Tag Archives: Justin Timberlake

An Open Letter To Madonna

20 Jan

Dear Madonna,

Last night, we attended your concert in Nashville. Actually, we attended part of your concert in Nashville. The announced starting time was 8:00, and you did not take the stage until 10:30. As someone who has attended numerous concerts, I understand that 8:00 does not mean 8:00. However, it does not usually mean a two-and-a-half hour wait.

Justin Timberlake started at a reasonable time, and he is one of the biggest stars on the planet.

Taylor Swift started at a reasonable time, and she is one of the biggest stars on the planet.

The Rolling Stones started at a reasonable time, and they are one of the greatest Rock bands of all time.

U2 started at a reasonable time, and they are one of the greatest Rock bands of all time.

Elvis, another one of those performers who everyone knows by one name, started at a reasonable time. You call yourself the queen, but everyone called him the King.Rebel Heart

You should understand that it is no longer the 1980s. Your fans are not teenagers. There were a few people wearing leashes, but most of the people in my section looked to be in their 40s and 50s. Most assuredly, they had to get to work the next day. They wanted to have a good time, but they would have liked to have gotten home at a decent time.

You might want to think about this on a more personal level. You are no longer a spring chicken. Plastic surgery and makeup are wonderful things, but I think you could use some beauty sleep.

The part of the concert that we saw was well done. Your band was solid. The stage and props were cool. Your dancers were awesome. You sang and danced well for someone at this point in your career. However, I am not sure you realize what point that is.

You are no longer a cutting edge performer. Except for a few collaborations, you are no longer a hit-making machine. Your success comes from people who buy tickets to your concerts to hear the songs of their youth. This means that they want to hear those songs in their original formats. Elton John calls it the jukebox, and I have heard him say that he is happy to play them. You should take note from Sir Elton and his ability to connect with his fans.

Before the concert, we read that you had some problems in Louisville. You started three hours late, and many people thought you were drunk on stage. After a situation like that, I assumed that you would want to make amends at our show. I was wrong in that assumption. You chose to be unprofessional and start late once again.

Here is a suggestion. If you are not going to play until 10:30, then announce that the concert will start at 9:30. That will prepare everyone for what will happen.

I will give you credit on one thing. You were not drunk on stage. No one could go through that type of choreography and be toasted at the same time. However, I understand why the people in Louisville came to that conclusion. The part of the concert where you banter with the crowd was odd.

You spoke with a fake southern accent, which was worse than your fake British accent. On top of that, it was condescending to your audience. I understand that we are not from a cultured place like Detroit, but we are not hillbillies. We wear shoes, and they sometimes match our leashes. We have teeth, and we do not marry our cousins that often.

You also talked about how you usually wear little clothing and mentioned something about how everyone wants to see you naked. People have not wanted to see you naked since the Reagan administration. Although, I understand that sexuality is part of your act.

Here is another suggestion. Leave the sensuality up to your dancers. They oozed it during the stripping nun routine. While I am on the subject of stripping nuns, I need to say something about your need to have a shock factor.

The bed routine was a nice touch. Having same-sex couples and a topless dancer was interesting. However, it was far from the most shocking thing I have ever seen at a concert. This is a family blog, and I will not go into details. Just know that you need to talk to Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee and the rest of Motley Crue. They know how to shock, and they know how to do it at a decent hour.

You also talked about how your job is to create art and change the world. Actually, that is not true. If you want to use your fortune for great causes, then that is commendable. However, your job is to entertain. In my mind, you, like a great many other performers, are well-paid organ grinder monkeys. Your job is to make the audience happy, and I assure you that many in your audience were not happy.

We left not long after your speech, but we were far from the first ones to leave. That does not count the man behind us who was asleep. Even the drunkest revelers and your biggest fans were fading away.

Odds are that you will never read this, but one of your staff members may stumble upon it while looking for concert reactions. In case that happens, I have a final suggestion.

Respect your audience. During your banter, you mentioned that you are famous. It took a lot of hard work to get where you are, but you are famous because the audience deems you to be. That means that we deserve your respect and should not have to wait for hours to bask in your presence.

In closing, you are a star, but you are not as big a star as you were. You were Madonna. Now, you are Prima Donna. There will come a time when you are just Donna.

I have attended dozens of memorable concerts. Several of those performers I have seen more than once. Rest assured, your concert will be memorable for all the wrong reasons, and I will not be seeing you a second time. For someone with your wealth that probably does not matter. However, that wealth relies heavily on ticket sales. If enough people go away angered, then it may begin to matter.

Sincerely,

Rick

Observations from a Justin Timberlake Concert

22 Dec

Justin Timberlake brought his tour to Nashville, and we went to see him. My wife saw him because she thinks he is one of the greatest humans on the planet. I saw him because my wife thinks he is one of the greatest humans on the planet. I also saw him because he is one of those people who I think a concert addict should see.

The arena was packed, and no one was disappointed. Justin Timberlake is an extraordinary entertainer who can sing, dance and make the crowd feel like they are part of the show. Everything about his band was great. Horns. Backup singers. Dancers. Everyone on stage was top-notch. It was an event more than it was a concert. It was one of those shows that brings out the Who’s Who of the Nashville music industry.

I did not know many of the songs and was lost when he asked the crowd to sing along, but even an old AC/DC fan like me got caught up in the excitement.

With all of that being written, I came away from the concert with a few observations.

1. The 15th row is a great place to sit. When I made up my mind to get tickets, I wanted them to be good and ended up getting them through a package. We had to pick up the tickets at the door and had no idea where they would be. They ended up being in the middle of all the action. We were surrounded by lights and sound.image-18

2. Most of the women dressed as if Justin Timberlake could see them from the stage and, if they look good enough, get invited to leave the arena with him. They must have forgotten that there is a woman named Jessica Biel.

3. On the subject of being seen from the stage, there was a woman in front of us who kept holding up a sign. There were several fancy signs that people had spent a great deal of time making. They lit up. They said cool things. They were close to the stage where he could see them.

The woman in front of us made the sign after she got to the show. On the back of a white poster, she wrote “Grizzlies” with a pen. Justin Timberlake is one of the owners of the Memphis Grizzlies. It was not a sign that he was going to notice, but she was determined to hold it up.

Her friend, realizing that it was blocking the view of others, asked her to take it down. When she refused, the friend forced her to take it down. The woman who made the sign sat down and did not stand up for the rest of the show.

The sign lady was obviously inebriated, and that brings a question to my mind. If someone is blasted at a concert, then have they really been to the concert? People have told me that concerts and other moments in life are better experienced in an altered state. To those people, I say you are full of crap. I will experience concerts and other moments in life with my senses running at their naturally sharp state.

4. Justin Timberlake kept saying how happy he was to be in Tennessee and how it is his favorite state. Every performer says that wherever they are. However, I think he really meant it. After all, he is a native Tennessean, and his band is called the Tennessee Kids. We can excuse the fact that he is from Memphis.

5. He also talked about how great it was to be in the Country Music Capital of the World and fell into the trap that a lot of performers find themselves in. He invited a country artist to the stage. I cannot count all of the concerts I have attended where some local artist joined in on a song. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it does not. The greatest sacrilege was when Vince Gill played guitar alongside Eric Clapton.

Anyway, Justin Timberlake was joined by Garth Brooks. Granted, Garth was a superstar of the last century, but he looked like some bum who walked in off the street. Carrie Underwood was at the concert. I think she would have fit in better with the style of the show.image-19

6. At one point, Justin Timberlake made his way to the center of the arena in one of the coolest ways possible. Half of the stage lifted him up and carried him there. That is when he offered up a few tributes to fallen stars. First, he sang an Elvis Presley song and asked everyone to remember his greatness. Then, he sang a Michael Jackson song and asked everyone to remember him.

On the surface, this made sense. He, like Elvis, is from Memphis and was probably influenced by the presence of his memory. Also, he has probably been influenced by Michael Jackson’s style of performing. He dances. He sings. He is a complete performer.

However, I had the feeling that something else was going on. Elvis was the King of Rock and Roll. Michael was the King of Pop. It could be that Justin wants to be considered the King of whatever today’s music is called. It is a lofty goal but one that I feel he cannot reach.

Elvis was a groundbreaking performer who brought something new to the eyes and ears of the masses. Michael was doing things that his contemporaries could not compete with. Although Justin is an awesome performer, I get the feeling that other performers can put on just as great a show.

