Justin Bieber Is in Full Command of His Pop-Star Powers at Toyota Center

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Justin Bieber
Toyota Center
April 9, 2016

Just after 9 p.m. Saturday, Justin Bieber emerged from underneath the stage that had been fashioned for his Houston performance. Shrill screams filled the Toyota Center, all but drowning out the singer-songwriter’s breathy crooning.

Enclosed in a glass box, he was raised a good 30 feet above the stage, where he scribbled on the transparent walls as he implored fans to mark his words, promising to give them his all.

By the end of the song, Bieber had returned underground, only to re-emerge moments later with four backup dancers in tow. Four eventually became 12, with fireworks and flashing lights supplementing their performance of "Where Are U Now."

It was then that the tinnitus kicked in, and my girlfriend and I decided we needed earplugs.

Bieber was later fenced in by what looked like an MMA cage, inside which he performed "I'll Show You," one of the young artist's most honest and introspective songs. Comparing his life to a movie, he sang of his own humanity and imperfections while lamenting the difficulties of attaining fame at a young age and constantly being in the public eye.

Sensual belly dancers and aerial acrobats followed the moment of reflection, with electro-pop star Halsey’s face broadcast on the backing screen during "The Feeling."

Backup dancers later donned Tron-like body suits for "Boyfriend" before Bieber turned it down a notch for acoustic performances of "Home to Mama" and "Love Yourself."

"Company" was preceded by a humble-brag about the companionship afforded to the singer-songwriter when he’s feeling lonely on tour, followed by the manifestation of an elevated trampoline, where Bieber and his crew danced and did flips above the crowd.

Adolescent dancers were brought onstage for "Children," and Bieber even went as far as to tell attendees, "If you don’t like children, I don’t like you." The kids received as much raucous applause as the star of the evening, with each of them greeted, high-fived and hugged by the Canadian pop artist.

Bieber — who had visited the Galleria earlier Saturday, even dancing with an HPD officer — ended his performance with "Sorry," complete with a waterfall that left his entire ensemble dripping wet, pretty much forcing him to remove his shirt to avoid catching a cold. (It was just about then that my tinnitus kicked back in.)

Following in the footsteps of his mentor Usher, Bieber’s performance was just as much about dancing and showmanship as it was about music. And though he made time for "Baby," the adolescent anthem that propelled him to prominence in 2010, the rest of his repertoire spoke for itself Saturday night.

Relying heavily on last year’s Purpose, Biebs displayed the range of an artist closing in on perfecting his sound, one that is far superior to his youthful offerings.

After experiencing one of the most awkward adolescences of any pop star in recent memory, Bieber was bound to grow up some time. If his latest music and Saturday night’s show serve as any indication, he's headed in the right direction.

Mark My Words
Where Are U Now
Get Used To It
I'll Show You
The Feeling
Home to Mama (acoustic)
Love Yourself (acoustic)
Been You
No Sense
Hold Tight
No Pressure
As Long As You Love Me
Drum solo/We Will Rock You (Queen cover)
Life Is Worth Living
What Do You Mean

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.