No matter what your opinions are of Justin Bieber, you can’t deny his talent. The 2016 “Purpose World Tour” began on March 9th in Seattle, Washington and is scheduled to conclude on November 29th in London, England. Although it’s 112 shows deep, Bieber clearly loves playing this record and is professional in every sense of the word.
Stop one of two in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 7th was no exception. The last time he was at the Wells Fargo Center was July 17th, 2013 for “The Believe Tour”, and almost 3 years later it seems like a lifetime ago.
It’s clear that now, more than ever, Bieber is in his element. Noticeably, everything about this tour, this “new era” of Bieber if you will, is dramatically different. During one point in the show, Bieber had the lights raised and asked the esthetic crowd their ages, ranging from 12 to 30. Ironically, the under-16 year-olds were the ones who seemed out of place for once, with not one little child too young to even remember the show in sight. It was evident that Bieber’s audience has shifted to 18 and up, even though the shrilling squeals from the audience that occurred every time he blinked were still ever present.
Essentially, Bieber is cutting the crap. He didn’t feel the need to wear stiff, costume-like outfits on stage; he just showed up wearing what you’d probably see him in on the street. He talked to the crowd (in contrast to what’s seen in the media he really does love his fans), but didn’t go overboard with it by making somewhat cheesy introductions to his songs; he just let the music do the talking. The entire “Purpose” album was played, even with a brief throwback to his “Believe” and “My World” days.
When he sang the smash that propelled him to fame, “Baby”, it was almost as if the world forgot he sang that song, because musically he’s now way beyond the “I’ll buy you anything, I’ll buy you any ring” puppy love sound. His music now is mature, singing about real emotions of love, loss, and one’s place in the world. The highlights of the show were when he slowed it down, once on a couch acoustically playing “Home to Mama” and “Love Yourself” on guitar, and then literally laying down on the stage towards the end for his emotional track, “Purpose”. His dancing and upbeat songs are great, but these points are really what makes you stand back and remember that this isn’t an overproduced, pop robot; this is a young man who is born for and devoted to making music that effects people.
Wrapping up the night with “Sorry” featuring rain and a soaking wet Bieber was certainly a high note, but he didn’t have anything to be sorry about. Despite his public struggles leading up to this comeback, it just shows how human he is (cue the lyrics of “I’ll Show You”: “don’t forget that I’m human, don’t forget that I’m real, act like you know me, but you never will”). He made mistakes, learned from them, and is now an even better version of the irresistible Canadian we all fell in love with in 2010.
“Find your purpose”, Bieber requests of his legions of Beliebers seconds before exiting the stage for the final time, because it’s clear he’s found his.