The 21-year-old had a circuitous promo schedule the past three days -- Tokyo on Friday and London on Sunday -- but he didn’t seem jet-lagged at all. In fact, his voice was impressive: with just acoustic guitar or piano to back him, that much is certain. He can sing alright, and he’s much more R&B in an acoustic setting.
The show, which lasted 85 minutes, benefited Stratford House of Blessing, a non-profit his mother once used in their hometown which offers food, clothing and other resources to low income families and individuals. The singer did an acoustic concert for the same charity at Toronto’s Massey Hall at Christmastime 2011.
Bieber didn’t mention House of Blessing on stage. After all, there was no more fundraising to be done for the event. The money was raised from the sale of half the concert tickets at C$100 ($74) apiece (the remaining tickets were distributed to radio and TV for contest giveaways and promos).
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The concert, billed as An Evening with Justin Bieber, sold out in two minutes after he tweeted about it last Tuesday.
Fans still lined up Sunday in the chilly winter air just to get a prime spot in the general admission main floor. The two-level theater has assigned seats on the balcony. For those at home, the concert was streamed live on Bieber’s Website.
“It’s really good to be home, first of all,” said Bieber as he took the stage with his guitarist/pianist and musical director, Dan Kanter, who is also from Toronto. “We’re just going to make this loose tonight. I’m not really sure what I’m going to do. I’m just going to play a bunch of my new songs…”
Screams from fans drowned out the rest of his words for people not near the front but it wasn’t constant shrieking, thank goodness. The crowd appeared older and more respectful than past Bieber shows. Even some Toronto Maple Leafs showed up.
He started the night singing Purpose hit “What Do You Mean?” and plowed into 24 songs in total, including “Baby,” “One Less Lonely Girl,” “Boyfriend,” “Be Alright” and more Purpose tracks, “Sorry” and “Love Yourself.” He sang “Christmas Eve,” teasing his good friend, Kanter, who celebrates Hanukkah. ”Are you allowed to do Christmas music right now? You’re Jewish,” he said, before adding “Christmas Love” and “Under the Mistletoe.”
Bieber also did some fun and varied covers, Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” Chapman’s “Fast Car,” Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” and hopping on the red grand piano by himself to sing The Beatles “Let It Be” and a smidgen of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” He ended the night with “As Long As You Love Me” -- and clearly people still do.
Fans will be able to purchase a piece of the show, literally, when the black and white patterned backdrop by Toronto artist Jimmy Chiale is chopped up into sections and sold as part of a bundle on justinbiebermusic.com.