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If you can move past Justin Bieber’s bizarre stage entrance, flying in on a set of ginormous metal wings to the tune of “All Around the World,” it’s hard not to smile at his show.
Even though a portion of the audience at the teen phenom’s Staples Center bow (read: parents and other such adult guardians) might have been closer to laughing at the sheer absurdity of it all, Bieber’s first of a two-night stint delivered for die-hard Beliebers. Hundreds of thousands of shrieking fans, many donning homemade T-shirts, singing, crying, dancing and, yes, wearing out their vocal cords with screams, turned the downtown L.A. arena into a virtual spaceship from another planet.
Fitting, seeing as Bieber began his set on a futuristic-looking stage ripped right from a sci-fi space film.
No matter which way you slice it, at the end of the day, Bieber’s charm is impossible to deny. And frankly, the kid’s got heart. Merely days after vomiting onstage (and promptly returning to finish out the show) during his tour kickoff in Arizona, Bieber was right back at it without compromising his dance moves and even cracked, “I like not being sick” after “Out of Town Girl” — the song during which he became ill — came and went without incident.
Vocally, Bieber shined the most with an acoustic performance of “Fall,” during which he strummed a guitar while propped up high above the stage. Through the rest of his set, which also included a high-energy if way too brief montage of “One Time,” “Eenie Meenie” and “Somebody to Love,” the singing appeared to take a back seat to the dance moves and pyrotechnics, but audience interaction kept his fans coming back for more.
And in case you forgot about the little kid from Canada who rose to fame on YouTube, he was there, too, but in video form. Before slowing it down with “Love Me Like You Do,” Bieber showed a clip highlighting moments from his astounding career — busking for change on the streets of Stratford, Ontario, fielding countless questions from reporters about his new “grown-up” record — at the conclusion of which the 18-year-old superstar proclaims: “I just wanna be me.”
For the media in the room, Bieber’s evolution was perhaps most apparent in his duet with Carly Rae Jepsen, “Beautiful,” though it had nothing to do with the song.
For the 26-year-old Jepsen, her world was turned upside down after being discovered by Bieber and manager Scooter Braun earlier this year, leading to the summer’s biggest hit song (“Call Me Maybe”) and, now, serving as the opening act on the Believe tour. After calling Jepsen out to the stage, Bieber relayed to the crowd how proud he was of the former Canadian Idol finalist and how she was the first artist he’d ever signed to his Schoolboy Records. And while the tweens in the room probably couldn’t care less about who is signed where, the declaration served as a reminder that behind the bubbly pop insanity lies an ambitious young artist with bigger aspirations than many would give him credit for.
Aside from Jepsen, the only surprise guest at the show was Jaden Smith, who jumped in to assist on the duo’s “Never Say Never.” Were parents Will and Jada in the audience? If there were any stars in attendance (presumably girlfriend Selena Gomez was there, as she’s been with Bieber on the past few stops of his tour), they kept a low profile.
For his encore, Bieber closed out the night on a high note with “Boyfriend” and “Baby,” his two highest-charting singles to date. (Although it’s worth noting — if hard to believe — that even with his growing roster of hit singles, not one has made it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100.)
Tell that to the throngs of kids returning back to planet Earth following the 90-minute concert (likely their first-ever for many in attendance) and they might answer: “You just have to believe.”
All Around the World
Somebody to Love
Love Me Like You Do
She Don’t Like the Lights
Die In Your Arms
Beautiful (duet with Carly Rae Jepsen)
Out Of Town Girl
Never Say Never (featuring Jaden Smith)
Beauty and a Beat (Bieber announced this as his next single)
One Less Lonely Girl
As Long As You Love Me
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@thr.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci
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