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2010 Top Concert Review: Justin Bieber thrills at sold-out Allentown Fair show

Teen sensation Justin Bieber wowed a sold-out Allentown Fair crowd made up almost entirely of girls ranging from roughly 3 to 16 years old.

The concert Saturday night delivered what the audience wanted. Wonderfully choreographed versions of his hit songs. Lights. Smoke. Adorable Bieber baby photos on the video screen.

He brought one teen girl on stage and handed her red roses while singing "One Less Lonely Girl." You should have seen her look of pure joy.

He showed off his skills by playing guitar and drums. He even tried, less successfully, a bit of break-dancing.

His vocals weren't always strong. But to be fair, he had to postpone a New York State Fair show earlier in the week, citing a sore throat.

The 15-song, 80-minute show was so slick that you sometimes felt like you were watching a music video. That's not a complaint. It was entertaining from beginning to end.

It was fitting that Bieber, 16, paid tribute to Michael Jackson by performing his "Wanna Be Startin' Something." His concert, which relies heavily on choreography, owes a lot to the influence of Jackson and R&B singer Usher.

Bieber has surrounded himself with talented entertainers. His four male dancers were amazing. His band rocks. Young rapper Diggy Simmons (from MTV's "Run's House") did a great job singing the Ludacris part of the final song of the night, "Baby."

The Canadian teen generously shared the limelight, having his dancers give solo demonstrations of their break-dancing skills. He introduced his four backup singers in a video clip that notes that, like him, they were discovered from YouTube clips. Then he brought them out to sing a few songs on their own.

I was disappointed that Bieber didn't bring Sean Kingston on stage with him to sing their hit "Eenie Meenie." Bieber is at his best when he's performing with strong solo artists like Kingston, the reggae hip-hopper who was one of the opening acts.

It was fascinating analyzing the crowd. My 12-year-old daughter, Katie, and I spent a lot of time scanning the audience to try to spot boys. We found nine. We saw more dads, and a few had the expression that men wear when they're waiting for their wives or daughters to finish shopping for clothes.

I got a sense of what it must have been like to have seen the Beatles play in the mid-'60s. The shrieks sometimes hurt your ears.

Teachers will have to understand if girls are still hoarse on Tuesday. They'll still be recuperating from Bieber Fever.

My daughter, who's a big fan of the rock band Paramore, enjoyed the show, much more than she thought she would.

Her favorite Bieber songs Saturday were "Baby," "Somebody to Love" and "One Less Lonely Girl." (She liked that he sang the latter song to the girl onstage.)

She liked opening act Vita Chambers a lot. Chambers sang only four songs in her 15 minutes onstage but she impressed my daughter with her "Like Boom" and "Young Money," so much so that Katie wants to buy the songs for her iPod. Another opener, Jessica Jarrell, did a fine job with her four songs and 15 minutes.

I thoroughly enjoyed Sean Kingston's energetic 45-minute set. Like for Bieber, the crowd stood, danced and jumped during all his songs, including "Replay" and "Beautiful Girls" It was a nice surprise when he brought out rapper Iyaz, who Kingston has signed to his label. He was great on "Solo."

I liked the way Kingston and Iyaz pronounced Allentown, making it sound cool by emphasizing a different syllable. They called it Al-LEN-town.

mike.hirsch@mcall.com

610-820-6562

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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