JB’s maiden performance in India was a controversial one.

The most awaited event of the first half of the year finally unravelled on 10th May, 2017.  The India leg of the Justin Bieber Purpose World Tour, organised by White Fox, has been making news for months now. There were speculations as to who would open for him during the show. There were comparisons being made with last year’s Global Citizen Festival. Bieber’s name cropped up in the media, time and time again. As the days approached, details of his stay and his high expectations (choppers, Jacuzzis’ and all that jazz) were leaked. Even those who wanted to stay clear of Bieber found themselves being updated minute by minute. There was no escaping him; that was the magnitude of the Justin Bieber Purpose World Tour. Since everybody (whether they liked it or not) has been perfectly acquainted with the details following up to the event, we’d like to take you through D-day.

Going The Distance

As there were a lot of comparisons made with Global Citizen Festival India, one point that went in Bieber’s favour was the venue – D.Y. Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai. The reason being that the venue was a stadium with elevated seats that assured a good view of the performing artists. At the Global Citizen Festival, most people in the zones away from the stage could not get a glimpse of the artists and ended up watching them on the big screens. Also, the areas in D.Y. Patil were well demarcated, making sure everybody got a good view of the stage. Although significantly far from Mumbai city, the stadium is easily navigable. Apart from the expected chaos outside any venue for parking, it wasn’t much of a hassle. The smart ones who came in earlier found parking spots close by. The journey to the box office area was a trek for many. After waiting in line outside for what seemed like forever, fans had to work extra hard to get their tickets. It didn’t help that the weather was being it’s usual ‘May’ self. But once inside, the battle was won.

The Inside Story

With 10 gates distributed along the circumference of the stadium, it was absolutely important for you to know your gate; otherwise the walk to the other gates was a long one. Once inside, you could get a clear view of what was in store. The stage was ginormous; with ramps that were placed in a way that Justin could have maximum interaction with his fans all around. There were problems with the zones though. People who paid an exorbitant fee to watch the show, found themselves in the Platinum zone with those who paid much lesser. The Gold zone was built on an elevated platform, but soon began to show signs of giving way because of the crowd pressure. Many were asked to leave the zone and were upgraded to the Platinum zone. With the crowd mixing up in the middle of Alan Walker’s set, it was a major distraction for everybody. Once the sun had set, there was cool breeze blowing into the stadium; a welcoming change from the scorching heat. Once Bieber took the stage, everybody let their tempers cool down and concentrated on enjoying the show to its fullest.

When Hunger Calls

Food counters, catered by The Grub Fest, had an interesting mix of cuisines and were stationed right outside the entry gates, on the lawns and at specific points. They had enough shade around them to offer respite from the harsh sun. VIP Skybags had also organized a bull ride for people to test their endurance. However, people had no option but to buy coupons of INR 500 with no denominations in between. Food and beverages were priced not below INR 150, so a lot of people found themselves carrying spare coupons back home. Another common observation was the lack of dustbins in the vicinity. There was garbage strewn all over the lawns with nobody assigned to clear it up. Another drawback was the liquor availability. Although there were assigned counters ready to serve liquor, the booze didn’t flow, AT ALL. There were counters present for those over 18 to collect bands that would permit them to drink, but that counter soon turned into another spot for shade-seeking patrons. But one place where the organizers definitely deserve credit was for providing free drinking water. Though the water wasn’t chilled, it kept people hydrated.

Please Welcome On Stage…

There were four performers slated to take the stage; home grown heroes Sartek and Zaeden, Norwegian superstar Alan Walker and of course, the Biebs himself. Sartek was the first to come on stage and he did a great job at keeping people on their feet in the killer heat.

Zaeden followed and did an equally great job with the crowd. Both boys have an immense fan following in India and they are known to never disappoint their fans.

Alan Walker, the man behind the massive hit ‘Faded’ came down for his second visit to the country. He made his India debut in December 2016. He was, without a doubt, one of the highlights of the entire event. His music was fresh and his tracks had people singing to them. Like Bieber, he too had 2 whole hours to perform for the crowd and he served them with only the best. Of course, he concluded his performance with Faded (it couldn’t have happened any other way).

The Bieber Moment

And then came the much-awaited moment. We had partially gone deaf with all the tweens and teens releasing their pent up screaming energy at one go. A short video of Bieber, that looked right out of a Calvin Klein commercial, preceded his entry and added to the build-up. His backup dancers got on stage and, trust me guys, they were an absolute delight throughout the night. At around 8.15, Bieber finally took the stage and that was the beginning of the next 90 minutes of the night.

His first track was ‘Mark My Words’ from his Purpose album. But just a couple of seconds into the song, people began to find something amiss. He was lip-syncing, and quite obviously. Of course his die-hard fans chose to overlook this little (or was it?) detail, but it began to look more and more obvious when he would take sips of water while his voice could be heard singing the track. Yes, it is understandable that the night would be high on the performance factor with Bieber having to run around a lot and join his backup dancers on a few steps, but is lip-syncing any way of paying respect to your fans?

The only part where he genuinely poured his soul out to the audience was his acoustic performance of his hits ‘Cold Water’ and ‘Love Yourself’. In between, he had to stop playing to tune his guitar strings, owing to the humidity.

But, everything being said (no he wasn’t the liveliest of performers), Bieber was good to his fans. He showered them with love, time and time again. He covered the stage well and made sure he could interact with fans in all corners. He said all the right things to them, even promising to be back in the country. But, the best moment of his performance was when four Indian kids danced along with his crew. He introduced them to the crowd, later gave them a tight hug and a hi-five each.

Non-Beliebers might have been miffed by all the lip-syncing, but his tween fans got just what they asked for. He concluded the night with his latest raging track ‘Sorry’.  A fitting end to what was termed as the most awaited night of the year.

All In All

We spoke to a couple of people to gauge their reaction on the event and we got a mix of positive and negative stories. A mother, who had accompanied her 13-year-old son and nieces, did not have anything to complain about and was happy that there was a lot of space for parents to sit back and enjoy while the kids crowded up in front. A hard core Belieber termed the day as the ‘best of her life’, saying that she got everything she asked for and expected from him. Another group of friends expressed the difficulty they faced outside the venue, stating that the box office was miles away from the gates and people had to walk along the overcrowded service road to reach their gate. There were a host of people who felt cheated because they paid a lot of money for their tickets but were forced to stand in the Platinum area. Another fan complained that the merchandise store wasn’t open when they entered and it had already closed when they exited.

But, say what you want, Justin Bieber got the whole country talking about him and that is headlining story right there. We hope his next visit has him giving a more genuine performance. Until then, we’ll continue to play ‘Sorry’ on loop in our heads.

Image Credits: Festival Sherpa, jbcrewdotcom, delicias_do_justin2, hindustan times