Make us your home page

At Tampa concert, Beliebers still belieb

Justin Bieber performs at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday. The show was backloaded with hits, rah-rah choreography and pretty lights. For the hit One Less Lonely Girl, he pulled one really stunned girl from the crowd.


Justin Bieber performs at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday. The show was backloaded with hits, rah-rah choreography and pretty lights. For the hit One Less Lonely Girl, he pulled one really stunned girl from the crowd.

TAMPA — Behold, the archangel Justin Bieber, descending from on high in glorious wings made of white guitars and glued together via tweenage tears of joy! This was not a time to talk about bad-boy press clippings and a future in juvie. Oh no, in a sold-out Tampa Bay Times Forum Thursday, the 19-year-old was all things pure and cutie-pie.

Hooray for denial!

There is the outside world, where Bieber is a daily tabloid debacle of wee-weeing in mop buckets and expectorating wayward loogies and chasing faux puppy-dog glances with nasty disregard for his burgeoning power. And then there is the inside world, his concert, where his baby pictures were flashed and the adorable Canadian squirt, on his best behavior, was surrounded by 15,067 Beliebers who think he's a pop prince.

After short sets by budding scream generators Cody Simpson and Ariana Grande, Bieber flew into our lives just before 9:30, about 30 minutes late. Considering that he's been as much as two hours tardy on this tour, we were fortunate.

If fans were miffed by his broken watch, all was forgiven once the cherub floated over three tiers of stage, video screens, a full band and lusty dancers signifying his now-legal age. Overdressed in white, like the coolest hospital orderly ever, he broke into heavily synthesized dancer All Around the World.

Next: "If you don't mind," he hushed in his wee voice, "I'd like to get a little bit more comfortable." So he stripped down to a tanktop. Not exactly two tickets to the gun show, but hey, the young lasses approved of his physique.

(Personal note: After years of covering Mileys and JoBros, my ability to hear high-pitched caterwauls has been dulled. That said, there aren't many people on the planet who generate a tinnitus-inducing aural freakout like Da Biebs. Even with my shoddy ears, there were moments when the prolonged shrieks from the throngs forced me to travel to a mental happy place filled with burbling streams and cuddly kitten mews. So quiet, so quiet.)

Bieber's been taking hits lately for sluggish gigs. And indeed, his dance moves aren't as fluid and crisp as when we last saw him here, at the Jingle Ball in December. The kid's been working for four straight years; if he's exhausted, that's on his handlers for pushing for more riches.

That said, a ton of money has been pumped into this effects-jacked show, and it's far from a phone job. Plus for all the swoosh of the backing music, his mike was indeed turned on for the tinkly ballad Catching Feelings and the goofy Eeenie Meenie, one of many generic bouncers in his thin catalog.

The show was backloaded with hits, so rah-rah choreography and pretty lights had to carry the show through forgettable stretches of two No. 1 albums, 2010's My World 2.0 and 2012's Believe. There was some acoustic crooning to "Be Alright" and "Fall," as he hovered over the reaching masses in a lift.

Finally, the hits: the likably throbby Beauty and a Beat, complete with Biebs taking to the drum kit. (He'd also play piano and guitar.) For One Less Lonely Girl, he pulled one really stunned girl from the crowd.

For encores of Boyfriend and Baby — performed sans shirt — it was life-affirming pandemonium. And that sound you heard was why Bieber needs to get his act together. It really has nothing to do with him. Just look at the thousands of kids who, at this moment in time, need him to respect them. You're only 19, but sorry, that's the big-boy bargain. You have their hearts in your hands. Do your best. That's all they ask.

At Tampa concert, Beliebers still belieb 08/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 9, 2013 7:44am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Seminole Heights restaurants face struggles amid killings, post-Irma

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The neighborhood's hip circle of popular, well-regarded restaurants is feeling the squeeze in the wake of a recent killing spree. And the timing is rough.

    Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe has been taking precautions in light of the Seminole Heights killings: keeping the lights on all night and having employees walk to their cars in groups.
  2. Josbite goes all out, gets results with annual musical, 'The Threepenny Opera'


    TAMPA — As the house lights dimmed for the second act, burglars and pickpockets, prostitutes and scam artists weaved between the little tables of the Jaeb Theater, warning customers they'd best wind down their talking and silence their phones. This was done with a wink but the point was made. This is elitism …

    Miscreants in Jobsite Theater's The Threepenny Opera, which runs through Nov. 12, include (from left) Amy E. Gray, Jonathan Harrison, Giselle Muise, Chris Jackson, Fo'i Meleah, and Derrick Phillips. Courtesy of Jobsite Theater.
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 24


    On Your Feet: The Broadway musical follows the true story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan's journey as Cuban immigrants coming to America to becoming pop-crossover sensation Miami Sound Machine. 7:30 p.m., Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $45 and up. (813) …

    Alma Cuervo (far left), an Academy of the Holy Names graduate, stars in the upcoming production of "On Your Feet" at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday (Oct. 24). Also pictured, Claudia Yanez (as Rebecca), Christie Prades (as Gloria) and Nancy Ticotin (as Gloria Fajardo). Photo by Matthew Murphy
  4. Hip-hop artist looks to deliver music, monologues with one-woman show


    Tampa hip-hop artist and actress Dynasty takes her career into a new direction Saturday at Stageworks Theatre with her first one-woman show: A Star in Life's Clothing : Life. Love. Language. Lyrics.

    Hip-hop artist and actress Dynasty will present a one-woman show Saturday (Oct. 28) at Stageworks Theatre. Photo courtesy of @JoeyClayStudio.
  5. With volunteers as its heartbeat, annual Hillsborough County Fair grows larger


    DOVER — There's nothing else in the Tampa Bay community quite like the Hillsborough County Fair.

    Retired Tampa police officer Larry Henderson of Seffner sharpens a hewing ax used for squaring wood in the Hometown Hillsborough historical area of the fair. Beside him is a small sampling of the more than 7,000 tools he’s collected over the years.