Tuesday, 14 May 2013

I'm a Belieber - sad but sort of true

I'm a Belieber - sad but sort of true
13 May 2013

I've plummeted to a new depth.  I've become a bit of a Bieber convert.

No, don't judge me too harshly.  Listen first.

I still don't like his music.  I'm still not the biggest fan.  I still don't follow him on Twitter or Facebook.  I still don't think he's "hot".  I still don't have his pictures all over my phone.  Or on my bedroom wall either.

But this I do "Believe" - he's simply huge.  And his influence is even bigger than his persona.  He's clearly an astute businessman or alternatively, he's surrounded himself by astute business advisers.  He's become a huge money-making machine.  A recognisable brand – right up there with the likes of Coca Cola.  He is a commodity with a huge financial value.  He is responsible for many, many people.  People who gain their livelihood and feed their families, thanks to being a part of the machine.  The cogs in the wheel that keep the machine moving ever forward.  He's invested a lot into marketing and merchandising.  His face splashed across t-shirts, caps, books, CD’s, posters, etc.  In fact you name it.

He's got an image which has been cleverly cultivated.  An image that he's had to force the boundaries of as he has aged and matured a bit in his tastes.  But then again, his fans have grown alongside him.  Though to be truthful, he has fans of all ages.  My six year old little niece is a huge “Bieper” fan, as she calls him.  She knows the words to his every song.  And quite simply adores him.  And on the night of the concert, I personally saw that he was not just adored by little girls, tweens and teens.  There were ladies of all ages going wild.  Apparently I was one of them.  Much to my surprise.  My enthusiasm was much unanticipated – mostly by me.

For my Berry’s birthday last year, we bought her tickets for the show.  And given her tender age of eleven, what could I do?  I had to buy a ticket for myself too, so that I could accompany her.  And as the 8th of May crept ever closer, so did Amber’s anticipation and excitement levels.  And in order to give the full experience, we went the whole hog.  A bunch of my Twisted Sista’s and I, pooled money together and hired a little mini-bus including a driver to take us to the show and to fetch us again.  This was a marvellous and indeed inspired idea, as it left us free to just soak up the day with no stresses and strains involved.  No traversing traffic or searching for parking.  We simply sat back, proceeded to empty our cooler box filled to the brim with chocolates, cool drinks, chips and sweets and chatted non-stop.  Relaxing indeed.

The kids in the bus were literally buzzing with excitement.  And the second we stepped off the bus and started the long fan walk (my friend Gail says, it’s just a walk, there’s nothing “fan” about it – and she doesn’t like walking), we found ourselves swept up too.  Any time we crossed paths with fellow fans, our passle of girls squealed, “Beliebers!!!” and the other passle of fans would squeal, “Beliebers!!!” right back.  Every single kid I saw had some or other item of clothing on, with Justin Bieber’s face emblazoned on it.  They did face painting, bangles and bracelets, banners and chanting of songs.  Lots and lots of chanting.  And the hot words on every single fan’s lips, were that they wished they were going to be chosen to be Justin’s “One less lonely girl”.  At first I had no idea what this meant, until one of the girls painstakingly explained it to me.  At every show he does, he has spotters, who upon a signal from him, select one girl from the audience.  A girl who is then invited onto the stage, so that he can croon a love song to her.  This is the end prize for any fan.  Something great to aspire to.  A wish come true.

I have never seen so many assembled teens and tweens in one place all together.  Firstly, big up to Big Concerts.  From all accounts things ran pretty smoothly.  They appeared to have ample security and personnel herding fans along, answering questions, and guiding people on their way.  We never endured long queues and felt safe the entire time.  There weren’t even particularly long queues to get refreshments or at the bathrooms either.  And on occasion, this can be a huge problem at concerts.

We had the cheap seats.  Around the edge of the stadium.  And this was truly marvellous.  For one, we faced the stage, right bang on.  Secondly, we never braved the fluctuating, never-still wave of movement in the Golden Circle, particularly as the swell of fans, kept moving ever forward.  Grant’s niece has a friend, who had queued for hours to get a good spot in the precious Golden Circle.  The problem being that as the crowd surged all the time, she got pushed from the back, which in turn forced her to bump into the person in front of her.  This girl, swung around, grabbed her by the hair, pulled her face down and brought her knee up to her face, punched her, dragged her down to the ground and then proceeded to kick her.  This poor fifteen year old girl sustained a concussion as well as a broken nose and cheek bone in the process.  Too dreadful.  In fact, it took three people to pull the punching girl away from her.  Never too be found again of course, thereby not being brought to justice.  And so?  In return this poor girl, ended up missing the concert as she was in absolute agony, and she apparently sobbed the whole night away.  Horrid!  Even now, days later, her face is still swollen and blue.

But, luckily for us, our experience was indeed golden.  I have experienced many, many concerts.  And have seen some greats.  U2, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sting, INXS, Crowded House, etc.  And never, ever, ever have I ever witnessed hysteria and incredible spirit like that at the Bieber’s concert.  I ascribe it to the general age of the people at the concert.  Young kids, tweens and teens.  Absolutely hysterically enthusiastic, excited, swept-up-with-emotion, built to a fever-pitch after weeks and weeks of anticipation and carefully planned media campaigns to ensure maximum exposure.  Apparently at Cape Town stadium alone, they had over fifty kids fainting.

The supporting acts were marvellous too.  Highly entertaining.  And all I can say is that those Locnville boys have filled out rather nicely.  Enough said.  They worked the crowd and prepped them so nicely for Justin.

