Bieber brings set full of ‘Purpose’ to crowd of 14,000
More than 14,000 fans – most wielding ear-piercing screams – descended upon Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines to catch a one-night appearance of Canadian pop star Justin Bieber.
Bieber, who took to the downtown arena stage for the third time in six years, performed track after track for the anxious, energetic and sometimes frantic audience members. New tracks (off Bieber’s 2015 LP “Purpose”) such as “I’ll Show You,” “Company” and “Children” made the setlist, as did old favorites the likes of “Boyfriend” and the infamous number “Baby.”
The show, which started promptly with two opening acts at 7:30 and Bieber taking the stage at 8:45, came loaded with what’s to expect from a full-fledged pop performance: pyrotechnics, multiple trap doors, a stage full of backup dancers and multiple, revolving pieces to the stage.
Was Bieber’s Des Moines stop on the “Purpose” world tour a life-changing performance set to go down in the history books among arena-sized greats? No. It doesn't come close. Was it a lackadaisical show void of energy and entertainment? No ... not at all.
Bieber's Des Moines show lands heavily in the middle of the two extremes. Entertaining, yet not jaw-dropping. Fun, but not fantastic. Eyebrow-raising, yet not overtly eye-opening.
Where the show, which is scheduled to continue across the globe throughout 2016, succeeds is in the sheer magnitude of the performance. Bieber glided through the stage’s trap doors and embraced the ever-changing nature of the set-up (which included a trampoline hanging above the crowd at one point over an hour into the show, during the track “Company”). He entered the show in a glass box that rose from under the stage and proceeded to float above the on-lookers.
The 22-year-old pop star donned multiple instruments during the set (including a drum solo atop a high riser about an hour into the performance). At one point, a velvet couch and acoustic guitar rose from the depths of the stage as Bieber sat and delivered stripped down renditions of “Love Yourself” and “Insecurities.”
“We’re gonna slow it down a bit,” Bieber told the capacity crowd before taking to the couch. “We’re gonna vibe a little bit.”
And, while Bieber sat in the middle of the room on a couch probably older than him, the crowd did as he said and vibed with him. “Love Yourself” proved to be arguably the biggest sing-along from the evening’s shrieking audience.
While the entire spectacle of the tour proved to be worth the cost of admission, it was toward the back end of the set — when most of the stage tricks have been shown — that songs began to feel repetitive and the set ran a bit dry. A track like “Down To Earth” at the beginning of the set came off as entrancing … while, at the end of the set, a track like “As Long As You Love Me” felt drawn-out.
The show, which lasted about two hours, reached its technical pinnacle during the one-song encore, “Sorry.” Proving mother nature wrong, Bieber made it rain inside. He stood in the middle of a rain-soaked stage, alongside his backup dancers with water pouring down his face and delivered the smash hit to close the evening.
“Thank you so much everybody,” he said to the crowd, closing the set. “I believe in you.”
Justin Bieber returns to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Wednesday. Learn five random facts about the pop star before his scheduled Iowa appearance.