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The Boston Globe

Music

Music Review

Justin Bieber a barnstormer on autopilot

At the very top of his sold-out concert Saturday night at the TD Garden, Justin Bieber floated out from the stage in a harness with wings (made from speakers) strapped to his back. For those both keen on mythology and privy to the carnival of increasingly unflattering PR gaffes he’s had in recent months, the Icarus imagery was there for the taking. But while Bieber’s hubris has been making him fly perilously close to the sun offstage, his show was hampered by a greater sin: the singer’s detachment from his own performance.

It’s not as though Bieber was apathetic or disdainful toward his songs or even his fans, though taking the stage half an hour late didn’t help. But there was no sense that he took any pleasure from being one of the biggest pop stars in the world and putting on a show with a three-tiered stage, a phalanx of dancers, and kicky pop songs. His entire performance was proficient and joyless; he could repeatedly plow through complicated song-and-dance routines without smiling afterward, either at what he’d done or the rapturous response it generated. “Beauty and A Beat” was a frisky dancefloor pumper, and Bieber looked as though he was doing calculus in his head.

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