I’m pretty sure, at 34, I am not Justin Bieber’s target market. In fact, I’m pretty sure myself and reporter Bernice Pontanilla were the oldest people at the MTS Centre who weren’t working or supervising tweens. We were the old ladies in the crowd. You could tell because we were wearing earplugs.
The earplugs, however, didn’t block out what can only be described as a buffet for the eyes that was the Justin Bieber concert Thursday night. Completely sold out, the 18-year-old Canadian superstar trotted out most of his new album, Believe, to screaming, adoring and often crying fans.
The stage, with three levels of gun-metal stairs, platforms and high-def ginormous video screens and panels, hosted the Biebs and his dozen backup dancers, not to mention his band. The video screens pulsed with movie-quality video footage thanks to Jon M. Chu, the man behind the Biebster’s documentary Never Say Never. At least, it did when he wasn’t showing YouTube quality home videos instead. The running theme of the night seemed to be spaceships and angels. Alrighty.
The hardest-working teen in showbiz gyrated, jumped, popped and swooned his way all over stage, bending over to touch out-thrust female hands and flirt with the crowd. Did he scream-bait? Of course. The kid knows how to make the girls freak out. “You love everything I say,” he said at one point, not even pretending to be surprised. “That’s nice.”
And I gotta give him credit – the kid can dance. Man, can he dance. Yeah, he swipes a few moves from Michael Jackson and paid homage to several other artists – there was even a little Fred Astaire in there (ask your grandparents, kids) – but who cares. He pulled it off, except for the constant adjusting of his clothes. (Hey costume folks, get on that. Beibs’ sleeveless white hoodie doesn’t fit.)
What he didn’t pull off was presence. And it’s not really his fault. At a short, slim and still boyish 18, Bieber is trying to move beyond Baby, Baby, Baby to a little more serious Boyfriend role. He doesn’t quite fill the stage yet. But he will.
Biebs was at his best when he was stripped down musically. Standing on a platform rising above the crowd with an acoustic guitar in his hand was the first sincere moment in the concert, and it was jaw-dropping.
It was moments like that, where you realize Justin Bieber is more than a teen heartthrob. He can dance. He can sing. He can play the guitar, the drums, the piano. And as he gets older, and his music continues to mature, I might actually become a Belieber.
As an opening act, the bubbly and cute Carly Rae Jepsen got the crowd going immediately, singing current earworm Good Time halfway through her set and ending with the summer smash hit Call Me Maybe.