On Wednesday night (Jan. 31), Justin Timberlake spent his 43rd birthday doing what he loves most: performing. After enjoying his festive homecoming in Memphis last week, the singer headed to New York City’s Irving Plaza for his second One Night Only show.
Zealous fans worldwide, including London, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, came in droves to see the venerable pop star strut across the stage in his “Suit & Tie” while slinging hit after hit like a Verzuz battle. Despite the nippy temperatures, some fans camped outside as early as 5 A.M., waiting to get inside the venue. Many sported vintage NSYNC shirts pledging their allegiance to Justin and the ’90s boy band, while others held signs wishing the group’s leader a happy birthday. One, in particular, hoisted a cardboard sign that read, “It’s my birthday, too, and this was my only plan.”
Thankfully, for that lucky fan, the birthday boy didn’t disappoint, leaving fans entranced by his 17-song performance alongside his band, The Tennessee Kids.
Check out Billboard’s five best moments from Justin Timberlake’s One Night Only NYC show below.
Standing on Business
The affable Timberlake didn’t ruminate about his past or go into detail about his comeback because the small talk was out the window for tonight’s festivities. Upon arrival, he took the audience to Sunday Service with an electric rendition of his new single, “Sanctified.” Sporting a grey suit with a flashy choker draped around his neck, JT and The Tennessee Kids quickly went to work.
Previously debuting during Timberlake’s SNL performance over the weekend, “Sanctified” oozed with soul as JT sang and danced like a man possessed. The Holy Ghost caught wind of The Tennessee Kids and JT’s backup singers, too, as the party of nine hurled themselves to the front of the stage, joining Timberlake in a cathartic song and dance sequence.
Shortly after, JT shook off the church bug and quickly went to his bag of hits, giving a hearty serving of “Sexy Back” and “My Love.” With the crowd hanging onto every word, the birthday boy caught a case of the restless legs, gliding across the stage with verve, strutting his best moves while maintaining excellent breath control.
JT darted past his Man of the Woods blunder and stayed true to his core essentials, which made it easier for his day ones to rally behind this evening. Whether he revisited his NSYNC days and gave fans a sliver of nostalgia with “Gone” and “Girlfriend” or took creative gambles meshing “Summer Love” with Clipse’s “Grindin’,” JT’s boundless attempts to win the crowd over was priceless.
The nimble locomotive never once hit pause, jumping from the keyboard to the guitar. When JT revved his motor back to the Justified era, singing songs like “Like I Love You” and “Senorita,” you could sense his youthful aura from 2002, as he giddily grinned every time he caught a fan reciting his lyrics back to him.
Even when JT’s band took an intermission, he jumped into the crowd and kept the party going, singing some of his most notable features like 50 Cent’s “Ayo Technology” and Snoop Dogg’s “Signs.”
Gifts From Justin
Ahead of his performance, Timberlake’s team airdropped fans an unreleased record from his upcoming album Everything I Thought I Was on their phones to take home. In addition, during the halftime of his set, he treated attendees to a new form called “My Favorite Drug,” which had an upbeat groove and dance sensibilities, encouraging fans to not just “stand around” and move their bodies. Timberlake also treated fans with a performance of his new single “Selfish.”
Jessica Biel Surprises JT
Halfway through his performance, Jessica Biel surprised her husband when she came onstage with a cake. A jovial Timberlake hugged and kissed his wife to much of the crowd’s delight. Fans sang him a happy birthday, and he later blew out his candles after making a wish. Later, Timberlake returned the favor to his wifey when he pointed at her during the show’s final song, “Mirrors,” signaling his allegiance to her.
Justin Pays Homage
As previously mentioned, Justin was on a mission to do it all. Though the night had a party element, there were moments when he slowed things down. He dished out two covers, including Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” and an ode to the city with Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” JT’s vocal abilities made these renditions unique, especially after draining his energy dancing. Slowing down the tempo and delivering a how-to tutorial on covering songs added extra depth to Timberlake’s standout effort.