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Concert Reviews:
Bieber Fever Heats Up The Palace
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

AUBURN HILLS -- Sean Kingston's DJ described the Palace as "the loudest place in the world" on Sunday night (Aug. 15) -- and this was even before the first blonde lock of headliner Justin Bieber was visible to the sold-out crowd.

Suffice to say that Bieber Fever registers in decibels as well as degrees -- and went completely off the meter during the Canadian teen star's 95 minutes on stage. And when Bieber's own DJ asked, "Who wants to be Justin Bieber's girlfriend?" Let's just say we now know how strong the Palace roof is.

The 16-year-old Bieber is, of course, the latest manifestation of teen dream mania that's been going on since Frank Sinatra and has continued through decades of lineage -- right up to the Jonas Brothers, who have essentially yielded the crown and scepter to Bieber. With his fresh-scrubbed look, gleaming smile and, well, cute take on urban hipster cool, Bieber actually comes off more like a 21st century Donny Osmond, right down to the puppy love sentiments of his songs.

And if there's a difference in Bieber's popularity it's that he's a more organic, viral discovery rather than a Disney-bred phenomenon, which makes the fan connection to him feel even more genuine and, certainly at the Palace on Sunday, more histrionic.

On his My World Tour -- supporting the chart-topping, platinum "My World 2.0" album -- Bieber is rewarding the faithful with as much eye candy as he can muster, a non-stop spectacle for which the music becomes a beat-heavy soundtrack. Emerging inside a steel sphere with smoke billowing around him and lasers firing into the arena, Bieber started with "Love Me" (as if the fans would do anything but) and was quickly busting low-key moves with his four dancers. "Welcome to my world!" he told the crowd, and that universe included a healthy amount of time spent airborne -- playing two solo acoustic songs ("I'll Never Let You Go" and "Favorite Girl") while hovering over the Palace floor in a heart-shaped carrier, scaling a mock skyscraper during "Somebody to Love" and floating again in an egg-shaped cylinder for "Up."

And when his feet were on the ground, Bieber and his 10-piece band -- including the YouTube discovered backup quartet Legaci -- powered through the choreographed likes of "Bigger," "U-Smile," "Runaway Love," "Somebody To Love," "Never Say Never" and "One Less Lonely Girl" while the Bieber nation sang along to every word. A duet with opener Jessica Jarrell worked as well, although it was a bit hard to buy into the lightly sexual swagger the hightopped-and-hoodied Bieber's affected during the song.

And the show's second half was more problematic, with a lurching pace that began with Legaci's brief medley of pop hits (did we really come to hear snippets of songs by Train, Usher and others?). A quick covers medley of Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' " and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" served as a vehicle to let Bieber introduce band members and dancers -- and also, in a showing of Kid Rock envy, play around on the DJ rig and drum kit. "Eenie Meenie" with Kingston was good fun, at least, and an encore that included a bit of Eminem's "Lose Yourself" before closing with the smash hit "Baby" at least closed the night on a high note -- though the confetti shower came up lame.

Like any teen sensation, we're waiting to see if Bieber turns into Justin Timberlake or 98 Degrees. On Sunday, however, Justin Bieber today was more than enough for those thousands of potential girlfriends.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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