That sentiment was easily seen in more ways than one during the course of the nearly two-hour show, which was billed as “An Evening With Justin Bieber.” The 21-year-old admitted he was slightly overwhelmed by the lengthy Q&A that kicked off the show, explaining he always gets “awkward and nervous” with public speaking. But as soon as it was time for him to perform a mini acoustic concert for the crowd, he became visibly more comfortable and confident. And, in the process, he reminded everyone in the Staples Center why his highly publicized and scrutinized comeback, culminating in Purpose’s release, is most welcome: the dude was born to perform.
Inside the arena, it looked like any regular Bieber concert: merch tables were set up all around the venue, fans held up giant posters and cardboard cutouts of his face (one poster read: “My life has no purpose without you”), vendors walked around selling copies of the new CD, and fans shrieked whenever they were caught on the Jumbotron. All of the nosebleeds sections were blocked off, and the added intimacy felt poignant for an event that reunited Bieber with fans he likely hadn’t seen in the three years since his last album and tour.
The 2:30 p.m. show was the first of three events on Friday, meaning it was inherently more prone to mistakes and glitches. And while there were a few hiccups (the rotating stage making Bieber feel dizzy, a slight issue with the sound, some forgotten lyrics), it was ultimately a feel-good affair during which the man of the hour was refreshingly open and honest. Here are the 15 best things we saw and learned:
Justin knows how to make a killer entrance.Getty Images
After his fan-favorite manager, Scooter Braun, kicked things off by promising to show us “Justin, the way you’ve never seen him before,” JB came rolling through one of the tunnels on a skateboard, riding straight up to the stage in true style.
He said he included the two monologues on the album (during “Purpose” and “All In It”) because he wanted to be able to “talk real” with his fans.Jason Merritt/Getty Images
“I just wanted to use my voice. I don’t do a lot of interviews anymore, and I just wanted to be able to speak on my album and just talk real. Just give them some wisdom and stuff that I’ve been through in my life and just encourage them.”
His relationships are what helped him “turn things around” and get back into a healthy place.Getty Images
“I think just surrounding myself with people that are encouraging me and people who are on my side… you have to surround yourself with people who are going to build you up. [...] My relationship with God helped a lot. I think my relationship with my friends and building solid relationships. I think that it’s just really important to have people who really care about you that help build you up.”
But don’t ask him for romantic relationship advice.Jason Merritt/Getty Images
When a fan asked him to dish out some “words of wisdom” to her friend who’s going through a breakup, Bieber wasn’t too confident. “Words of wisdom? Uh… I’m not really good at relationship counseling. I can’t even keep a relationship going.”
Justin had a hard time picking just one favorite song from Purpose.Getty Images
“‘Mark My Words’ is one of my favorites. I really like ‘Purpose’ and ‘All In It.’”
“Life Is Worth Living” is a super meaningful song to him, and the first one that he decided would be on the album.Getty Images
“‘Life Is Worth Living’ for me was just… I wanted to once again just share my journey. Share the fact that there are people that are stressed out, people that are going through problems. […] I think when you’re being the best version of yourself, you surround yourself with people that are encouraging.”
His advice for aspiring musicians was spot-on.Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images
“Stay focused. Work hard. Be passionate about what you do. And be kind to people. Because I see often people in this industry — they’re not even that talented but they’re just kind to people. And that usually brings them the extra mile.”
His faith and his relationship with God mean a lot to him because they help him feel less alone.Jason Merritt/Getty Images
“It’s a journey. We’re all just trying to make it through it. And I think that having that foundation of something to believe in [that’s] greater than yourself, it just makes it easier to get through the day. Knowing that you’re not alone, that helps a lot.”
JB had some sound advice for people who are going through challenging times.Getty Images
“I would just say keep your head up and know the best is yet to come. Know that I’m on the journey with you. Every day is a fight — you’re going to wake up and there’s going to be struggles and things that go on that are out of your control. But if you have a positive mind and positive spirit about it, nothing can hold you back.”
It feels great for him to “be back” after some time away.Getty Images
Before diving into a six-song acoustic set (“What Do You Mean,” “Love Yourself,” “As Long As You Love Me,” “Sorry,” “One Less Lonely Girl” and “Where Are U Now”) with guitarist Dan Kanter, he said, “It feels great. This is where I feel most comfortable, not obviously talking and stuff, but I feel most comfortable when I’m singing and performing for the people that I love.”
His tradition of serenading a fan during “One Less Lonely Girl” is still alive and strong.Jason Merritt/Getty Images
This girl was the envy of everyone!
He still has a little bit of practice to do for his live rendition of “Love Yourself.”Getty Images
This performance was gorgeous, especially when Kanter played the harmonica during the “da da da” breakdown and when Bieber raised the key for the last chorus. But he stumbled during the final verse and admitted he forgot some of the words. It’s OK, JB!
Skateboarding could possibly be part of his upcoming tour.Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
Besides rolling up to the stage on it, he also performed a few tricks WHILE performing. Talk about a multi-tasker! Maybe his board will make an appearance on the Purpose tour?!
We were the very first crowd to see JB's new “dance short film.”Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
“Purpose: The Movement” paired each track on the standard edition of Purpose with a high-production accompanying dance sequence. Bieber only appeared in two of the clips: the first, for “Mark My Words,” saw his singing atop a vintage piano in a sunny desert, and the last, for “Purpose,” saw him brooding in the same scenery while a handful of female dancers moved intimately around him. Among the rest of the clips were an edgy, grungy routine filmed in an empty warehouse and a Go Pro-shot vid filmed inside a supermarket.
And his goodbye to fans was sweet and humble.Getty Images
“Keep working hard. Keep being the best versions of yourselves. I’m going to try to do the same. Peace out.”