Justin Bieber’s wild ride rolls through the MGM Grand

Justin Bieber performs at MGM Grand Grand Arena on Friday, March 25, 2016.
Photo: L.E. Baskow

Three stars

Justin Bieber March 25, MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Despite the frequent shocking behavior that has threatened to overshadow Justin Bieber’s music, Canada’s No. 1 rabble-rouser continues to persevere, and latest album Purpose is proof. Shrouded in poppy, tropical-house tones and electronics, the record not only repositioned the Biebs in the pop world, it provided context for his turbulent ride—one shrouded by flashbulbs and headlines since being discovered on YouTube when he was just 12.

Friday night’s concert at MGM Grand Garden Arena continued that reinvention. He owned the spotlight unapologetically and on his on terms—wearing a Marilyn Manson T-shirt for half the show and, at one point, playing a drum solo—although he could have stood in silence for an hour and still had the bleachers shaking with shrieking fans. Toward the end of the set, just before the aforementioned album’s title track, Bieber stopped to talk but was outmatched by the bellowing crowd. “You can chant my name, or you can listen to what I have to say,” Bieber said, sounding frustrated. “I’m trying to speak from the heart.” Considering he recently canceled meet-and-greets for the rest of his tour, the episode didn’t come as a surprise.

“Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing/When the pressure’s coming down like lightning/It’s like they want me to be perfect/But they don’t even know that I’m hurting,” he sang during “I’ll Show You,” while performing inside an illuminated cage—blatant symbolism as the packed arena stared on. But for the rest of the show, the 22-year-old brought swagger and charm to every number, especially R&B-soaked tracks like “No Sense,” as he popped and locked across the stage. His vocals were strong and powerful on “Love Yourself”—which featured only the singer, his acoustic guitar and a couch. And he performed a new, unreleased track, “Insecurities,” where he experimented with his bright falsetto.

From the intergalactic-themed backdrops and intricate stage design to the giant trampoline that hung from the ceiling—and the actual water that poured down during his “Sorry” encore—Bieber and his larger-than-life production took the arena for a ride almost as wild as his own career.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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