Justin Bieber - review

NIA, Birmingham

Justin Bieber fans will tell you there are two only kinds of people in the world: "Beliebers" and the rest of us. For those who beliebe, it scarcely matters that the record-breaking Canadian (he's apparently the most Googled celebrity on earth) barely looks old enough to buy a shandy, or that his recently shorn hair was the only thing that differentiated him from a million other 17-year-old boys. What does matter tonight is that he's cute, very fluffy and rocks a silver hoodie with cuddly swagger.

On his first UK tour, his support act is Willow Smith, daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett. She and Bieber have a combined age of 27, which must be a first for an arena-tour double-bill. As for her performance – "precocious" doesn't begin to cover it. She may look like she should be out playing hopscotch, but so did Michael Jackson when he was 10. She dispatches three songs, including the hit Whip My Hair, with towering confidence, and departs through big silver doors that should have been labelled: "Be careful what you wish for, kid."

Bieber, whose recently broken voice isn't dissimilar to Smith's, is equally confident, though what boy wouldn't be, knowing every girl in the place is yearning for him? Cannily, he makes each fan feel she's got a chance: his dancers are male – no women on stage to provoke jealousy – and he consistently assures us that he's rarely seen a prettier audience. Twice he straps himself into metal cages that levitate over the crowd, allowing him a better look at the roiling mass of screamers. And one fan gets the ultimate thrill – ushered on stage during One Less Lonely Girl, she receives flowers and a chaste hug. She quivers, hands pressed to her mouth.

"What I like most is to make you smile," Bieber says, introducing U Smile. "Because when you smile, I smile." You don't say – last year he reportedly earned to $100m. If no pop puppy in the world deserves that kind of money, at least this one works his minuscule butt off for it. He puts on a fast-moving, brightly coloured show in which he never stands still. He's so energetic that, along with dancing (less acrobatically than expected) and singing (more tunefully), he plays passable drums and piano, too. A childhood video montage shows the baby Bieber twanging a guitar, reinforcing the message that he's a musician(ish) as well as a pretty face. When all this is over, he could develop into something more interesting, but for now, it's his face that's his fortune..

Contributor

Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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