By the time the gates to DY Patil Stadium were opened at 3.30pm on Wednesday, scores of Justin Bieber fans – and a somewhat less enthusiastic assortment of parents, uncles and aunties – had already been queueing up for two hours. It took another half an hour for the queues to actually start moving.
Security was tight but not over the top, and many people managed to enter with cigarettes. Food stalls inside the stadium sold the usual concert fare – wraps and rolls, shawarmas, pizzas, burgers and sandwiches. There were also ice-cream sellers – a blessing for parents of some of the younger Beliebers.
There were from fans from all over the country – though most were from cities such as Bangalore and Delhi – and, indeed, from all over the world. The euphoria was palpable even before the show, as fans sang their favourite Bieber songs, including ‘Baby’ and ‘Mistletoe’ while waiting to enter the stadium. However, unlike the Coldplay concert last November, this wasn’t a sold-out event.
Among the celebrities in attendance were Anu Malik, with daughters Ada and Anmol, Arman Malik, Rohit Roy, Malaika Arora Khan and Sridevi.
The show began on schedule as Justin opened with ‘Mark my words’, one of his less popular songs, at 8.12pm. Next came ‘Where are you now’, which was the real kick-starter. He followed these with a mix of chart toppers like ‘Boyfriend’ and less well-known songs. “We are only getting started!” he shouted.
Seeing a sea of Justin Bieber t-shirts in the crowd, the singer pointed to one fan and said, “I like your purpose tour merch (merchandise).”
Next, he performed an acoustic set with songs such as ‘Cold Water’ and ‘Love Yourself’, but not before taking a break to deal with the sweltering heat and humidity. “It’s really humid in here so my guitar is out of tune… just give me two seconds,” Bieber said.
After the acoustic mini-gig, he went back to playing with his band, belting out hits such as ‘Company’ and ‘Let Me Love You’.
For one of the songs, underprivileged kids danced in place of Bieber’s usual background dancers. He asked the children their names and had the crowd applaud for each one.
About an hour and a half into the concert, Bieber switched his white t-shirt for a red one. The lasers began to kick in as he sang hits such as ‘What Do You Mean?’ and ‘Baby’.
Bieber then slowed the pace, interacting with fans and saying, “Look how beautiful the moon is tonight.” He also mouthed “I love you” to fans closest to the ramp.
Speaking about the title of his latest album, Purpose, he said, “No matter how old you are you have a purpose on this earth.”
He then left the stage with a namaste, but the fans knew it wasn’t over.
Bieber returned for an encore, singing his smash hit ‘Sorry’ before concluding the show with what has seemingly become mandatory for every international act these days – waving the Indian flag.
Soon enough, security guard began to usher out systematically but politely. Refreshingly, there weren’t the usual drunken crowds at the end.