JUSTIN Timberlake is possibly the most recognizable pop star in the world right now. He's also the most credible.
Last year's 'FutureSex/LoveSounds' LP, a dizzying funk-discoid concept record, saw critics proclaiming him the heir to Prince and Stevie Wonder.
But if the album contained moments of surprising understatement (on Timberlake's current single, 'LoveStoned', for instance, R 'n B beats bleed gently into indie-rock guitar), there's no danger of the artist otherwise known as Trousersnake under-playing his hand in concert.
From beginning to end, the first date in Timberlake's two-night stand at Dublin's RDS, is an eye-watering extravaganza.
As a slow funk bassline rumbles around the heaving venue, Timberlake is shot through a hole in the centre of a hulking four-sided stage. Raffishly dapper in waistcoat, tie, white sneakers and (occasionally) a pork-pie hat, the singer strikes a note of cocktail lounge chic. Flanking him is a vast cast of dancers and backing vocalists, who work the stage's four corners while Timberlake soaks up the love and (let's be honest) unabashed lust that swirls in the air.
Sometimes he strums a guitar or sits at a piano to bash out a salvo of rag-time tempos. He's keen, too, to flaunt his skills as a human beat-box, dropping improvised clicks and booms over 'My Love' and 'Sexy Ladies'. Still, there's no skirting over his boyband past - Timberlake's dance moves are straight out of a BackStreet Boys video circa 1999 and he has the sort of cut-glass falsetto that probably gives Simon Cowell goose-bumps.
Following a bizarre rap cameo by producer Timbaland, Timberlake returns to deliver the closing triple whammy of Britney break-up ballad 'Cry Me A River', 'LoveStoned' and 'SexyBack', a song so preposterously funky it should carry a health warning.