None of this is to disparage the show. Justin Timberlake performed one of the best concerts I have ever seen. He is an awesome performer, and I am glad that we got to see him. There are a few people I would see more than once, and he is one of them.

Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry

19 Nov

Living near Nashville has many perks but being around a lot of great music is at the top of the list. You can go almost anywhere and hear talented people. However, there is one place that stands above the rest. The Ryman Auditorium sits downtown and was, for many years, home of the Grand Ole Opry, the radio show that put the music into Music City. I have been to the “Mother Church” many times for many types of concerts, but Friday night brought a completely different experience. Necole and I were able to go backstage at the Ryman for the Grand Ole Opry, which moves back to its home during the offseason.

Our hosts were Dr. Bob and Leslin, his daughter. Leslin was one of my students and has a great blog. They were able to get us in because Dr. Bob is the doctor who many stars see when they have issues with their voice. He knows a lot of performers and was able to provide us with this special experience.

We started the evening with a great meal at Sperry’s, one of Nashville’s dining institutions. Then, we headed to the Ryman. I was worried about getting a parking space because Justin Timberlake was performing across the street, but Dr. Bob and Leslin had that taken care of. We parked in the lot reserved for the Opry performers.

We walked through the alley between the Ryman and Nashville’s famous honky tonks. We made it to the backstage entrance, and the history began to hit me. Country legends had climbed those same steps to perform for a packed house and countless people listening across the nation on WSM radio. When their set was finished, they would walk back down the steps to the bars across the alley. That’s where they would kill time until the second show.

Up the stairs was a man at a desk with a list of names. Once we got past him, we walk through the door and were on the stage. The show had already started. Music was playing, and the crowd was clapping. Immediately, one of the backup singers hugged Dr. Bob and told us to come on up. We ended up standing next to the backup singers. Everyone in the audience could see us. In front of us was the announcer who introduces the acts and reads the commercials. Eventually, he walked over and talked to us.

At the first break in the action, I took a picture of what was going on behind the curtain.Opry 1

Necole and I were amazed at the casual atmosphere. As the music played, people were talking and joking around. It was like a big family reunion. The hallways were small, and people couldn’t help but bump into each other. At one point, Dr. Bob wanted to introduce us to someone. We walked over and had a good conversation about music and life in Middle Tennessee. He asked about our jobs, and we asked about his. Around the corner, Riders in the Sky were practicing, and Necole became more interested in them than the conversation. She had to have a picture, and I took it. I am not great a picture-taking, so the blurriness is the fault of the photographer.Opry 2

Later, the accordion player asked me what I did for a living. When I told him that I was a historian who researched the American West, he nearly fell out. He wanted to talk all about the history of cowboys and their music. That’s when I told him about the magazine I had that listed them as one of the top 50 artists of the Western music genre. He acted like he didn’t know it.

We went back to the stage in time to see an elderly lady perform. The crowd was cheering enough for us to know that she was a major star, but we couldn’t tell who she was. Dr. Bob found out that it was Jean Shephard. None of my group recognized the name, so I got to show them some of my knowledge of music history. She was a big star in the 50s and 60s but faced terrible tragedy. Hawkshaw Hawkins, her husband, died in the same plane crash that killed Patsy Cline.

Eventually, it was time for the last segment, and the host walked into the wings. At first, all we could see was his red coat. When he turned around, we saw that it was Jim Ed Brown, another great star of the past. He sang a few songs before introducing the band that we had come to see – Old Crow Medicine Show. The newest members of the Opry brought down the house with an energetic performance that included “Wagon Wheel“, which was their song before it was Darius Rucker’s.

That’s when Necole and I realized that the guy we talked to earlier (back when Riders in the Sky was practicing) was the lead singer of Old Crow Medicine Show. Everyone around us was taking pictures. This is one that I took.Opry 3

That’s Jim Ed in the red coat, and the announcer standing next to him. The crowd loved Old Crow Medicine Show to the point that Jim Ed gave up his last song for them to be able to sing another one.

After the show, we walked back down the steps and into the alley. People were lined up to get into the honky tonks, and music could be heard coming from all of them. That’s when I realized that the alley is only a few feet across, but there is a long way from those stages to the one we just stood on.