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    concert review

    Justin Timberlake dances the night away at TD Garden

    Justin Timberlake will return to Boston in July.
    Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff
    Justin Timberlake will return to Boston in July.

    Justin Timberlake ended the night on his knees.

    But he wasn’t praying, he was saying thank you. After a thrilling 2½-hour performance at the TD Garden Thursday, Timberlake dropped down and began genuflecting to the sold-out audience of over 13,500 screaming fans.

    If he immediately left the stage and collapsed in a heap it would be no surprise given the amount of energy he expended in what turned out to be a nonstop performance that weaved disparate tempos, textures, moods, and styles into an exhilarating night of sleek pop soul.


    With a stage reaching to both sides of the arena backed by an equally mammoth video screen made up of white honeycomb panels, Timberlake wisely packed it with his crackerjack big band the Tennessee Kids — complete with four backing vocalists and a horn section. The band members’ own contagious exuberance — and that of a sextet of dancers — went a long way toward enlivening the songs that have made Timberlake a star, including tracks from his 2013 double release “The 20/20 Experience,” as well as a handful of judicious covers.

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    Timberlake remains astonishingly fleet of foot as he slid, slipped, whirled, and spun his way through the night, seemingly never breaking a sweat or even creasing his natty white blazer. (Or the black one he wore in the second half.)

    When he was lost in a movement — gliding through “Rock Your Body,” popping through “Like I Love You,” busting the classic Bell Biv Devoe moves on a jamming cover of “Poison” — it was as if you could see the music move through him.

    And those moves came in handy as focal points when the set would occasionally move into blurrier territory. Like a lot of rhythmic top 40 Timberlake has some songs that are free of an articulated melody to grab onto within the rhythmic murk. But if a tune occasionally failed to seize, his feet never stopped dazzling.

    He didn’t skimp on the spectacle either with an entire portion of the front of his stage lifting up and gliding over the heads of the crowd to the back of the arena during “Let the Groove.”


    But regardless of stage stunts, lasers, or visual effects, Timberlake’s show remains a musical one foremost and his musical stagecraft was as impressive as his technical stunts.

    His falsetto was in impeccable form on the highs of “Cry Me a River” and “My Love” — a symphony of hitching synths — and he injected some southern soul into the bottom of the bottle lament “Drink You Away.” He stripped “What Goes Around Come Around” to a smooth acoustic essence, swiveled his way through Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel,” and brought “SexyBack” with a convincing stomp.

    Timberlake returns to the TD Garden July 19.

    Sarah Rodman can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman