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By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – American pop singer-songwriter and dancer Justin Timberlake brought the first three days of the 2013 Rock in Rio edition to a close as he headlined the festival’s main stage in Barra da Tijuca’s Cidade do Rock (City of Rock) on Sunday, September 15th.

1st Rock in Rio Weekend Highlights, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Justin Timberlake took over Rock in Rio’s main stage with his showstopping performance on Sunday, September 15th, photo by Alexandre Macieira/Riotour.

Timberlake, who performed with his former group, boy band ‘N Sync in the 2001 edition of Rock in Rio, stuck mostly to his solo material on Sunday night as he opened the show with “Like I Love You”, the 2002 song that marked the beginning of his solo career as the lead single of his debut album, Justified.

The hits continued with “My Love” and “Cry Me a River.” Timberlake also added INXS and Michael Jackson covers to his set.

He instructed the crowd to point two fingers in the air following his cover of The Jacksons’s “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground),” saying “We love you, Michael” in a tribute to the deceased king of pop.

He continued engaging the crowd, as he had done frequently throughout the show, by saying, “This is the greatest city in the world. Am I right? This is the real city of love.”

During the encore, Timberlake played his two most recent singles: “Suit & Tie” and “Mirrors,” from his most recent album, The 20/20 Experience. Timberlake closed the show with his megahit, “SexyBack,” during which the entire crowd of tens of thousands jumped up and down in excitement.

Warming up the stage before Sunday’s grand finale with Timberlake were Grammy Award-winning jazz guitarist George Benson, headlining the Sunset Stage with Ivan Lins, and later Alicia Keys on the main stage.

1st Rock in Rio Weekend Highlights, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Thousands of fans gathered in front of the Palco Mundo, Rock in Rio’s main stage, during Justin Timberlake’s performance on Sunday, photo by Alexandre Macieira/Riotour.

The 2013 Rock in Rio festival began on Friday, September 13th with a tribute to Brazilian singer Cazuza, widely considered one of the country’s best songwriters, featuring a surprise all-star cast of Brazilian musicians including: Ney Matogrosso, Bebel Gilberto, Rogério Flausino, Maria Gadú e Paulo Miklos.

Next Brazilian superstar Ivete Sangalo gave the crowd an energetic performance with David Guetta following with spectacular visuals while he commanded the turntables.

American superstar Beyoncé closed the festival’s opening night with a long set full of hits, several costume changes and video interludes.

On the festival’s second night, Brazilian festival veterans, Capital Inicial, played the main stage, followed by American rockers Thirty Seconds to Mars. Frontman, Jared Leto, performed one of the band’s songs from the festival’s zipline located above the main stage crowd. Next, Florence and the Machine sizzled on stage before Muse closed the night with an exciting riff-heavy show.

Rock in Rio will resume on Thursday, September 19th with Metallica headlining the first of the festival’s two days devoted to metal. Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and Iron Maiden will then respectively headline the festival’s remaining shows on September 20th, 21st and 22nd.

The Rock in Rio festival first took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1985 with over 1.4 million people in attendance. Held again in 1991, 2001, 2011 and 2013, it is one of the largest music festivals in the world.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.

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