Grammy Nominations 2017
Justin Bieber Is Back, Tells Screaming Fans 'I've Missed You So Much' at Hot 100 Fest
"It's been a while since I've done any shows or anything," Justin Bieber told his excitable fans early into his performance at the inaugural Billboard Hot 100 Festival on Sunday night. "You guys miss me?"
The response from the audience was deafening. So were the "JUS-TIN! JUS-TIN!" chants that echoed inside the Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre minutes before the 21-year-old took the stage, and, of course, the shrieks emitted when he arrived onstage to the opening whooshes of "Boyfriend." Nearly two years have passed since Bieber's last world tour came to an end, and during a seven-song set at Hot 100 Fest, Bieber audibly panted into his microphone, the taxing choreography and vocal gymnastics taking a toll on the pop superstar.
Still, Bieber moved and sounded on point in his comeback set, which will serve as part of the lead-up to his next album; meanwhile, the loving crowd demonstrated that his artistry was indeed missed by many.
"Man, I've missed you so much," Bieber finished his thought. "It's so good to be back on this stage."
Bieber's headlining set was billed as a "special performance," and his show was divided into three segments. None of them included the debut of new single "What Do You Mean," to be released on Friday (Aug. 28). At one point, Bieber teased the crowd with, "You guys wanna hear some new music? Well too bad, because I'm playing an old song."
Instead, Bieber started with a trio of singles from his last album, 2012's Believe. He sported a gray hoodie and his slickest dance moves on "Boyfriend," momentarily grinded with a backup dancer during "Beauty and a Beat" and sang an a cappella outro of "As Long As You Love Me" that made Bieber double over while crooning. The start to Bieber's performance was reminiscent of his high-production arena showcases, with backup dancers populating the stage and amplifier graphics bursting onscreen behind him.
Then, Bieber unexpectedly delved into Journals, the introspective R&B project he released online in 2013. Sitting down on a stool next to an accompanying guitarist, Bieber asked for the lights to be dimmed and flaunted his voice over a few acoustic licks. Bieber played "Hold Tight" and "All That Matters" while clenching a white towel and mopping the stage with his battered soul; he tossed in a stripped-down take on "Be Alright" for good measure.
And then it was time to party. "I might need some help," Bieber said, looking skyward. "Skrillex, where you at?" The EDM superstar dutifully returned, dropped DJ Khaled's "All I Do Is Win," and after Bieber was done bouncing around, the warped vocal pleas of "Where Are U Now" kicked in. Bieber removed his shirt during the second half of the surprise top 10 hit, then joined Skrillex on the producer's massive DJ deck.
The performance ended with Bieber and Skrillex, standing side by side, performing the whip/nae-nae dance to the final chorus of "Where Are U Now." Bieber's giddiness was apparent, and the festival pals (the Biebs previously joined Skrillex at HARD and Ultra) made their thousands of onlookers feel included in their collaboration.
Bieber did not play any new music during the Hot 100 Fest performance, but the showcase of his past and present hinted at the future he is clearly anxious to inhabit. Five days before his next single is released, Bieber made his past ones count on Sunday night.