Derek Zoolander, the fictional supermodel portrayed by actor Ben Stiller, possesses patented looks that parody the way male models walk around with an air of self-importance. The self-obsessed Derek confidently walks the fashion runway in a daze until he stops to dramatically strike a pose.
Much like Derek Zoolander, pop singer Justin Bieber carries himself as if he’s some kind of outrageously attractive angel sent down from the heavens as a gift to all of womankind. The Calvin Klein ads that played between warm-up acts only reinforced the comparison.
During last night’s 100-minute concert at Quicken Loans Arena, Bieber lip-synced his way through a concert that, despite the lavish production (fireworks and lasers and more) ultimately lacked the kind of immediacy and intensity of a quality live performance. You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here
Amidst a Matrix
-like video treatment, Bieber, clad in ripped-jeans and a designer T-shirt, arrived on stage in a glass box from which he sang the opening tune “Mark My Words,” scrawling notes in crayon on the box’s windows. While it wasn’t possible to see if he was truly singing or just mouthing the words to a backing track, by the concert’s third song, “Get Used to It,” it was apparent he wasn’t even trying to pretend to sing. He often held the microphone by his side during moments when his vocals could be heard in the mix. Throughout the concert, Bieber appeared detached and disinterested. Even his dance moves had a robotic quality to them.
On occasion, he showed a bit of spunk. During an acoustic rendition of the break-up song “Love Yourself,” he sang with a bit more gusto, practically sneering the refrain. And during “Children,” a song he dedicated to the “young kids” in the crowd, he slapped high-fives with a cadre of youngsters who joined the tour’s dancers for the song, telling them they were “awesome” as he let them introduce themselves to the crowd.
But then, he quickly returned to going through the motions, bouncing on a trampoline that was lowered from the venue’s ceiling for “Company” and mumbling his way through the R&B-tinged “Hold Tight.”
As if to prove he’s not just a pretty face surrounded by a live band and some darn good dancers, Bieber took center stage to hammer out a rudimentary drum solo. He’s no Tommy Lee but at least he gave it a good go.
Near the end of the 21-song set, he mimicked the moves of his talented dancers as he turned “Baby” into a rousing dance anthem that had the capacity crowd singing in unison. Before singing the set-closing “Purpose,” he talked about how life isn’t just about having fun. That might be true, but we actually would have preferred it if Bieber appeared to have more fun at last night’s show. Rather, he rarely showed any emotion as he would rather perfunctorily ask patrons if they were having a good time and at one point casually said it was the “best crowd” of the tour, making it clear he says the same damn thing at every tour stop.
Most pop and rock stars would die to have fans as enthusiastic as Bieber’s. Throughout the Q concourse, his fans queued up at merch tables like starving people in a breadline. Bieber, however, didn’t return to the favor as he simply went through the motions, something that suggests he has a long way to go if he wants to be the next Justin Timberlake.