have a stupid ‘4’ in it, but my opinion in neither here nor there on that).
I’ve been debating whether to share my thoughts on the evening with you or not and I’ve come to the conclusion that it was such a fun night you all need to hear about it.
Just to give you some background, I spent a good deal of my free time as a preteen dancing around my attic bedroom to Justin Timberlake’s music, and before that NSYNC CDs. This was long before I realised I could not dance to save my life and so when I look back on those Sunday afternoons all I can remember is the sheer joy of moving about, unencumbered by self-consciousness or embarrassment. Like any hormonal young girl I found solace in the exaggerated emotion embedded in the lyrics of pop songs. I felt Cry Me a River guys, I really did, even though I had never been in a relationship much less betrayed by my co-relationshipee. It was like my teenage brain was processing the over-emotion and storing it away so I had a framework with which to process my later romantic disappointments.
Am I aggrandising a simple pop album that I used to dance to? Perhaps I am, but at the time when I was listening to it, it felt valuable and it felt important. At that time everything felt valuable and important – I was a very serious, sensitive child. Anyway, what I am trying to say, in a longwinded manner, is that the Justified album is all tied up with the joyful freedoms and emotional expansion of being a teenager.
For birthdays and Christmas presents I would frequently get given concert tickets every time JT was in town and so this year when I turned 25, over ten years after all this began (I feel so old), the last thing I was expecting were two tickets to see Justin Timberlake. And yet that’s what I got. It was so exciting.
When the actual evening came around I took my friend Kirstie with me. I have known her forever so I knew we would have a fun girls’ night out. I couldn’t imagine taking Anthony with me, for some reason.
We met in a bar in the City Centre and caught up over beers and fried food and then we made our way to the arena. I spent a few minutes looking at great swathes of empty seats, worrying that there’d be a poor turnout and the whole evening would lack atmosphere but they quickly filled up and the room was packed. Before I knew it Mr Timberlake himself was dancing on the stage and I was plagued by a new worry – that there was no big screen! The big screen – the saviour of those who like to be seated (I’m old, remember). My worries were soon calmed as the backdrop, made up of hundreds of hexagons became a screen so I could see the marvellous dancing close up. The backdrop also did all sorts of other wonderful things (technical term).
The dancing, as mentioned above, was amazing and I would say it was the best thing about the show. The lighting and set design were also brilliant. There was so much to look at…at one point the front portion of the stage (holding JT and backing dancers) started travelling over the standing crowd towards the opposite end of the arena. Whilst this was an awesome spectacle I did panic that we were about to witness a tragic death, or at the very least a significant injury – the travelling strip of stage was very thin and they were all dancing around on it with wild abandon. The stage eventually moved back to its rightful location and my heart rate slowed. I am extremely safety conscious.
All worries aside, I really enjoyed myself. It was a lovely evening spent with a good friend and on top of that we got to see a handsome man dance and sing songs that I had once danced to in my attic bedroom before I knew I couldn’t dance.