Justin Timberlake wanted to make clear that he wasn't pandering when he told the crowd at the TD Banknorth Garden Friday night that they were one of the loudest he had heard on his "FutureSex/LoveShow" world tour.
He needn't have worried. The decibel level, not only between songs but during them, shrieked for itself. It seemed that every member of the 18,200 strong sold-out audience was determined to be personally heard by Timberlake throughout the nearly two-hour show.
There was plenty of state-of-the-art spectacle to cheer in Timberlake's return to the Hub in support of "FutureSex/LoveSounds." Elaborate lighting and video schemes drenched the multi-level stage in bright colors and images -- bordello reds for "SexyBack," purple rain for the Prince-ly ballad "Until the End of Time" -- a cadre of dancers joined their leader in breathtakingly fluid choreography, a lively band and backup singers moved with spirit. But as Timberlake switched effortlessly from piano to guitar to toe-twinkling, what was worth hooting about felt more primal and essential than arena fabulousness.
Of course, some find Timberlake sexy, but that allure has less to do with superficial facial features and charisma than what the former Mouseketeer has truly become expert at, balancing self-assurance and humility. Friday night he doled them out in equal measure with hits like "Cry Me a River" and "Rock Your Body."
One minute he couldn't help but grin at his own super-badness: Whether it was the expertly executed slow-motion dance break during "LoveStoned" or the surreptitious interpolation of Ryan Adams's "Come Pick Me Up" into "What Goes Around. . . Comes Around," Timberlake exuded a kind of full-bodied wink that telegraphed his self-satisfaction. The next minute he was earnestly proclaiming wonder at the adoration of the audience: trying at length to explain his gratitude for that loyalty and for his own good fortune.
If Timberlake can maintain that equilibrium, while continuing to make music worth screaming about, he can expect the crowds to get even louder.
The only kink in the show was Timbaland's 20-minute midset DJ break. The superproducer was a delight when joining Justin onstage but, no matter how pumping the beats were, it was a momentum killer.
Good Charlotte opened with an oddly short but sufficiently energetic set of the pop punk that has allowed them to enjoy that which they mocked in the punchy "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." The quartet also stretched their muscles with the dance-oriented rock they've been leaning toward with the throbbing disco beats and falsetto yelps of "I Just Wanna Live." The crowd warmed its vocal cords by showering them with cheers and lead singer Joel Madden expressed awe at the estrogen-heavy crowd, which included pregnant fiancee Nicole Richie.