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Justin Bieber

ANZ Stadium, March 15

He arrives as the boy in a box, scrawling some (Mark My) Words on a Perspex wall - no comments about his Gold Coast graffiti exploits a few years back, please.

He leaves as the man-boy saying Sorry - well kinda sorta sorry - for sins past and sins to come. That's growth isn't it? He isn't a complete prat, so that's something, right?

Frankly, redemption is over-rated. As is regret. Justin Bieber isn't here to set things right. Who cares about that?

On a big pop stage with raised stage floors and expectations, illuminated cages and a kick-arse sound system where synthesised drums sound like bone snapping, you better bring show and you better make show.

That's the only thing that matters.

On the first count the platinum blonde scores. Production is flashy with lasers and high end graphics, video components that look lush and a posse of dancers who can glitter as well as they move.

Sound-wise it is big and beefy and about as subtle as a knee to the cods, especially during the teeth-grating Where Are U Now?

Restraint is shown only when he sits down on a red lounge and sings a solo acoustic guitar version of his hit with Major Lazer, Cold Water, and his own Love Yourself (I know what you're thinking but don't say it, there are children present).

So he certainly brings show.

If only he made show. Calling this diffidence would be being very polite.

Oh sure, Bieber moves and he sings, though not always presented with clarity in the mix, and in What Do You Mean, pretence over, essentially only on tape.

And he plays a drum solo, though the less said about that the better.

But his movements, his delivery and, most tellingly, his eyes, have the haunted feel of someone who has been here so often that he is seeing this show replayed in his nightmares now.

You can almost see the brain ticking over saying two songs down, 19 to go; move left leg and did I leave my phone in my room or the car?; grab crotch and, um, oh that's right, raise microphone in the air and ask them to join in.

It's not killing the fever in the crowd - there is enough base load energy in the stadium to power South Australia - but it is not raising it.

They're getting the songs they want, they're getting him Right Here! separated by a mere 80,000 others, and that's worth screaming about. And they do.

(While we're among friends, can we just raise this point? Middle aged adults - ok, let's be straight, middle aged women - at Bieber with their children? Fair enough: a shared pleasure at home maybe; a bloody good indulgent parent at the very least. Middle aged women here in packs, sans children-as-excuse, and screaming? Eeuw.)

But as for taking them higher still, whipping up that energy to maybe power surge and blow a few fuses, letting them feel like they've had THE experience of the best pop shows? Nup. It doesn't happen.

But then you can't recharge anyone's battery if you aren't charged yourself.

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