Judging by the spine-tingling screams, Justin Bieber's show Sunday night at the Maryland State Fairgrounds was a hit.
Never mind that the 16-year-old pop whiz kid lip-synched some of his songs, or dashed off stage after nearly every song. He was there, and that was all that mattered for his legion of teenage fans.
The Canadian singer, whose high-pitched voice and accessible mix of slick R&B and pop earned him millions of fans overnight, put on a roughly 90-minute show, drawing from both his albums. At times, the screams from the crowd overpowered Bieber and his live band.
After a 15-minute countdown displayed on a video screen, Bieber emerged, sporting an all-white getup and shades, and launched into "Love Me." A few minutes later, he picked up an out-of-tune acoustic guitar and strummed out a stripped-down version of "Favorite Girl."
It took Bieber a few songs to warm up; problems with pitch marred the melody to "Never Let You Go," and he wobbled around notes on a couple other tunes.
Bieber kept commenting on all the "beautiful girls" in the audience, and even went on a fake search for the girl of his dreams.
"I think I found my one special girl, somewhere in the audience," he said. True or not, the tweens ate it up.
Singer Jessica Jarrell joined Bieber for an up-close and personal duet on "Overboard," after which Bieber ran offstage and came back dressed in black for "Never Say Never." Then Bieber disappeared again for a few minutes while an a capella group sang a medley of pop favorites such as Usher's "OMG."
During another brief break, the video screens played a poignant series of home videos of Bieber (seeing him singing the "Alphabet Song" as a toddler was priceless). What was Bieber doing backstage? One can only guess. But all his disappearances and reappearances made the night feel more like a series of vignettes than a fluid concert.
Still, the crowd lapped up every minute with Bieber. If anything, the audience was overzealous. Bieber stopped the song "That Should be Me" midway after fans hurled unidentified objects and pressed close to the stage.
"Everybody needs to stop throwing stuff and take one step back," he said.
Singer Sean Kingston joined Bieber for the playful hit "Eenie Meenie," and "One Time" — Bieber's first hit — was a mid-set highlight. Bieber didn't even officially end the set; he left that to the video screen, which read "Thank you and good night." Soon after, he was back for an encore of "Baby" which got all the teens jumping.
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