Justin Bieber. Cape Town Stadium.
An over 55,000-strong audience, a sold out concert, and an opportunity to put the sculpted soulnessness of Dubai, surprise stage hugs, speeding fines and a possible prosecution on pause.
Affectionately called the ‘Mother City’ by SA’s, security was tight for what was described by national media as one of the biggest weeks in entertainment.
Veteran rockers Bon Jovi’s Because We Can concert descended on Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday pulling in 45,000, followed by Bieber’s Believe show on Wednesday.
Spokesman for the event’s promoters, Big Concerts, Justin van Wyk, previously revealed extra security measures were in place because of the expected young age of those attending.
These included a senior police officer who headed security for the event. More than 1000 private security officials on site plus hundreds of police, traffic and emergency personnel, road closures to control access, strict venue guidelines and arrest for anyone serving alcohol to minors. This was organization on an epic scale, and it seems the overkill paid off.
Despite ‘Beliebers’ camping outside the stadium for hours, and in some cases, a day before the show, while others gathered at the One& Only V&A Waterfront hotel where the singer was/is believed to be staying, there are as yet no reported incidents of trouble.
Many fans skipped school for the event and may incur the wrath of the Western Cape Education Department who warned truants to expect disciplinary action. But from reports coming out of SA, ecstatic fan reaction to the show indicates many deemed the risk of censure worth it.
The Canadian superstar did more than just show up in good time — he was on stage at 8:40 pm, the scheduled show start varies from 20:00 pm to 21:00 pm according to outlets — he raised a little mighty in Cape Town.
At the widely praised Tuesday Bon Jovi concert, the 51-year-old frontman told the crowd:
“I may not be as young as Justin Bieber, or dance as well as Timberlake, but I’ve been around longer than both those guys’ careers combined. And I’m not going anywhere.”
But, aside from a few niggles, the 19-year-old reportedly delivered a thrilling concert that showed Cape Town exactly what the next generation can do. After a 10-minute big screen countdown complete with fireworks and sound effects, an all-white garbed Bieber took center stage to near deafening screams.
Punching out hits such as “One Time,” “Beauty and a Beat,” Somebody To Love,” and “Never Say Never,” reviewers state the crotch-grabbing swagger of the now tautly-toned heartthrob inspired hysteria among the crowd that didn’t dim for lesser knowns like “She Don’t Like The Lights” and an acoustic “Be Alright.”
Highlights of the kinetic 80-minute set included a hand-held camera pan by Bieber as he sang to the masses and his serenading of a young girl named Neli in a traditional moment for “One Less Lonely Girl,” later snapped with manager Scooter Braun who flew in for the show along with Pattie Mallette and family friend Pastor Judah Smith.
Channel 24 states there were reports of some girls fainting in the audience, but officials and staff at the event kept fans hydrated and passed out cups of water.
Reportedly, joyous pandemonium broke out during the home run part of the show.
Tearing through “Boyfriend,” “As Long As You Love Me,” “Baby” and the concert closer “Believe,” a sleeveless vest, white boxer, leather drop-crotch pants clad Bieber signed off holding up his signature heart hand-shape, dutifully copied by waves of (still mostly bright-eyed, the concert ended at 10:15 pm) adoring fans.
To those who had flown in just for the event and the many that camped and screamed at impossible frequencies, quibbles such as the low level of Bieber’s vocals in the sound mix and a missed beat by the drummer in one number were by far exceeded by the spectacular entertainment value of a flat-out-with-bells-on show that delivered.
Sweetest grace note? Times Live reports that the bell at Cape Town’s Wynberg Girls High School was changed yesterday to the melody of “Baby.”
Next stop, Soweto’s FNB stadium in Johannesburg on May 12.