“Tonight’s turning out to be one of the best nights of my life,” Justin Bieber told his fans who had packed the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai Wednesday evening. The young and hip population of neighbourhoods such as Bandra and Versova thinned out significantly as the city’s Beliebers made their way to Nerul to catch the 23-year-old Canadian popstar’s debut concert in India.
By the time the baby-faced hitmaker took the stage at 8 pm, approximately 50,000 fans were in attendance, after braving the heat and humidity, tamer opening acts and poor public facilities.
Marking his first-ever India visit, fans waved a Tricolour on the stage. Dressed in his signature white T-shirt and black shorts, Bieber began his 90-minute set with Mark My Words, from his 2015 album, Purpose, which is also the name of his world tour.
Several fans were tearful in the beginning, overcome by emotion, but as Bieber performed his other hits like the upbeat Baby, the electro-influenced What Do You Mean, which elicited a thunderous roar from the audience, the energy at the stadium became more charged. Bieber went through a few costume changes but never veering away from his monochrome aesthetic. About 25 backup dancers matched their steps to songs like Where Are You Now and No Sense.
Bollywood came out in full force with Alia Bhatt, Malaika Arora Khan, Sridevi and her daughters Jhanvi and Khushi, Arjun Rampal, Bipasha Basu and Jacqueline Fernandez spotted in the audience. Bieber changed the mood when he performed Love Yourself, accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar. The stripped-down song harked back to the kind of performance that got him noticed on the streets of Stratford, Canada, nearly seven years ago.
For those fans, however, who had not purchased tickets for the Diamond (Rs 25,200), Platinum (Rs 15,400), Gold (Rs 10,800) and Silver (Rs 7,700) categories, the concert wasn’t much fun.
The audience in the general category (Rs 4,000) had several complaints. “There were no speakers around our seats. We could only hear the music from a distance. Also, the stage is a little low so we could not see the other artistes. There were only two screens, and when the opening acts, like Alan Walker, were performing, they were playing his videos and not showing him on the screen,” said Purnett Moirangthem, a sound editor.
Other complaints included lack of dustbins, unclean washrooms and expensive food.
There were no dustbins to be seen around the food counters and garbage was strewn all over the stadium ground. “There are no dustbins here. The washrooms are filthy and the food is exorbitantly priced. Even mineral water is charged at Rs 100, way above the MRP,” said Vanshika Sharma.
While water was provided at the counters inside the stadium, not many fans were aware and as the heat beat down on those who had entered the grounds at 2 pm, many were forced to purchase the over-priced bottles.
Back on the stage, Bieber invited four children to dance with him and just when fans thought the show had come to an end, he reappeared to perform his monster hit, Sorry. “It was a great honour performing in India. I will definitely come back,” he said.