Last night (October 11), Justin Bieber played the first of six shows at London’s O2 Arena, to 20,000 enthused fans. His first UK gig since his controversial and slightly disastrous appearance at this year’s V Festival, the ‘Purpose Tour’ is a completely different story, wowing crowds around the globe. We went down to his first show of the UK leg to see what all the fuss was about.
He’s building a formidable arsenal of bangers
After a lacklustre opener of ‘Mark My Words’, the 90 minute set exploded during second song ‘Where Are Ü Now’, his collaboration with Jack Ü (Skrillex and Diplo), which gave the first taste of his dance-heavy bangers. Whereas his V Festival set saw him skulk around on stage with a face like a slapped arse, Bieber was all smiles as he danced through upbeat crowd pleasers like ‘Children’ and ‘What Do You Mean?’ to a rapturous response.
The acoustic numbers are pretty special
When he drops the pace for an acoustic cover of Major Lazer’s ‘Cold Water’ (which he features on) and his tender ‘Love Yourself’, he pulls them off with remarkable success, proving that he’s no pop puppet, but also a passable guitar player and able to command an audience during intimate moments.
His watery finale is a unique showstopper
You know it’s coming, but that doesn’t make his show-stopping finale – a massive waterfall during ‘Sorry’ – any less impressive. Soaked to bone in a Pearl Jam t-shirt, he skipped gleefully from side to side of the stage to incite near pandemonium on his biggest (and best) single to date.
Read More: Justin Bieber – The Full NME Cover Interview
His banter is poor
Despite travelling the world and getting into a whole load of hijinks, Bieber somehow still has little to say about anything. “What should we talk about?” he asks the fans, before he rattles off about his hair (“Should I get a mohawk? An Afro?”).
He bangs the drums – but not that well
Most of the gimmicks seem apt for the show, but after changing outfits for the third time, Bieber returns on an elevated platform to give a overlong drum solo that adds little to the show other than the realisation that he’s quite an average drummer.
Sign up for the newsletter
The WTF moments
The gigantic trampoline
During ‘Company’, a gigantic second stage hovered over the crowd. The middle comprised of a huge trampoline, enabling him to somersault over the fans. Its ‘Purpose’ is not explained at all.
Predicting The Rapture
At one point during his generally dull onstage chatter, he tells the adoring crowd up in the top seats, “if Jesus comes you’ll be the first to go”. The aftermath is bewilderment, but the brief awkwardness is soon drowned out by a chorus of constant screams.
Telling the crowd to ‘be quiet and listen’
The constant screams and yells of ‘I LOVE YOU’ do appear to be catching up with Biebs. As he settled down for the slower moments (‘Cold Water’ and ‘Love Yourself’), he asks the crowd to “be quiet and listen”. They oblige, but he comes across like a supply teacher trying to assert authority over rebellious toddlers.
Read More: Justin Bieber – ‘Purpose’ Review