Justin time

The star described as the sexiest man in music made his first UK appearance in Sheffield last night. Lucy Harvey went along to see if Justin Timberlake was worth the hype . . .

HOURS spent carefully penning banner-sized marriage proposals were wasted last night when Justin Timberlake's management refused to let adoring fans take their home-made signs into his show.

But the heartache of having to hand over their designs and gifts to security (who promised to take them to Justin's dressing room) was soon forgotten by the tots, teens and twenty-somethings when the musical man-of-the-moment kicked off his first ever UK show.

Deafening screams welcomed the star to the Hallam FM Arena as he slid on to stage from a fireman's pole.

Clad in white trousers, a black and white leather jacket and fingerless gloves the 22-year-old's entrance did little to quash rumours he is trying to emulate the former King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

But as he strutted his funky stuff to a selection of hits from his chart-topping album Justified, the lad from Memphis, Tenessee, proved there is more to this former Mickey-Mouse-Club-kid than meets the eye.

Justin is undoubtedly the hottest male pop property around but his 'first ever solo show' avoided the stylized sets and scantily-dressed dancers adopted by his peers.

According to JT "it is all about the music'' and apart from earsplitting fireworks to start and end the show, and a nifty trick when he disappeared into a grand piano to reappear on another part of the stage, the show was a showcase of his talents.

Mixing pop with urban hip-hop, dance music and the odd bit of jazz, and accompanied by a live band, it seems Justin is trying to carve a credible career for himself and ensure he is not washed up by the time he is 25.

And his efforts are earning much sought-after respect which most of his peers can only dream of.

His human beat-box impression mid-way through was cleverly orchestrated and temporarily turned the show into a kind of Ministry of Sound.

For the rest of the hour-and-a-quarter his songs had the whole house warbling along and the dance steps which have made him famous were lapped up by his fans.

Justin seemed genuinely pleased to entertain and repeatedly told his Sheffield audience: "It is a pleasure to be here.''

To their delight he added: "England is my home from home as this is the only place my album has got to number one'' - so it looks like after this seven-date tour he will almost definitely be back for more.

Ill-chosen outfits (including a red flat cap and tatty-looking trousers) aside, he gave the audience what they wanted - just Justin.

For some the transition from boyband star and Britney's bloke into a convincing recording artist would be a hard one to make, but Timberlake is working hard to carve his own niche and the crowds Just love it.