Justin Bieber’s much anticipated first concert at Dubai’s Sevens Stadium has drawn a mixed reception of praise and criticism.
Young fans and their parents at the sold out Saturday concert (albeit one stand was reportedly empty) took to booing after they waited 90 minutes for the teen star to arrive onstage.
Dubai media outlets report the over 15,000-strong audience began filling the stadium at 5.30 pm when the gates opened, but the excitement and squealing for Bieber turned to boos when he still hadn’t made an appearance by 9.15 pm.
Between 8-10 pm, concert organizers Done Events, announced to the restless crowd that the singer “was on his way”, Al-Arabiya reports.
Bieber, who attended a fan ‘Meet and Greet’ before the concert and presumably needed time to change, reportedly eventually took to the stage at 10.06 pm.
In Dubai, Sunday is a school day so parents were left irate at the late start.
One parent, Rachael Quborsi told Sky News that 11-year-old daughter returned home from the concert at 12.45 am local time.
“I think it is disgusting that he can be over two hours late and he keeps on doing it. Who do these pop stars think they are?” Ms. Quborsi raged.
Another parent, Eddie Bradley, who lives in Dubai, echoed that anger.
“Clearly having done this in London,” the parent told Sky,”and being slated for it has made no difference to this performer and his management team. My wife and nine-year-old daughter, along with friends have been waiting for four hours at the venue for the concert to start.”
“We are disgusted by this lack of consideration for paying fans many of whom should be in bed by now in readiness for school.”
Back on March 4, at the opening night of his four-date residency at London’s 02 Arena, Bieber was also booed before he arrived late onstage.
As a result, many parents were left waiting outside the venue for what has been widely reported as two hours (Note: the singer and 02 organizers later said that the delay was 49 minutes), while others were forced to leave the concert early to make last transports on a school night.
So, what of the Dubai show? For days the city has been bracing for what Time Out Dubai dubbed the “biggest music act ever to visit the emirates.” A reported 40% of the audience have reportedly flown in for Bieber’s UAE debut.
Dubai media report that the concert’s 10-minute countdown appeared on large screens at 10 pm, encored by a brief “believing” interlude by a nameless orator. Shortly after, Bieber, foregoing his ‘angel’ descent, walked down the stage stairs and launched into “All Around the World.”
Fans in the audience — if not their parents — reportedly screamed up a storm, the late start all but forgotten despite the Canadian’s non-apology for the delay.
Instead, the singer asked: “Dubai are you ready to have some fun tonight?”
Bizarrely, the teen exited the stage straight after the opening number. In the break, three non-Bieber tracks were spun by DJ Tay James.
An in-depth review by The National, reports the show picked up pace when he returned for kinetic interpretations of “Take You,” “One Time,” “Eenie Meenie” and “Somebody To love.”
A humorous spot in the concert reportedly came when the singer asked fans to stop throwing purple hats at the stage, telling them: “I’ve got a thousand purple hats.”
The National had some misgivings about the proportion of miming, backstory video montages and glossy production in the show, but did write:
“He rarely slowed the pace down, however, the real Bieber eventually showed up with the pristine voice that originally rocked YouTube.”
“Sitting beside his guitarist, both rolled into a rendition of [“Be Alright”] as sweet as a campfire singalong. It was a much needed reminder of a raw talent that has become somewhat muzzled by an army of expert producers and media handlers.”
The official Twitter account of the Believe Tour @BelieveTourUpdates stated that at one point in the concert, the 19-year-old looked out into the crowd for a few minutes and started crying before holding up his signature heart hand-shape.
The moment highlights questions by some Dubai media after the show, asking if the frenetic pace of the tour is taking its toll on the teen. Last night was number 90 on the tour schedule, tonight’s concert will be 91.
Bieber’s odyssey ends August 10 at Atlanta’s Philips Arena.
According to The National, “not even the whizz bang video montages and cracking backup dancers disguised the singer’s fatigue.”
The outlet added:
“However with the set closer, Believe, which is meant to be a heroic testament to Bieber’s achievements, one looks at the exhausted performer and wonders at what price?
“With the media circus around him in no fear of ending and the Believe tour extending to 30 more dates, one hopes Bieber emerges in one piece and takes a long well-earned break.”
Thomas Ovesen, a spokesman for Done Events, told Gulf News that they hoped Sunday’s show will start at 8pm, adding:
“Recent shows on this tour have started late and so the artist was also later than scheduled in taking to the stage last night. We really empathize with the fans and their parents who were affected by the delay and to whom this might have caused some inconvenience.”
“All that said the fans who saw Justin in action loved the incredible show he put on and they left screaming with delight as chants for the superstar echoed around the stadium. With the final night of his tour here in Dubai happening tonight, we are still very much expecting the artist to start the show at 8pm as scheduled but urge fans again to come well prepared if the show time again is moved a little.”
Reportedly, parents and music critics in Dubai are now hoping the superstar’s second and final show tonight will deliver the unequivocal wow expected from his much hyped visit.