Justin Bieber is back. The superstar thrilled a thousands-strong crowd at Billboard’s first ever Hot 100 Music Festival on Sunday night, with on point vocals, alpha male moves, and shirtlessness.
The Inquisitr watched the 21-year-old heartthrob’s entire performance on Periscope and saw a returning Prince of Pop take time to connect to the screaming Jones Beach Theater audience, many of whom appeared to be fans. Onstage, the singer said he’d missed them.
“It’s been a while since I’ve done any shows or anything,” the Biebs told excitable fans, as he closed the second night of the inaugural throwdown, with attendance soaring past the record-breaking numbers on the first night to reach 23,000 last night, 40,000 in total.
Rocking a black look of ruched grey, drop-crotch pants, a long black t-shirt, grey hoodie, cap, and bright blue sneakers, the Canadian asked revellers. “You guys miss me?”
“Man, I’ve missed you so much,” the singer added a little later. “It’s so good to be back on this stage.”
Multiple reports state the audience’s response was deafening, and based on what we saw on Periscope, we would agree. Chants of “JUS-TIN! JUS-TIN!” echoed around the Nikon before the charismatic star hit the stage to the intro of 2012’s “Boyfriend.”
Six more songs followed, all back catalog. The exception being the shimmering “Where Are U Now,” the Biebs’ collaboration with Jack U’s Diplo and Skrillex. The latter producer-DJ played the headliner set just before Justin took the stage, and returned later when the pair shut down the festival with their former U.S. top 10 banger.
Justin’s festival turn comes amid the shift-up in gears of his comeback and now four days before his first single “What Do You Mean” drops on August 28 ahead of his new album on November 13. There’s been chatter by some, speculating as to whether the singer has still got it, after a lengthy two-break since his last tour ended in 2013.
Billboard noted he “audibly panted into his microphone, the taxing choreography and vocal gymnastics taking a toll on the pop superstar,” but also said that he “moved and sounded on point in his comeback set.”
Based on videos the Inquisitr watched, the singer romped through Believe album singles deftly enough. A vibey “Boyfriend” with strong vocals segued into a pacey “Beauty and a Beat,” before Justin capped the throwback with a sexy “As Long As You Love Me,” and an acapella vamp out. Sure, there were a few vocal niggles and lyrics fluffs, but these were minor.
At one point, Justin teased the New York crowd and asked if they had any “requests.” He also said, “You guys wanna hear some new music? Well too bad, because I’m playing an old song.” At another, he ollie’d on a skateboard.
For some, a highlight may have been the singer’s detour into his underrated R&B Journals collection, released on iTunes in 2013. During this part of the show, the Biebs pulled up on a stool, accompanied by longtime guitarist, Dan Kanter.
The hitmaker asked for a spotlight to be turned off and asked one upfront reporter to stop snapping. It’s likely no-one but the reporter minded, as what followed was the gorgeously sung “Hold Tight” with vocal runs aplenty, and Justin mopping his head a lot with a white towel.
A fantastic rendition of “Be Alright” was the next offering.
Then, a bpm upgrade. “Hey, if we’re going to go big, I might need some help,” Justin said, looking upwards.
“Skrillex, where you at?” In reply, the EDM titan let loose the opening bars of DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win,” while the Biebs bopped about, before a dead cut into the plaintive, vocal stack opening of “Where Are U Now.”
How was it? Two words: almost flawless. The Biebs’ vocals on the recently-added VMAs Song of the Summer were lovely and definitely live. He raised the ante in the second half of the worldwide hit by taking off his t-shirt for a jump around before the last big drop. Just then, Skrillex — perhaps sensing a moment — called the shirtless Justin to join him on his massive DJ decks.
The ongoing bonding of the Biebs and Sonny Moore, saw the pair silhouetted side by side doing the whip/nae-nae dance as the crowd screamed and giant, lit-up screens flashed all around the Jones Beach theater on the final hook of “Where” before fireworks.
In a way, it’s apt that in a week that may end with Justin catapulting onto Billboard’s Hot 100 chart with his new era single, that this performance was an undeniably, solid revisit to a past he has already left.
Check out videos from Justin and Skrillex’s closer show after the jump.
— SKRILLEX (@Skrillex) August 24, 2015
@Skrillex good times. Now let's finish this album :)
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) August 24, 2015
Had fun tonight!!! Thanks @billboard https://t.co/uzRwNJhIaQ
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) August 24, 2015
[Images AP / Splash News / Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara]