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Monday, July 15, 2024

Stavanger braced for Bieber mania

UPDATED: Pop star Justin Bieber can still stir up a fuss in Norway, with his concert before around 30,000 fans at Forus in Stavanger setting off huge traffic challenges on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Bieber himself took off for some motocross motion after landing in Stavanger on Tuesday.

Justin Bieber, shown here at a concert in 2015, still manages to spark “Biebermania” wherever he goes. PHOTO: Wikipedia

“Is it right that you deal in motocross and rentals?” asked a voice on the phone to Fredrik Ingebrigtsen, proprietor of the motocross supplier Allsupermoto in Forus, late Tuesday afternoon. “Justin Bieber wants to ride in 45 minutes.”

Ingebrigtsen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday that he quickly loaded up some cycles and equipment and drove to the nearest motocross track at Vigrestad on the open, airy expanses of Jæren. It’s located on the West Coast south of Stavanger and Sola, where the airport is. It didn’t take long before a convoy of large SUVs appeared on the horizon of the relatively flat landscape. They stopped and Justin Bieber got out, jumped up on the roof of one of the vehicles and breathed in the clear, cool, coastal air.

“Then he came over to me, thanked me at least five times (for organizing all the motorcross equipment on short notice) and said he was super-geared to ride,” Ingebrigtsen told NRK. “He was really nice!”

That’s in sharp contrast to his behaviour at a small concert in Oslo two years ago, when he disappointed fans by stomping off stage in a fit of anger. He also sparked chaos in Oslo in 2012 and on subsequent visits, amidst claims that police and event arrangers had not provided enough security. Perhaps he was trying to make up for that, or perhaps he’s grown up since then. He made, at least, a very good impression on Ingebrigtsen, and posed for a photo with a 10-year-old girl who lives nearby.

After riding around the Jæren landscape, with its views over the North Sea, Bieber disappeared almost as fast as he arrived. Within 10 minutes of his departure, fans known as “Beliebers” started showing up. “I’m really impressed how Beliebers manage to find things out,” Ingebrightsen said, who received tickets to the concert after returning a pair of shoes to Bieber that he forgot at the motocross track. Norwegian media outlets were reporting Wednesday that Bieber was staying at the Stavanger home of former volleyball star Bjørn Maaseide.

State highway officials, meanwhile, were warning of heavy traffic around the Forus area Wednesday evening. Concert-goers were urged to leave their cars at home and use public transportation. Exit ramps off the nearby E39 highway were nonetheless expected to be clogged and even closed during certain periods.

“It’s important that folks don’t just hop out of cars stopped on the E39 to get to the concert area,” stated Johan Gismervik of the highway department (Statens vegvesen). “Follow the signs and be patient.”

Some concert-goers complained on NRK’s nightly newscast of “chaos” at the concert itself, and some left early, also complaing on air of poor sound and a pop star who didn’t seem to know or acknowledge where he was. “I think I only heard him say ‘Norway’ once,” one young woman told NRK.

One reviewer noted that Bieber’s concert was “an exact copy” of the one he held in Oslo’s Telenor Arena last year, in terms of his song list, dance steps and lighting effects. Bieber, dressed in a grey sweatsuit and wearing glasses for the occasion, delivered what was called a “cold and boring” concert. Rain and chilly temperatures clearly dampened the mood as well. Berglund



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