Pint-sized heartthrob Justin Bieber brought his sold-out Purpose world tour to Rogers Arena last night, electrifying fans with his top-notch dancing and (mostly) live vocals.
It’s been an interesting couple of years for the Biebs – there were the nude photos and the DUI, the monkey abandoning and the house egging. But there was also the release of 2015’s Purpose, a slick collection of grown-up tunes that won the singer his very first Grammy last month.
But is it too late to say sorry now?
Judging by the frenzied crowd response at last night’s Vancouver show, it’s safe to say we’ve still got a pretty healthy (unhealthy?) case of Bieber fever. The singer had the mostly-female crowd on its feet for a 90-minute spectacle that featured pyrotechnics, a rocking drum solo, and a finale that had a shirtless Bieber singing in the rain.
He opened the show with “Mark My Words” while encased in a glass box that hung from the rafters, a la David Blaine. Once safely onstage, Bieber launched into his Jack U-assisted megahit “Where Are U Now?” while 20,000 screaming fans bounced along with the singer and his awesome dancers.
The singer took a break from the breakdancing and grabbed a guitar to perform an acoustic set that included “Love Yourself,” which recently topped Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. A small technical snafu forced Bieber to indulge in some unscripted banter with the crowd while a technician fixed his mic pack.
“So how are you guys feeling?” Bieber asked to huge cheers. “Vancouver’s a really nice place…” he continued before a long, awkward pause. With the technician still fiddling away, Bieber surveyed the crowd and said “don’t you guys wish you had this guy’s job?”
The singer was engaging through out the night, even playful at times. At one point, he swiped a fan’s phone and took a selfie with it, and later invited a girl named Marisa onstage and serenaded her with “One Less Lonely Girl.” The girl was ecstatic but got a round of “boos” from the lonely girls seated in my section.
Bieber’s banter between songs was trivial and unimportant though, and fans looking for a few words of wisdom from their idol had to settle for gems like:
“Be yourself. Just be yourself. Too many people struggle with being themselves. Just be yourself. Just be yourself. Just be yourself. No one can be you. There’s only one you. People say things about me because they don’t know me. Because I choose to be different. Choose to be different. Find your purpose.”
And then he sang “Purpose.”
The clothes were kinda cool – there were five costume changes that found Bieber clad in hipster flannel, a pair of baggy sweatpants featuring his tour’s logo, and an oversized Marilyn Manson t-shirt that read “BIGGER THAN SATAN” across the back. The singer made headlines last year when he wore a Marilyn Manson tee to a church conference in Australia.
Pointing to another Purpose tour logo on his denim jacket, Bieber told the crowd “I want to make sure I can have all you guys rock the same thing I’m wearing. So you can go to merch, and buy this exact thing. It’s pretty cool, and it says “Purpose Tour” on the back.”
So much for all that “just be yourself, just be yourself” crap from earlier.
As for the singing, Justin’s vocals were top-notch… when they were live. He sounded strong on slower album cuts like “Purpose” and “Home To Mama,” but he was clearly going through the motions on uptempo tracks like “As Long As You Love Me” and “Sorry.”
Granted, it’s tough to sing, dance, pout, and rock a brand new nose ring simultaneously, and the folks who shelled out $2,647.25 for front row tickets were more than happy to chime in on background vocals.
The rest of the night featured big hits like “Boyfriend”, a reinvented version of “Baby,” and “What Do You Mean?” during which Bieber and his dancers turned the stage into a makeshift skate park. The singer also performed “Company” while bouncing on a giant trampoline that was suspended over the breathless crowd.
At one point, the Biebs took a brief moment from the theatrics to get a little introspective, but only the way Justin Bieber can (keep in mind that this is the guy who has more than one song about “swag”). Addressing the young crowd, he said:
“I’d like to start off by saying, it’s our job, our responsibility to make sure that the youth…the next generation…are strong, make sure that they’re um, good people. So this next one is for the children.”
And then he sang “Children.”
The show finished with a raucous take on “Sorry” that had Bieber and his backup crew singing and dancing in a rainstorm that flooded the Rogers Arena stage. And after snapping up some swag at merch, his fans left the venue to continue partying in the rainstorm outside.
Bieber’s tour invades Portland on Sunday night.