Justin Bieber, O2, London
The Decemberists, Hammersmith Apollo, London

Justin Bieber – talentless, neocon YouTube sensation – shows how internet wholesomeness, not filth, is poisoning the kids

Statistically, 1,150 of the young female glowstick-wavers in Justin Bieber's audience at the 02 tonight will at some point be the victim of rape. Of those, about 34 will be pregnant as a result.

What would Justin say? The dazzle-toothed, sweep-haired heart-throb would be all compassion, wouldn't he? Not if his recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine is anything to go by. A Christian and a pro-lifer, the 17-year-old opined: "I really don't believe in abortion, it's like killing a baby!" When pressed on the subject of pregnancies resulting from rape, he added: "Um ... well, I think that's really sad, but everything happens for a reason."

Everything happens for a reason. And the reason, parents of Britain, is you. As the Smiths so presciently put it, Bieberism begins at home. You can set up all the internet porn filters you like, but good old-fashioned filth isn't what you should be worrying about: it's excessive cleanliness.

The squeaky-clean Canadian phenomenon – with the record for the most singles from a debut album on the Billboard chart, we can safely call Bieber a phenomenon – made his name via that most innocuous of channels, YouTube. His faux-DIY film clips of a capella renditions of pop hits, shared by millions, were followed by mini-documentaries screened during television ad breaks, like he was already a thing. You've got to hand it to these god-bothering neocons: they've got their game locked down tight.

As the countdown clock raises the scream volume to Heathrow runway levels, a large cage-ball sits centre-stage, as though we're about to see a human hamster. Which, in a sense, we are. The latterday Osmond starts with "Love Me", whose chorus borrows, credited, the lyrics from "Lovefool" by The Cardigans (if there's one good thing to arise from Bieber Fever it's that Nina Persson can now afford to keep making records for ever), launches into the least convincing martial arts show ever, then squeaks "I love you, Lon-din!" with all the sincerity of a Spitalfields hooker.

Fakery and fraud you expect from a manufactured pop act. What's weird about Bieber is that he isn't even technically accomplished. With his floppy-ankled gait and blatant use of lipsynch, he's no great shakes as a singer or dancer. More gifted kids than Bieber get left behind at boot camp in every season of every TV talent show.

Bieber was singled out because he is a biological freak. In every class at every school, there's one kid who hits puberty later than the rest, and is pilloried for it. In Bieber's case, it's made him a billionaire. Those never-shaved cheeks have given him a sexless prettiness at an age when most kids are out drinking and crashing cars. There have been scare stories about his voice breaking. When it does, fear not: the industry will invent Bieber 2.0.

For now, there's an hour and a half of Bieberpop to endure, consisting of bloodless R&B with every last vestige of blackness bleached out. For "Never Let You Go", he's strapped inside a steel heart and flown over our heads. For "One Less Lonely Girl", a fan is picked from the crowd, pecked on the cheek, and snapped with a toy camera by support act Willow Smith. You get the picture.

It's padded out with a turn by his backing singers Legaci, a message urging us "Don't Text Drunk", and home movies of Bieber as a toddler, singing Timberlake's "Cry Me A River". There are covers of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" by "Michael Jack-sin!", whose ghost stalks the stage in the faintly insulting forms of a rubbish sparkly glove, futile crotch-grab and hopeless robotic dancing, plus Aerosmith's "Walk This Way", which omits the line "you ain't seen nothing till you're down on the muffin" because someone told him you should only sing about what you know.

From the number of crush barriers outside Hammersmith Apollo, anyone would think Justin Bieber was playing a secret show. Instead the restraints are in place to control the sedate fans of The Decemberists.

There's a feeling in the building that nobody realised how many fellow fans they had. The thoughtful, literate Oregon band used to appeal to a kind of Venn intersection between fans of alt-country and Belle & Sebastian indie schmindie, but they've gone full-blown Americana of late. With their harmonicas and pedal steel, not to mention the endorsement of REM, they'd have slotted right into the Whistle Test-led "Paisley Underground" movement of the mid-Eighties: "Calamity Song", in particular, could easily be The Long Ryders.

The Decemberists are adored by the, er, Decemberist-ists to such a degree that every song is greeted with a cheer which makes you think "OK, so this must be the hit". Indeed, it's hard not to warm to a band who can sneak phrases like "purloined in Petrograd" into an utterly trad country song.

But I also can't help thinking that their thirtysomething worshippers ought to be rushing home to check up on what their children are listening to. It might be Justin Bieber.

Next Week

Simon catches Kylie's Aphrodite tour as it touches down in Glasgow

Rock choice

The annual Teenage Cancer Trust concerts begin at the Royal Albert Hall, starring Squeeze (Tue); Biffy Clyro (Wed); Roger Daltrey performing The Who's Tommy (Thu); Beady Eye (Fri); Editors (Sat) and Tinie Tempah, above, (Sun 27). Meanwhile, Kylie Minogue launches the British leg of her Aphrodite – Les Folies tour extravaganza with two dates at the Cardiff Arena (Fri, Sat).



Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.


Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss