Justin Timberlake is a talented guy! While I’m not a big fan of “Top 40” music in general, I enjoy most of Timberlake’s songs.
Plus, the guy can dance! Growing up taking dance lessons and really being into good dancing, I am very appreciative of what he can do. So, when he announced a Philadelphia date for his Man Of The Woods Tour, I figured it was worth the price of admission to see the show. I was looking forward to a true “show” – special effects, dancing, and singing. Did I get my money’s worth? Keep reading to find out.
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The Wells Fargo Center is home to Philadelphia’s indoor sports teams like the Flyers, the 76er’s, and the Soul. It also hosts many concerts throughout the year. If a band is doing an “arena tour” and coming to the Philadelphia area, the Wells Fargo Center is where they will play.
The Wells Fargo Center was built in 1996 to replace The Spectrum, which was where the Flyers and 76er’s originally played. As with many arenas, the naming rights have been bought and sold throughout the years. It started out as the Core States Center, changed to the First Union Center in 1998, changed again to the Wachovia Center in 2003, and finally the Wells Fargo Center in 2013.
The Wells Fargo Center holds around 20,000 for basketball and hockey games. For concerts, depending on the configuration, it can hold an additional thousand or so. The typical set up for a concert has the stage set on the floor in one end of the arena, and either standing general admission or temporary seating on the floor.
Tip #1: As the configuration can change depending on the stage set up of the show, be sure to check on how your specific show will be set up before buying tickets. As an example, we went to see Roger Waters last summer. The set up featured a long screen running down the center of the floor section. For that show, optimum seats would have been on the sides toward the back so you could see the full screen as well as the main stage.
The first concert was held at the arena on August 13, 1996. It was a private concert by Ray Charles, with a crowd of around 12,000. Each person in attendance was given a commemorative key showing that they helped “open” the center. The first public concert held there was Oasis on September 2nd of the same year.
Since its opening, the arena has been home to a number of famous (and infamous) shows. You’ll find banners hanging from the rafters acknowledging Billy Joel’s 48 Philadelphia sell outs, Bruce Springsteen’s 56 Philadelphia sell outs, and Pearl Jam’s “10 show” (which I was lucky enough to attend). On December 6, 2002, Guns N Roses was scheduled to visit the arena on their Chinese Democracy Tour. After the openers played, Guns N Roses never appeared, which led to a riot inside the arena that caused $30-40K worth of damage.
Tip #2: Like many venues, security getting into the Wells Fargo Center has increased over the years. Note that the lines to get through security can be quite long. Give yourself ample time to get in and get seated. Ladies – do yourself a favor and don’t take in a handbag unless absolutely necessary. It just slows down the line.
Tip #3: If you are looking to hang out before the show, just walk over to XFINITY Live. There are several places to grab food and drinks, including Victory Beer Hall and PBR Philly. There are great little areas to sit outside (including several fire pits if the weather is chilly), play corn hole, or just hang out with friends.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
The Shadowboxers were formed in Atlanta, but are now based out of Nashville, TN. Original band members are Adam Hoffman (vocals, guitar), Matt Lipkins (vocals, keyboard) and Scott Tyler (vocals, guitar), who all met at Emory University in 2008. They are joined by bassist Carlos Enamorado and drummer Cole McSween.
The Shadowboxers were discovered by Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls. Saliers met Scott Tyler at a party, and the two started talking about music. Saliers asked Tyler to play some of his songs for her. A year later, the Indigo Girls hit the road and asked The Shadowboxers to be their backing band and opening act. They toured together for two years.
The band released their first EP – The Shadowboxers – in 2011. Using funds they raised on a Kickstarter campaign, the band released their first full-length album – Red Room – in January of 2013.
The story of how The Shadowboxers connected with Justin Timberlake, proves that sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and take a chance. In December of 2013, Adam Hoffman tweeted Justin Timberlake from the band’s Twitter account and told him he should check out their cover of Timberlake’s song “Pusher Love Girl”. Timberlake not only listened to the song, but he tweeted out the video. When they all met in person, Timberlake offered to mentor them and signed them to his artist development label, Villa.
Since signing to Timberlake’s label, The Shadowboxers have recorded and released a number of singles, including “Build the Beat” which has over 2 million streams on Spotify and features Rashawn Ross of the Dave Matthews Band on horns. In March of 2018, the band released an EP – Apollo – featuring many of those singles.
Prior to The Shadowboxers hitting the stage (and in between their set and Timberlake’s) a DJ got the crowd warmed up. Honestly, he was a bit annoying. He spent more time shouting – asking us if we were excited for Justin and asking for two best friends who wanted to get upgraded to the VIP pit – than playing music. His job was clearly to get people excited and up and dancing and screaming in their seats, but it was too repetitive.
The Shadowboxers took the stage at 8:00 p.m. The band reminded me a lot of the boy bands from the ‘90s, which may be why Timberlake has taken the guys under his wing. Their singing was mixed in with a lot of dancing. The set was definitely more about the dancing and interacting with the crowd than playing the instruments.
I tried to keep an open mind during the performance. Since I’m not a big fan of “pop” music, I didn’t want to judge The Shadowboxers by the style of their music, so this was a tough one for me to review.
The Shadowboxers ran through several of their songs, including “Timezone”, which is off their new EP that Timberlake co-produced. They also did a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time”.
As this was the last show of the first leg of Timberlake’s tour, the band thanked him for allowing them to be the opener during the shows. They also flashed up on the screens a number that you could text. The winner was going to be able to go backstage after the show and hang out with them.
The Shadowboxers wrapped up their set at 8:30 p.m. with their song “Hot Damn”. The girls next to me and the ladies behind me seemed to really enjoy them, so I’ll take that as a positive from fans of that genre of music. Give them a chance and check them out yourself.
The Shadowboxers have been opening for Justin Timberlake on his Man of the Woods tour, wrapping up with this Philadelphia show. They are currently scheduled to play a few music festivals this summer. You can keep up to date with them on their website at www.theshadowboxers.com.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Justin Timberlake has been performing since he was a kid. At the age of 11, he appeared on Star Search. From 1993-94, Timberlake was a cast member of The Mickey Mouse Club. That cast also included several other future stars including Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears.
Timberlake got his big break when he was selected to be in the boy band NSYNC. Between 1995 and 2002, NSYNC had huge commercial success with hits like “Tearin’ Up My Heart” and “It’s Gonna Be Me”. You can read more about NSYNC and other popular artists in my blog post about how “hit machines” are made.
By 2002, Timberlake had decided to embark on a solo career. His first solo album – Justifed – debuted at number two on the charts and went on to sell over three million copies in the U.S. and over ten million copies worldwide. During this time, Timberlake started gaining fame outside of his music as well, appearing on shows like “Punk’d” and “Saturday Night Live” (which is where he started his friendship with Jimmy Fallon).
One of Timberlake’s most talked about moments is the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” with Janet Jackson during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.
Between 2004 and 2012, Timberlake mostly focused on his acting career. He did release his second studio album – Future Sex/Love Sounds – in 2006, which included the massive hit “SexyBack”. During this time, he also co-wrote and produced music for several other artists, and appeared as a guest vocalist on songs by artists such as Madonna and Ciara.
In 2013, Timberlake focused on his return to music with the release of his third studio album – The 20/20 Experience. In support of the album, Timberlake embarked on a huge world tour, which was one of the highest grossing tours of the decade.
Timberlake returned to the studio – and to the Super Bowl – in 2018. His fifth studio album – Man Of The Woods – was released in February of this year, just two days before his return to performing during the Super Bowl half-time show (minus Janet Jackson this time). Timberlake is currently on a world tour in support of his most recent album release.
After another round from the DJ, Timberlake took the stage around 9:10 p.m. As the lights dimmed and the stage lit up, Timberlake’s huge band and back-up singers and dancers took the stage. When Timberlake appeared, the crowd went crazy!
He opened up his show with “Filthy” and then “Midnight Summer Jam”.
The set-up of the stage was very creative, and Timberlake and crew utilized the full stage throughout the show. This meant there wasn’t a bad seat in the house, including behind the stage.
There were also plenty of special effects. During the song “Man of the Woods”, grass “grew” on stage to give the appearance of the outdoors.
One of my favorite special effects was the lighting and smoke during “Cry Me a River”. It gave the arena the appearance of it raining with the lights, and the long winding stage actually looked like a river with the smoke effects.
Timberlake did a little shout out to one of Philly’s favorite sons – Will Smith. Before going into “My Love”, he added a little “Fresh Prince of Bel Aire” theme song mash up.
In the middle of the set, Timberlake did a campfire sing-a-long. On the small stage at the back of the floor, a campfire popped up along with “logs” for seats. Timberlake did a few songs acoustically. He also had each of his back-up singers featured on a short snippet of different songs including Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”, Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor”, The Beatles “Come Together”, and John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”.
Fans on the floor got plenty of chances to shake Timberlake’s hand, or have him grab a selfie with them. A few fans really got up close on “Rock Your Body”, when Timberlake and his dancers jumped onto a special lit up dance floor that was set up in the pit area.
Timberlake wrapped up the show with his hit from the movie Trolls – “Can’t Stop the Feeling”. In general, the show was very entertaining with great dancing and special effects. While I would have liked to hear Timberlake sing a little more, I appreciate how tough that is when you are dancing and running around the stage like he did in this production.
You can find out more information about Timberlake, as well as dates for future tour stops at www.justintimberlake.com.
Set List (click on any link to purchase and download the song directly from Amazon): Filthy, Midnight Summer Jam, LoveStoned, SexyBack, Man of the Woods, Higher Higher, Senorita, Suit & Tie, My Love, Cry Me A River, Mirrors, Drink You Away, Flannel (acoustic), Until the End of Time (acoustic), Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover – acoustic), Ex-Factor (Lauryn Hill cover – acoustic), Come Together (The Beatles cover – acoustic), Thank God I’m a Country Boy (John Denver cover – acoustic), Morning Light (acoustic), What Goes Around…. Comes Around (acoustic), Say Something, Montana, Summer Love, Rock Your Body, Supplies, Like I Love You, Can’t Stop the Feeling
Are you a Justin Timberlake fan? Were you at the show? Let’s hear what you thought. Please comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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