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Justin Bieber's "Believe" Tour At Madison Square Garden, Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

OK, Justin, we got it. You want to be the Canadian Michael Jackson. And you are cute enough.  Not as cute as MJ circa Off The Wall, but cute than MJ post-Thriller. And, as became abundantly clear Wednesday night at home of Never Say Never (as your manager Scooter reminded us) Madison Square Garden, you have a loving fanbase to take along with you. Also, you know how to put together a set.  The construction was exactly the same as Neil Young’s just the day before:  two loud halves with  a three song acoustic set in the middle. Of course, Young is too much a pro to leave the audience waiting 70 minutes between the opening act and the main act, the way you did. But, hey, Young isn’t 18 years old.

Finally, you have a handful of very good songs, and though they were mostly played way way way too loud, it was better than the asinine beats tht overwhelmed the rest of your set.

 

But this is why you aren’t and never will be Michael Jackson.

 

1 .You don’t write music and your songs are not very good. It is always first and foremost the songs.

 

2. You appeal to pre and and teen white girls and their Mommies, nobody else likes you.

 

3. You have zero crossover appeal. None whatsoever Among blacks.

 

4. Believe was not a good album and it weighs on your set list and how.

 

5. You can’t dance. Really, there should be  law against you prancing around the stage like an aerobics instructor. Do you know who complimented MJ’s dancing? FRED ASTAIRE… I don’t see anybody complimenting your dancing at all. It is all bend and lift and jump. There is no elegance to the proceedings. And the six dancers surrounding you? They are no better because you have a cheorogrpher who can’t have you embarrassed on stage. What would Bob Fosse do?

 

And MJ is in heaven and JB is floating down from the skies after a (clever clever)  countdown clock gets the fans in the mood. With metallic wings, he reaches the stage to the overlblown bombastic power pop of “All Around the World” and man does the sound suck. Why? It didn’t suck yesterday. Why is the drums so far in the mix. “All Around The world” isn’t much of a song, admittedly, but it isn;t that bad. And wait, Justin has kept us waiting well over an hour for his royal popness, and then, two songs into the set? Videos go up and off he goes for a costume change. What? Why? Come back here… He is back… no he isn’t, yes he is. Three costume changes in 30 minutes? What the hell is that?

 

A little later and it sure feels like the show has hit rock bottom. A dubious ballad, “Catch Feelings” is proof positive that some art can have no redeeming social value. This sucks. This is just terrible. I have seen Justin three times before Wednesday, and he was much better. What a messy, boring, weighty yet weightless set it is. How charmless is Beiber bragging about his ping pong prowess (you just know the band members let him win, don't you?). How indolent and bad mannered is his video with “She Don’t Like the Lights”? How is it possible to make ANYONE FEEL BAD FOR THE PAPARAZI? Justin manages it.

 

The problem with Justin is not that its fans won’t love the set. His fans, the Beliebers absolutely did love it. The problem is it fails miserably at what it sets out to do, crossover anywhere at all. Even when he jumps on a cherry picker and goes round the stadium, while a lone guitarist accompanies him (he even strums some chords to one of them himself). It doesn’t cross over and what it does do isn’t all that great. These two songs are kinder gentle, Justin reminds us of his earliest days strumming a guitar and putting himself on youtube, even plays a little tune. Very nice, but he really wants to be the new MJ.  it is MJ like MJ at Motown25 saying “yeah the oldies were good” before launching into “Billie Jean” with an “but the new ones are better”. For Justin, the old ones are bad and the new ones are worse.

 

Grade: C

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