Justin Bieber kicked off his Purpose World Tour on Wednesday night at the Key Arena in Seattle, Washington.
What followed was a 90-minutes spectacular in which the Biebs, his impressive new band, and dancers stormed through most of his acclaimed, banger-packed latest album Purpose, and a few old classics, on a split level stage to an over 17,000-strong audience.
The highly-anticipated Purpose Tour debut show opened with singer-songwriter Corey Harper, followed by rising diva Moxie Raia as supporting acts. But the Seattle crowd was there for one reason only: to see the Prince of Pop successfully launch his third world tour. And he did so, with aplomb.
On the 2010-11 My World Tour, the then pre-pubescent Bieber rose from under the stage to stand bathed in light inside a lattice egg. On the 2012-13 Believe tour, the pop icon descended to the stage on huge mechanical wings. That angel metaphor would morph into Icarus during that rocky tour. For the Purpose era, things are different.
The show started with a dramatic spoken word playback of the singer falling through space through pillars and graphics, while he talks about faith, overcoming difficulties, and purpose. Images of Greek statues, possibly Gods and Goddesses, and definitely Michelangelo’s naked David were projected on the stage.
The 22-year-old heartthrob then arrives onstage inside a “glass box of emotion” as one U.K. newspaper dubbed it. Justin wore rippled blue jeans, a long grey coat over a plaid sleeveless shirt, a scooped neck white sleeveless vest, and a pair of Adidas Ultra Boost trainers. The singer’s platinum locks were held back in a man bun.
The transparent box was gradually raised from under the stage to way above it while the Biebs writes the lyrics to “Mark My Words” on the walls. Aptly, for the beginning of the show, it’s the first song on his Purpose album.
At the end of the ode to an estranged former lover, Justin puts his hands on the front wall of the box, the Seattle Times notes.
— KeyArena Seattle (@KeyArenaSeattle) March 10, 2016
From there, the hits came thick and fast. Bieber’s Grammy-winning “Where Are U Now” collaboration with Jack U’s Skrillex and Diplo was a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
The EDM-pop jam vamped up the drama when Justin and the dancers were shot into the air via toasters before seguing into the now familiar dance routine.
What does one follow that with? The Purpose show went for the vulnerable with “I’ll Show You,” which sees Bieber address the alienating effect of fame. “I’ve had a couple rough years. But what I think you should tell people when they don’t say you can make it is—I’ll show you,” he told the crowd, Entertainment Weekly’s Marc Snetiker tweeted.
Onstage the performance looked amazing. The pop icon performed the song inside a contained box, which may have been the same glass cage used in the first song (or not), while zooming colored lights were projected onto it. The band, who were located on the higher level of the main stage, sounded tremendous. In fact, they did on every song.
Justin took the mood back up with “Get Used To It.” Like all the songs before, it’s featured on Purpose.
“The Feeling,” the Biebs’ collaboration with indie darling Halsey, was next. The “New Americana” songstress wasn’t at the show, but the duet didn’t suffer for it.
The Key Arena crowd was then treated to the acoustic segment of the show. Justin performed a slightly pitchy, but still emotive, rendition of his former Billboard No 1 smash “Love Yourself” on a sofa while accompanying himself on guitar.
The Seattle audience sang along to every word.
The singer was on surer ground on “Home To Mama,” his duet with Cody Simpson from their duets album, which never saw the light of day.
Electro-R&B Purpose track “Been You” accelerated the concert’s pace, as Justin sang and bopped surrounded by dancers.
This was followed by Bieber’s exhilarating throw down of current single “Company.”
At the mid-point of the song, the singer reeled off two backflips while suspended above the audience mosh pit on a giant trampoline, before just lying there. The crowd loved it.
“No Sense” featuring an absent Travis Scott brought out the Biebs’ OG side and was fun and vibey.
— Jess (@AhoyBieber) March 10, 2016
Old favorite “As Long As You Love Me,” was the next hit on the list, swiftly followed by the sexy “Hold Tight” from Justin’s 2013 Journals project.
“No pressure,” which features Big Sean, was spiced up by a very sexy pas de deux between the Biebs and one of the female dancers during the absent rapper’s bars.
As one might expect, the 2012 hit “Boyfriend” went over well. Then, after a dance break, it was EDM time as the Bieber performed “Children” wearing a Marilyn Manson T-shirt with “Bigger than Satan Bieber” rather hysterically emblazoned on the back. No doubt, the pearl-clutching brigade will be up in arms. And Manson fans.
He was also joined onstage by children picked from the ongoing #PurposeTourChildren dance contest to perform the Skrillex-produced rave-up.
From the kinetic to the sublime, Justin then performed “Life Is Worth Living,” a song about finding faith and not giving up even in the darkest of times.
Thousands of fans waved lights in the air during the song.
— Jess (@AhoyBieber) March 10, 2016
Justin’s performance of the tropical-house mega-hit “What Do You Mean” dialled up the feel-good energy in the show, with the Canadian even flashing a blast of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s “The Carlton” dance at the end. We kid you not.
For the first of the final three songs, the singer went back in time to deliver his 2010 signature hit “Baby.”
A gorgeous rendition of Purpose’s title track followed, which Justin performed at the piano. It was just one of many of the show’s highlights.
During this poignant moment, fans held up signs which read “We Never Left” along with “And Never Will,” in reference to Bieber’s past struggles.
— JustinBieberCrew.com (@JBCrewdotcom) March 10, 2016
For the finale, Justin lip-synced (to avoid electrocution) during a wet and happy rendition of “Sorry,” at the end of which he embraced every dancer onstage. His shirt also came off.
— The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) March 10, 2016
Based of the tsunami of video footage, photos, and tweets of fans and most media attending the opening night and online, Justin Bieber has a credible, hot show on his hands that can only get better as he moves through the next 113 dates on the Purpose Tour’s two legs through North America and Europe.
The cherry? “One Less Lonely Girl” grew up and retired.
— Marc Snetiker (@MarcSnetiker) March 10, 2016
— NME (@NME) March 11, 2016
— UpscaleHype (@UpscaleHype) March 10, 2016
[Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images]