Justin Bieber Outperforms Critics — and His Own Image — in Dallas

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Justin Bieber
With Post Malone and Moxie Raia
American Airlines Center, Dallas
Sunday, April 10, 2016

Something interesting happened when a couch came up through the floor during Justin Bieber's visit to American Airlines Center Sunday night. There on one of the cushions was a guitar, and for the next few songs the 22-year-old pop star did away with the smoke, dancers and lasers that filled the rest of the night. As he strummed his way through "Love Yourself," his voice crisp and hitting every high note, one thing came through loud and clear: The haters may have won some battles, but Bieber is winning the war.

Hating Bieber is an all too easy thing to do. From the bratty attitude to the photoshopped bulge to, most recently, the white boy dreads, he may be pop culture's favorite living target for ridicule. People want to see "The Biebs" fail so badly that they're even willing to believe he's moving to Rowlett. (He's not, by the way.) But, unless you're Johnny Manziel, talent usually wins out, and Bieber has it. Lots of it, in fact.

The couch session in the middle of Sunday night's show put that fact into the clearest perspective, as it stripped away all the other distractions. If there'd been room before that to suspect he was relying on his backing tracks, there was no question as he sat on the couch that this was all Bieber, live and in the flesh. But it was by no means an isolated moment.
Surrounded by a troupe of dancers who spun and flipped through the air, Bieber danced, sang and played his way through the spectacle of the night, but he never had any trouble staying the center of attention. He may not have been the best dancer on stage, but that didn't matter; "The Bieber Shuffle" was all he needed. His guitar playing and drum solo were fine, if nothing extraordinary, but that didn't matter either. He did it all with charisma and a wounded puppy pout fixed to his face, which did matter, especially for the teen and pre-teen girls shrieking along at ear-splitting decibels.

The bigger point, however, was that he was not only multifaceted, but that he paid attention to the little things. For all the spectacle — and this was easily the best concert production that's come through Dallas in the past 12 months, better even than Taylor Swift's at AT&T Stadium — Bieber's Purpose Tour was really all about the details. He had heart to hearts with the crowd, introduced the child dancers, gave praise to Jesus and even wore a personalized Cowboys jersey. All likely scripted, of course, but they were thoughtful touches whether you'd like to Belieb it or not.
Rather than simply being insufferable, he's stayed true to himself, and if he has to say "Sorry" for that, well, then he'll make sure to drench himself in water when he does it. He did that, by the way, and not only for the wet T-shirt effect but also, more important, for the figurative cleansing.

So hate on him all you want, but Bieber is here to stay, for a while at the least. He may well blow it at some point, but the polish that he showed on Sunday suggests otherwise. In fact, he might just be getting started.

Mark My Words
Where Are U Now
Get Used to It
I'll Show You
The Feeling
Look at the Stars
Home to Mama
Love Yourself
Been You
No Sense
Hold Tight
No Pressure
As Long as You Love Me
[Drum solo]
Life is Worth Living
What Do You Mean?


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