Justin Timberlake – FutureSex/LoveSounds in Edmonton

Around this time last night I was at Rexall Place to see Justin Timberlake. I was so excited for the concert! Jane, Megan and I got tickets the moment they went on sale months ago, which was good because it sold out almost immediately. We ended up selling two, and Jane’s friend Sarah came so there was four of us in all. That’s right, three gals and one guy. Fairly representative of the audience I’d say – there were far more women than men. Age was much more distributed though.

The place was absolutely packed! And keep in mind this was a concert-in-the-round, which means all 16,000+ seats were filled. Ours were really good, and Jane’s camera worked pretty well in the dark, so here’s a decent shot that she snapped:

This is probably the biggest concert I’ve ever been to, and it was nothing if not a spectacle. Velvet Revolver was quite the show as well, but even it was nothing compared to JT. The lights, stage, screens, smoke, dancers, instruments, everything, it was just awesome. I was really impressed. The one thing that surprised me was how adult-oriented the show was. I remember seeing a few younger kids with their parents, and I’m sure the parents weren’t thrilled with the mostly naked dancers or the heavy gyrating and sexually suggestive dancing.

I think one of the reasons the concert was so good was the venue. As hockey fans will know, Rexall Place is fairly unique. Justin remarked that Edmonton was the loudest crowd of the tour, and even if he was just saying that at first, the resulting noise would have made it true. It was LOUD! Seeing thousands of cameras flash at once was pretty neat, as was seeing thousands of cell phones swaying for the ballad. I really can’t imagine a new hockey arena being any better than Rexall Place…anyway, back to the concert.

I would have been happy if Justin had only sung “What Goes Around…” and called it a night, but fortunately he sang quite a few songs. I particularly liked his rendition of “LoveStoned”. And for the “intermission” there was a special guest – Timbaland! I had heard he wasn’t going to be there, so it was definitely a surprise to see him join JT on stage. He did a number of popular songs like Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” and a few Nelly Furtado songs, and he did the obligatory Aaliyah tribute. He also performed his popular single, “The Way I Are”.

One of the songs Timbaland used in his mix was Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and it really stuck out for me. I think it’s because Justin incorporates a lot of what made MJ successful into his show. Lots of dancing? Check. Fancy footwork? Check. Distinct fashion? Check. Fedora hat? Check. Falsetto? Check. Crotch grab? Check. One needs to be careful when making comparisons to Michael Jackson, and I’m not saying that JT is the new MJ, but I do think he’s smart for adopting some of the trademark aspects of Jackson’s performances.

Justin came back to perform “(Another Song) All Over Again” for the encore, and as he was finishing, a young woman appeared out of nowhere on stage. The security guard looked like he was going to tackle her (how did she sneak by in the first place?) but Justin stuck up his hand, and proceeded to handle the situation extremely well. He got her to help finish the song, but also took the opportunity to call her crazy and tell her “you scared the shit out of me, you know that right?” Heh.

All the dancers, musicians, and backup singers joined JT on stage at the very end for a big group bow which I thought was kinda cool. Then left alone on stage, Justin ran from side to side and waved to the crowd. Much better than some shows I’ve been to, where the performer just disappears.

I had a great time, and I’d wouldn’t hesitate if I got the chance to see JT in concert again!

UPDATE: For those of you with Facebook, this video that Jane uploaded of JT dancing during “My Love” is pretty wicked.

Jacko's verdict a test for online news

Post ImageMichael Jackson was found not guilty on all counts this afternoon in what was probably one of the most anticipated verdicts in history. After seven days of deliberations, the jury in the famed trial found Michael not guilty on all ten felony counts. The reading of the verdict seemed to take quite a while, but some online news sites used the event to test new systems for getting the word out quickly:

While all the major news sites had posted word that a verdict was coming, there was a scramble to find the fastest way to deliver the news that a jury had found the “King of Pop” not guilty of all 10 charges in the closely watched child molestation case.

News sites used the event as a chance to experiment with methods of getting news out quickly. CNN.com, for example, put a scorecardlike page up ahead of the verdict, with a color-coded system in place to mark “guilty” or “not guilty,” as each juror’s specific decision was read.

To be honest, I don’t care about the trial much one way or the other. I hope that Michael stops inviting children to his house, and I hope that people leave him alone. However, considering I spend far more time online than watching TV (I really only watch sports on TV) I think it’s great that CNN, MSNBC and others are experimenting with ways to get the word out faster. Unfortunately my favorite site, Google News, didn’t fare as well:

However, in a sign that automated news sites may have some work to do to catch up with their human-powered counterparts, the Jackson verdict was not prominently featured on the Google News site several minutes after the decision was read.

I don’t see any reason that Google News can’t have a little human editing. In cases like the Michael Jackson trial, it would probably have been a good idea.

Read: CNET News.com