Justin Timberlake goes glamping on ‘Man of the Woods’


Justin Timberlake has taken to wearing flannel shirts and having himself photographed in the middle of streams to get the word out on his fifth studio album, “Man of the Woods.” But those expecting a Bon Iver-style musical makeover from the multi-hyphenated star will be let down. Timberlake, 37, is a crowd-pleaser at heart and “Man of the Woods” hardly finds him swerving from his mission. Working once again with his most trusted platinum-certified collaborators — Timbaland, Danja and the Neptunes — the Memphis native offers a grab bag of styles, from country and funk to, er, country-funk with his increasingly breathless falsetto front and center on standout tracks like “Midnight Summer’s Jam” and “Supplies.” It’s everything you want from Timberlake, minus the beard. — Aidin Vaziri


The Woman Who Saved Oasis

melissa.jpgAidin Vaziri | Melissa Lim remembers the first time she locked eyes with Noel Gallagher, the lead guitarist of Oasis. It was backstage at the Bottom of the Hill on Sept. 26, 1994, where the quarrelsome British rock band was making its San Francisco live debut in support of its platinum-selling first album, “Definitely Maybe.”

“He came over and sat down next to me,” she says. “I had never been backstage before, so I asked him, ‘Where’s the afterparty?’ And he goes, ‘What afterparty? Can I hang out with you tonight?’”

The encounter would play a major part in the group’s formative years, chronicled in the action-packed new documentary, “Supersonic” (from the makers of “Amy”), which hit U.S. theaters last month.

Three days later, after a disastrous concert at the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles — where the band members were high on crystal meth and saddled with mismatched set lists — things came to a head. Gallagher was struck in the face by a tambourine hurled by younger brother Liam, and decided he’d had enough.

Gallagher grabbed his passport, boarded a plane to San Francisco and reportedly went into hiding at Lim’s apartment in lower Nob Hill.

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Live Review: Drake in Oakland


Drake had a lot of love for the Bay Area on Tuesday night, Sept. 13, at the first of his two shows at Oakland’s Oracle Arena.

Not only did he show up wearing a crisp Warriors jersey bearing Kevin Durant’s name and No. 35 — he brought out Golden State’s headline-grabbing offseason addition in person for a quick whirl around the stage later in the night.

“This is the best crowd you could ask for,” Drake boasted, pacing in front of the sold-out audience of 15,000 and laying it on thicker than usual.

“I had 60 shows to pick from, and I put my money on tonight!”

With the screen behind him blazing with the word “Revenge,” the Toronto rapper set out an ornery, angry course for his two-hour-plus set at the home of the Warriors, providing a pointed retort to the question: What does the underdog do once he gets the crown?

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Aretha Franklin at Oracle Arena


When Aretha Franklin sits at the piano, grown men break down and cry.

On Monday night, Aug. 10, at Oracle Arena in Oakland, the undisputed Queen of Soul played her first Bay Area show in nearly 40 years, and it was a momentous, emotional occasion for fans who never thought they would see her live again.

Backed by a dynamic band that included a 10-piece horn section, the 73-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee shimmered in a silver sequined gown, eyes closed, arms raised to the heavens as she worked her way through a career-spanning set that included R&B staples like “Think” and “Chain of Fools,” which after all these years still retain their urgency and soul.

Five years after Franklin was sidelined by a serious illness — the details of which were never publicly disclosed — she looked fighting fit. Her voice soared, warm and commanding with a hint of rasp, even through those negligible ’80s hits like “Jump to It” and “Freeway of Love.”

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Pop Quiz: James Bay

Q: You must get tremendous satisfaction from getting to come here and play a sold-out tour, considering the critics back home ravaged the album.

A: The way it’s been received is way more than I could have hoped for. People know all the songs. They bought the album. They sing along. It does mean more. Hype is just a bizarre thing. It’s never going to be quite as real as actual people showing up and singing your songs back to you.

Q: You’re playing small rooms on this tour, but you also toured with Hozier and played Hyde Park with the Rolling Stones. Where do you feel most at home?

A: Everywhere I am, I enjoy the show. I just want to go bigger with it. That’s my main feeling. It’s the greatest thing about the job. No matter where I play, I like to reach the people in the back of the room — make it feel like an event.

Q: What about when your hat starts getting its own seat in first class like Bono’s?

A: Let’s talk about it then.

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Beyoncé and Jay Z at AT&T Park


Aidin Vaziri | Beyoncé and Jay Z’s much anticipated On the Run stadium tour came crashing into San Francisco on Tuesday to close out its North American leg with a two-night stand at AT&T Park. Amid rumors of lukewarm tickets sales and imminent divorce, the designer-clad power couple still drew a capacity crowd and tolerated each other long enough to share the stage for an epic 2 1/2-hour performance that included more than 40 songs, plenty of pyrotechnics and some light intimacy. As we settled into our seat at the center of it all, we came away with these observations:

1. It was loud. The minute the music kicked in, people started to complain about the volume of the concert – people who weren’t even in the same ZIP code as AT&T Park. In city neighborhoods as far reaching as the Mission, Hayes Valley and Potrero Hill, they grumbled vehemently in 140 characters or less about the thump-thump-thump of muddled beats emanating from the stage. Being some 20 yards away from the source of the noise, our withering ears could certainly relate. But not everyone was displeased. “If they’re doing this again tomorrow, I’m getting burritos and beer so I can enjoy this right,” tweeted Oscar Villalon, a former Chronicle book editor, from several miles away.

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Pop Quiz: Josh Groban


Aidin Vaziri | To celebrate the recent No. 1 debut of his latest album, “All That Echoes,” Josh Groban is going to play his coming tour dates in the round. Even though the 360-stage experience has typically been the domain of flashy pop stars such as Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé, the 32-year-old baritone (or is it tenor?) is confident he can make good use of the space. “The kind of show I want to do is more Sinatra at the Garden,” Groban said the other day. He performs next Sunday at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento and Oct. 7 at San Jose’s SAP Center.

Q: On this tour, you’re performing in the round. Do you have the moves to perform in the round?

A: Can I walk in a circle? I’m doing it right now, in fact. My last tour there was a little satellite stage in the middle of the arena, and we could feel the shift in energy when I would go out there to sing. There was nowhere to hide. If you get it right, it’s unforgettable.

Q: On this album, you worked with Rob Cavallo, who produced Green Day and My Chemical Romance. Are you trashing hotel rooms now?

A: Yeah, sure. I will order up that fruit bowl and throw a banana peel against the toilet. I don’t even know how to trash a hotel room. I’m a fan of all kinds of music. There’s been no goal to switch lanes. I just like guys who are open-minded and brilliant.

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