Justin Bieber was the only ticket in town when he played an intimate acoustic #PurposeInTO concert in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Monday night to benefit a food bank in his Stratford hometown.
Amid his own hits, the pop icon thrilled fans with covers of The Beatles, Drake, and Tracy Chapman.
The 21-year-old superstar brought his “An Evening with Justin Bieber” show — a series to celebrate the release of his critically acclaimed new album, Purpose — to the 1,500-capacity Danforth Music Hall in Toronto.
Tickets, which were priced at $100, sold out in under a minute when they went on sale last Tuesday.
Justin’s mother, Pattie Mallette, used the food bank when he was a child growing up in Stratford. Bieber previously gave the center $10,000 in 2011 and signed childhood items that were auctioned on eBay for the center this year.
Fans queued for hours ahead of Danforth opening its doors at 8 p.m. Some slept overnight. Some made home-made collages made up of pictures of the singer and his achievements over the years. Others held identical signs reading “Welcome Home Justin.”
— Bieber Mania Brasil (@biebersmaniabr) December 7, 2015
Even before Bieber took to the stage, fans sang his current hit, “Love Yourself” — currently No.1 in the U.K. and No. 3 on iTunes.
The kids not even in the building yet and it’s on 🔥🔥🔥. pic.twitter.com/sZpz47m7B3
— TC (@TCtourMgmt) December 8, 2015
Dressed in a white top, beige hoodie, ripped black jeans, beanie, and sneakers, Justin greeted the crowd at the start of his show with a “Wassup everybody” and a shout out to his musical director and guitarist Dan Kanter as they got settled on stage.
The heartthrob went on, “It feels good to be back in Canada!” before adding, “I see we’ve got a beautiful crowd tonight. Front row, beautiful. Very beautiful.”
After telling the crowd that he thought intimate shows were special, the Biebs said, “It’s really good to be home, first of all.”
Kicking off the 90 minute concert, which was livestreamed, Justin told the audience, “We’re just going to make this really loose. I don’t really know what I’m going to do.”
“I’m just going to play a bunch of different songs. Maybe take some requests,” Bieber added.
In all, he performed 24 songs (give or take snippets), pulling from the oldest in his catalogue including “Boyfriend,” “Baby,” and other old-school songs. Naturally, bang-up-to-date hits also featured, such as “What Do You Mean?”
Check out the full concert video below.
The latter was Bieber’s first song. He segued into a very personal rendition of “I’ll Show You,” in which he sings about struggling with fame and being judged. The Purpose album title track followed complete with the interlude.
A funny moment came when the young singer forgot the lyrics to the first verse of “Christmas Eve,” from 2011’s Under The Mistletoe. Other festive songs followed, before Justin treated the audience to his recent cover of fellow Canadian Drake’s huge hit “Hotline Bling.”
Everyone sang along to “Love Yourself.” After which, Justin beckoned his 6-year-old brother, Jaxon, in the wings. The cute boy was brought on stage. Cuts from 2013’s Journals came next, then an a capella of the Purpose track, “Trust.”
OMG, THIS IS TOO CUTE pic.twitter.com/IkJNg7UWYJ
— Justin Bieber Daily (@BieberBonerz) December 8, 2015
Then, a big moment for the just turned 16-year-old Raena a.k.a. Twitter user @miraclebiebs. Last night, the birthday girl became the latest OLLG invited on stage for the Biebs’ traditional serenade during “One Less Lonely Girl.”
Inevitably, Raena was adorably emotional onstage, becoming emotional as she hugged the singer and sat onstage while he sang to her.
THIS IS SO CUTE I WANNA CRY pic.twitter.com/cOcdlLtDhE
— ️️️ (@badassbieb) December 8, 2015
At one point, Raena thanked God twice through tears. After the show, the teen took to Twitter to share gushing messages about her experience and retweet posts from fans, most of whom noted their delight that a “true” Belieber was picked.
“@justinbieber I love u more than anything. Supporting you for 7 years PAID OFF. im eternally grateful god bless you,” Raena tweeted after the concert, amid many tweets.
— Justin Bieber Fan (@miraclebiebs) December 8, 2015
Other funny moments included Justin holding up a bra that a fan threw on stage. The singer closed out the final segment of the show with covers of Ne-Yo’s “So Sick,” a medley of “Down To Earth,” “Fast Car, and “One Time,” then “Sorry,” The Beatles’ “Let It Be,” which he played on the piano, the Selena Gomez ode, “Nothing Like Us,” and “As Long As You Love Me” from 2012’s Believe.
During the concert, the Biebs said he was “having the best time right now” at one point on stage. He also told fans they were “special,” and “the best crowd I’ve ever been a part of,” and that he loved them.
Understandably, he said he got “goosebumps” after telling the audience he was nominated for a Grammy Award earlier that day, for “Where Are Ü Now,” his collaboration with Jack Ü’s Skrillex and Diplo.
At one poignant part of the night, before singing “Hold Tight,” Justin said, “I’m not perfect. I’m going to keep messing up, and I’m going to keep falling down, and I’m going to keep getting back up.”
He continued “And it’s up to us as the new generation, as the young generation, to keep standing for what we believe in and not let anybody label us as something.” He went on, “Just be who you want to be, and be yourself, and be kind to people. And let’s just crush this.”
At another part of the show, the comeback star urged fans to be “inspired” by the show and “be the best you can be.”
Danielle Leonard, 15, from Ontario, described Bieber’s benefit show a “once-in-a-lifetime experience,” the Canadian Press reports. She explained, “At shows at the Air Canada Centre and Rogers Centre, they’re not as special as this one.”
Leonard added, “There’s a little amount of people and they’re all worshipping the same person that you are, rather than like 50,000 people being there. Like, he’s actually paying attention to the people in the crowd.”
(6) Another video of Justin Bieber performing at a club in Toronto, Canada. (December 8) pic.twitter.com/fTCDVYAjOz
— JustinBieberCrew.com (@JBCrewdotcom) December 8, 2015
Post-show, Bieber took selfies with some fans and went to a club in the city where he jammed on the mic and initiated toasts.
— brianna (@takecareBri) December 8, 2015
WHEN YOU MEET JUSTIN BIEBER aka THE LOVE OF MY LIFE pic.twitter.com/MzZ3Dl9RIp
— Adina Librach (@adinalibrach) December 8, 2015
With his third Grammy nomination, a No. 1 debut of Purpose on Billboard’s 200 Albums chart, multiple records broken, and ongoing plaudits for his new album, 2015 has been nothing short of a miraculous turnaround for the singer.
As the nightmare years of 2013-14, over-the-top media and general public censure, and talk of his career being over recedes, Bieber’s full circle journey from exile to embraced is both astonishing and thoroughly deserved.
[Michael Peake/Toronto Sun/Sean Chin]