Review: Lazy Justin Bieber puts on sorry Palace concert

Adam Graham
The Detroit News
Justin Bieber's Purpose Tour makes a stop at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan on April 25, 2016.

It’s too late to say sorry now.

Justin Bieber, who struck No. 1 with his hit single “Sorry,” may want to issue a fresh apology to fans after turning in an appallingly lazy concert at the Palace of Auburn Hills Monday night.

The 22-year-old Canadian pop megastar sleep-walked through his choreography, made no attempts to mask his pre-recorded vocals and performed with the enthusiasm of a teenager being forced to clean his room. He seemed to be treating the performance like a dress rehearsal, and judging by the dazed look on his face through the majority of the show, maybe that’s what he thought it was.

“Does anybody in here ever feel like sleeping all day?” he asked the crowd two-thirds of the way through the 19-song, 100-minute show. “I think that’s me every day… I hit the snooze button like 15 times this morning.”

Yeah dude, and you performed like you were still mid-slumber.

At one point in the show Bieber paused on stage, set his microphone down in front of him and adjusted the drawstring on his pants for about 20 seconds. Later he had several instances where he fiddled with his in-ear monitors like they were foreign objects. Bieber must feel totally at home on stage, because he treated the show like a Sunday afternoon in his living room. When he laid down on stage near the end of the show, during “Purpose,” he looked like he might take a nap.

Not that the fans, a sold-out crowd of mostly teenage girls – the 16- and 17-year-olds were loudest when El Bieber polled for ages – seemed to mind. Bieber was physically there, which was enough to warrant screams all night, which must have sounded great on Snapchat. (Fans reacted positively throughout the show, which pulled mainly from Bieber’s latest album, “Purpose,” but the building was never louder than when Biebs performed his first hit, 2010’s “Baby,” late in the show.)

For Bieber, Monday’s concert came seven weeks into a four-month trek that stretches until mid-July in North America. Maybe he was conserving his energy, and he was certainly guzzling water like he was storing some for a rainy day. But the performance was not up to snuff, not for an entertainer at his level. Neither his engagement nor his effort level received passing marks.

There was enough going on around him, however, to almost make up for it. Bieber was buffered by a large scale production with fancy lasers, lights and a massive video wall, as well as a team of a dozen dancers and a five-piece band.

Justin Bieber's Purpose Tour makes a stop at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan on April 25, 2016.

People and props were always rising from trap doors in the stage – Bieber, to his credit, showed true wherewithal of the stage by not falling in one of them – and the stage production included an LED video cage, a clear box that he performed opener “Mark My Words” inside while scrawling words like “love” on the walls and a large trampoline that lowered from the ceiling where Bieber and his dancers did flips 10 feet above the heads of the fans on the main floor. Closer “Sorry,” meanwhile, unfolded with Bieber and his dancers performing underneath an indoor waterfall. It was a busy, impressive production – but then it had to be, to make up for the lifelessness of the show’s star, who looked like he’d rather be on his tour bus watching Netflix.

Early on, Bieber made an effort to keep up like he was lip-syncing, but by the third song, “Get Used to It,” he stopped mouthing words. Later he was missing entire verses and choruses, yet his vocals continued unabated. His indifference toward the entire charade bordered on apathy.

There was a moment, during “Children,” when four kids from the audience where brought up on stage and Bieber showed a glimmer of excitement while interacting with them. But otherwise the performance came off as a chore and Bieber himself seemed exhausted.

Get some rest, kid, because performances like Monday’s require more than a simple “Sorry.” The next step is offering refunds.

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