The best part of Justin Bieber’s concert Thursday at the SAP Arena in San Jose was when he invited a young woman onstage to tie his floppy blond hair back into a man bun (after he had taken it down.)
The gal got two hugs. It was touching — and more moving than the literal fireworks (not to mention laser lights, smoke blasts, flying acrobats, trampoline jumping, skateboarding) permeating the 100-minute show.
Despite the ongoing flashiness, the 22-year-old, Grammy-winning Canadian pop phenomenon, in town to promote his good fourth studio album “Purpose” on the fifth stop of a 58-date tour, seemed, well, bored.
In front of a cadre of dancers, he did bust a few moves. He shook fans’ hands. He walked back and forth. He patted himself on his chest. He played acoustic guitar sitting on a couch on “Love Yourself” and, after “As Long As You Love Me,” hit the drums for a solo from a dramatic perch atop a riser. His placement in the arena was the most notable thing about it.
For the thousands of mostly female “Beliebers” in the audience, the fact that he showed up was enough, and, when not screaming, it was thrilling to sing along to the “mature” tunes on the new record that prove their guy, in the worldwide spotlight since 2010, is no longer a teenybopper.
Bieber performed most of the songs from “Purpose,” and the ones at the outset — “Mark My Words,” “I’ll Show You” and “The Feeling” — seemed to run into each other. The sound mix was muddled.
It was hard to understand the few words he said to the adoring crowd. He did, however, acknowledge the real children that seemingly showed up onstage from out of nowhere (for the song “Children”) before they had to leave.
Wardrobe changes were interesting. Leaning toward a grunge-rock style, Bieber donned plaid (tied around his waist), a white tank, and a couple of T-shirts, with Misfits and Marilyn Manson logos and images
(Manson took to Twitter to show himself in Bieber “Purpose” togs).
Perhaps the most excitement of all was when Bieber’s shirt was off for “Sorry,” the big dance finale in which his baggy shorts were well below his waist.
Just before, he sat on the floor for a quiet moment, and began the song “Purpose” by telling fans he was lucky was to be with them — but also choosing his own destiny and purpose.
It was a telling comment from the show biz veteran, whose globally news-making extracurricular antics are more exciting than his show.