Justin Bieber makes transition into adult pop star but keeps preteen fans
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Watch a slideshow of pictures from the concert.
Dramatic, industrial-themed wings and a suspension system carried Justin Bieber to the stage like a steampunk-pop angel.
He sauntered onto the extended catwalk and into the ecstatic cries of a sold-out audience filled to the rafters with howling girls and preteens.
There were older fans there, too, who joined the rapturous chorus of squeals.
Dressed in white, he shed the wings for hip-hop inspired dance moves as he greeted Tulsa. His dance motor revved hot and promised a ride “All Around the World.”
Each pelvis grab and every finger-point from the Biebs caused an eruption of wails that overpowered the young artist’s vocals. The din is impossible to explain. I imagine it’s much like being underneath a space shuttle prior to launch — but at Chipmunks pitch.
One thing is not arguable: The post-show ringing in ears won’t come from the amps or mic feedback. The pain, the glorious, teen-girl-rite-of-passage ache, is caused by the screaming girls themselves, who quickly rocketed the decibel level well above that of the state-of-the-art sound system.
Bieber let loose with up to a dozen support dancers and at least as many costume changes, including a gold lame, sleeveless, puffy jacket-slash-hoodie. That’s indisputable stage bling on the level of anything as gaudy and loud as Mick Jagger’s donned on stage, for real. Much like how Michael Jackson wore sequined white socks with high-water pants to draw attention to his feet, Bieber often wears red or purple shoes for the same purpose. That, folks, is how proper arena stagewear is done.
His hits included “All Around the World,” “Catching Feelings,” “Eenie Meenie,” “Take You,” “Somebody to Love,” “Love Me Like You Do,” “She Don’t Like the Lights,” “Die in Your Arms,” “Beauty and a Beat,” “One Time,” “Boyfriend” and “Baby.”
His stage presence was assured, moves polished, coyness gone, especially in comparison to his sold-out concert here in 2010. The transformation into an adult soul-pop star, I dare say, is nigh complete.
The 18-year-old Canadian easily muscles his way into the ranks of touring veterans Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and the late Michael Jackson when it comes to dance prowess and mastery of complicated stage production.
And marketing. There were Bieber-themed glow-sticks, lunch boxes, Ts, hoodies, faux VIP lanyards, videos, posters — and the lines to buy them ran into the hundreds. Then there were the in-arena video ads for the Bieber dance video game. His Motorola tie-in ad. And everything else.
There also were those “you can’t be serious” excruciating, overly choreographed moments. How long does it take Bieber to remove a pair of sunglasses indoors? About 15 seconds. A jacket? About a minute.
Overall, though, a Bieber concert is one of pop perfection. Within that construct is an imperative of overtly timed grabs, waves, sighs, googly-eyed thank-you’s and pleas to “make some noise!” And, again, “Make some noiiiise, Tulllsaaa!”
There was the odd moment when a film of Bieber blasted overhead, playing a Bond-like moment when he angrily confronts aggressive paparazzi. It evoked a stilted moment of pause as it likely reminded fans of the violent Jan. 1 death a pap who ran into traffic and died while chasing the star.
There’s a lot of pressure on this kid to do bigger, better things. The adoration could be crushing. Bieber, so far, has mastered it by being himself. That means being human. He threw up on stage once; he’s raced cars; he’s partied … some.
Most of all, though, he obviously works very hard. His isn’t the phoned-in, lip-synced overproduction of, say, Britney Spears. Not even close.
Gold Coast popster Cody Simpson kick started the high-energy night with his youthful tunes in a short set, weighted heavily in bass and electronica, and near-acrobatic dance choreography. He threw the audience into a predictable frenzy as he cast off his blazer and sang with a minimal amount of lip-syncing.
He was followed by “Canadian Idol” Carly Rae Jepsen and her short and sweet set. She brought out Simpson for a duet, “Good Time.”
Jepsen may be most famous for her viral “Call Me Maybe,” but the unexpected treat in this set is her naturally strong, confident, well-honed vocals that belt from her modest frame.
A studded, leopard-print moto jacket, Bettie Page bangs and leather pants don’t camouflage the bright, wholesome, magnetic spirit of this 27-year-old songbird.
Pop star Justin Bieber plays to a sold-out crowd at Tulsa's BOK Center on Wednesday night.