Let’s be honest: The music was the least important thing about Justin Bieber’s
concert at Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park on Thursday.
It was all about: “OMIGOD,
IT’S JUSTIN BIEBER IN THE FLESH!” After enduring traffic jams that put half of
Tel Aviv in gridlock, thousands of teenage (and younger) girls gathered to
scream at the top of their lungs, wave signs and beg their moms for a poster or
a T-shirt featuring the object of their affection.
Bieber tweets his frustration at paparazzi
Bieber loyalists keep vigil outside the pop star’s TA hotel
And the moms? They
seemed all too happy to oblige.
Adi, 10 and her sister Shira, eight, were
on their way to the “golden circle” – the section closest to the stage – and
could hardly contain their excitement as they ran towards the front.
favorite song is ‘Love Me,’ because it has the nicest words,” Shira said, but giggled when asked if she understood what
the English lyrics to the song, which samples The Cardigans’ 90s hit “Love
Her father treated the girls with the NIS 500 tickets – and
made sure to clarify that his daughters are “intelligent, not the kind that
scream,” despite the fact that they seemed to be pulling his arms out of their
sockets en route to the front.
The songs that could be heard over the
shrieking were fun, catchy pop confections.
Snobs love to roll their eyes
at the “Beliebers,” but they forget that The Beatles had hysterical female fans,
Lennon and McCartney also wrote lyrics rather like “baby, baby, baby
ohhhh” – from Bieber’s biggest hit – and there’s no denying that the 17-year-old
He plays guitar, piano and percussion – and has the perfect
voice for puppy-love songs, with the potential to follow in the footsteps of
pop’s reigning Justin (Timberlake, of course) and go from teen stardom to a
singing tour de force. That is, if he doesn’t crash and burn like many pop idols
Security at the concert was beefed up, presumably to keep the
masses from trampling each other in an attempt to get closer to the well-coiffed Canadian singer – and as Bieber flirted with the crowd, it seemed like there
would be a stampede of lovestruck teens.
Judging from Bieber’s Twitter
account, though, the security may have been meant mostly to keep the ravenous
press at bay.
Once the 17-year-old pop star arrived in the Holy Land on
Monday, the paparazzi were never far behind, leading Bieber to tweet to his
nearly nine million followers: “You would think people would have some respect
in holy places. All I wanted was to walk where Jesus did here in
On an excursion in Tel Aviv, he ran over a paparazzo’s toe with
a rented moped (the moment was documented by fans and can be viewed on YouTube,
of course) before heading to McDonald’s and taking pictures with
“Omigod, I want to beat them up,” said Alicia, 15, when she and her
friend Elena were asked about the paparazzi. “I really want to hear the song
‘Pray,’ but I heard he won’t sing it because he couldn’t pray where he wanted
Alicia heard wrong – Bieber ended the concert with “Pray,” a song
that he said takes on special meaning when he sings it in Israel.
also lamented via Twitter that he was being “pulled into politics,” after a
rumor was spread that he canceled a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu because children from towns near the Gaza border planned to
Press from around the world reported about a “Bieber-Bibi
Summit,” that according to official sources, was never on the
Despite facing teen stardom’s downside, Bieber showed no signs of
exasperation on stage in Tel Aviv.
Presumably after saying the Shema with
his Jewish manager Scooter Braun – like he does before every show – Bieber
walked on stage in his trademark white jeans, white jacket and purple hoodie to
When he asked the audience “What’s up Israel?” the shrieks
may have caused permanent damage to this reporter’s eardrums.
“I would do
anything to make you smile,” Bieber said, before performing “U Smile” – and
Noam, 12, burst into tears, yelling “Justiiiiiiin!” at the teen who was so far
away he could only be seen on a large screen above the stage.
“I love him
so much,” she responded when asked why she’s crying. Her mother, Cheli, shrugged
her shoulders and said “kids are crazy!” The fact that the boy with the
million-dollar hair brought a different girl on stage during “One Less Lonely
Girl” – and even gave her roses – did not bring the crestfallen Noam any
Nearby, two teenage boys with matching Bieber haircuts held
hands and kissed.
The pop idol also used his platform for a good cause,
showing a video to discourage texting while driving, even though most of his
fans are years away from getting a license.
During his encore, he brought
up his manager Scooter’s grandmother, saying she’s a Holocaust survivor who
lives in Israel, and serenaded her with “Baby.”
Altogether, Bieber gave a
good show, engaging the audience and showing an impressive amount of energy
throughout. He played a lengthy drum solo and strummed his guitar along a few of
his ballads. Of course, girls swooned after every note.
In the years
since his first single was released, his voice has changed – an occupational
hazard of being a teenage boy – but his vocal performance has gotten
Bieber’s major weak point is his dancing, which leaves much to be
desired. During a spot-on cover of “Wanna Be Starting Something” mashed with
“Walk This Way,” it was apparent that choreographers had attempted to teach him
to copy the dance moves of his hero, Michael Jackson – but the boy wonder’s
moonwalk came off as a bit wooden.
He also should probably avoid rapping,
despite the fact that he’s collaborated with hip-hop luminaries like Ludacris
and Kanye West. He comes off more like Vanilla Ice than Eminem.
good thing he can cover up his shortcomings with enough charm to drive 21,000
tweens to distraction.