It felt like the last hour or so, before Justin appeared, every single fan, just continually screamed at the top of their lungs.  Gratuitously.  Without stopping.  Not even for a moment.  Fans were chanting “Justin!  Justin!  Justin!” over and over again.  Followed by “We want Justin!” and “Justin Bieber!”.  And then there was the clapping and the numerous Mexican Waves.  I have never witnessed anything like it ever before and I am so grateful that I have.  Every single person in that stadium screamed, shouted, clapped and did the Mexican Wave.  Everyone got swept up in the vibe.  It would have been hard to resist.

And then ten minutes before his appearance on stage, a countdown clock appeared on the giant big screen.  And if I thought that the crowd had been enthusiastic and excited before then, it was nothing as compared to their reaction to that countdown clock.  Every single time, it hit a round number, for example nine minutes remaining, eight minutes remaining, etc. the screaming reached an ear deafening level.

And somehow or other, once the clock got to zero, the lights went off and “The Bieber” came on stage, I found myself screaming like a banshee too.  How was this possible?  I’m not even a fan!

The shows I have seen in the past, have all focused on the music.  As played by real musicians.  But this, was somehow different.  There were still musicians, but the show was more an extravaganza spectacular sensation than a music concert.  It incorporated lights, pyrotechnics, smoke, lasers, video clips and dancers.  Lots and lots of dancers doing wearing awesome costumes.  Doing awesome moves.  And at the helm of it all?  The golden boy himself.  Singing, dancing, strutting, flirting with the audience, playing the drums (he’s actually a surprisingly good drummer), playing the piano (not too shabby either – he’s clearly a musically talented boy), engaging with the audience.

And the audience?  Well, they lapped it all up.  The screaming simply never seemed to stop.  Kids were jumping up and down.  And upon his request, what could I do, but jump too?  Well, he did ask us all too and I was only too happy to please.  Never mind jumping, I even sang along.  Amazing, especially given the fact that I don’t even know his music.  I simply opened my mouth and sang or hummed.  That is how charismatic he is.  And then he took his shirt off.  I am quite sure that a spate of fainting ensued.  My ears hurt.

I include a clip of one of his songs, taken by a fan in the Golden Circle.  Incredible!  Just listen how the audience sings along.  They know every single word!

Amber looked just like those old film clips from years ago, where you see the girls screaming for The Beatles.  Though to be honest, I was screaming too in exactly the same fashion.  Which in itself is pretty surprising for a few reasons: a) I don't really like The Bieber, b) I don't really know or particularly like The Bieber's songs, c) I don't do unprovoked squealing unless there's a snake involved or I get a very, very big fright.  It just goes to prove, you’re never too old to learn something new about yourself.  Who would have thought?

I marvel at the parents who paid for expensive “Meet-and-Greets”.  Apparently at a cost of about R6 265 you could buy your child an opportunity to meet Justin in person, chat to him for a moment or two and pose for a photo with him.  Amber had a friend who was fortunate to have one of these, but sadly she said on the day after the concert, Justin had been a bit tired, so she didn’t get much time with him.  Amazing!  At Luke’s High School alone, there were apparently over two hundred girls absent on the day of the concert.  Even though the concert was only due to start that evening, they still didn’t go to school.  Another friend of mine is a teacher at an all-girls school and she said that on the day of the concert, they had received in excess of eighty “please excuse my daughter early from school” letters.  Then there were other stories too.  Many, many of the teenagers, camped outside the stadium, from the night before the concert to ensure that they got right to the very front.  Personally I can think of few things worse, than being squished up against the railing, with everyone pushing against you.  I can only imagine the amazing feeling of camaraderie that these kids had though in their long vigil waiting for the gates to open up.  What an experience.  One they will never forget.

For all of us there, Justin Bieber’s concert was incredible, and very nearly un-BELIEVE-able.  An unforgettable experience.  Long will the glow live on.  And I am so glad that I had the privilege of taking my little girl to her very first concert ever. 

From our cheap seats, Amber and I both donned binoculars for lots of the concert.  Which enabled us awesome visuals and I am so grateful for the foresight I had in taking them along.  It did however, highlight for me the problem of Justin’s broeks.  A lot of the time, I was overcome by a powerful urge to pull that boy’s pants up.  It just looks so darn uncomfortable, having the crotch line of his broeks resting firmly just above his knees. 

And so, I conclude, that I have turned into a bit of a Belieber.  I Belieb he is one of the biggest success stories of our time.  I Belieb he is one of the biggest stars of his age.  A very, very tough act to follow.  Furthermore, his chest is rather lovely. 

Belieb me!

My little Belieber - all ready for the show

I'm a Belieber - apparently

My Berry is a Belieber too

All done - crowd slowly filing out

Just before the start of the show - filling up nicely - apparently there were 52 000 fans there
Fans outside the stadium - this mom is clearly stating her intentions

Dedicated fans - in the queue from the night before the show

Eager beavers - queuing for their hero

Simply loads of them - they all bunked school

The Bieber finally on stage - and the crowd goes wild!


Capacity crowd

Fans right up front showing their support

Justin engaging with the audience

Amazing lights - incredible!

The girls just loved him!

Justin and some of his male dancers


Ag no man! I just wanted to pull the poor boy's broeks up for him. It looks so uncomfortable!
One less lonely girl
One of the posed Meet-and-Greet pics - this girl's parents paid dearly for this privilege

Best pic of the whole concert.  My favourite by far.  This is the queue outside the bar during the concert.  Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!



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