Justin Bieber Played a Surprise Concert at NHL All Star Party at Toronto’s History: What You Missed
It was an intimate invite-only performance for the Canadian pop star at an event co-hosted by his fashion label drew house.
Justin Bieber took the stage for a surprise concert at History venue in Toronto on Thursday night (Feb. 1) at an NHL All Star party for the Canadian pop star’s fashion label drew house. The label made this year’s official All Star jerseys, and its yellow and smiley faced brand has been ubiquitous throughout the city as the festivities get underway leading into the weekend.
It was an extremely intimate performance in the 2,500 capacity room for the Ontario-born singer, who usually plays at the city’s arenas and stadiums. It was his first concert in more than a year. The event was co-presented by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bieber is arguably the team’s biggest celebrity fan, often seen at games and also alongside the players.
Many hockey players were in attendance, including hometown Leafs stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander, along with other celebrity guests including actors Adam DiMarco (of The White Lotus fame) and Stephan James, musicians Canadian mega-producer Murda Beatz and wrestler Adam Copeland (formerly known as Edge).
Bieber took part in the NHL All Star Draft as a celebrity captain alongside Leafs Matthews and Morgan Rielly at Scotiabank Arena earlier in the night, but skipped the drew house-branded “yellow carpet” at History. Still, there was a buzz in the air that the invite-only crowd might get a glimpse of the star onstage as his band, WETHEBAND, jammed live guitar solos and drum beats to classics by 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G.
At around 11 pm, the lights dimmed and out came Bieber. Decked out in a blue and yellow drew house NHL jersey, the star sat on a stool and launched into his breakout 2010 hit “Baby.” His almost-indifferent stage presence and slouched posture screamed nonchalance, but his voice was as velvety as ever as he sang an emotional and updated version of the song that made him a household name as a teenager, including some surprisingly impressive spoken word pseudo-rapping of the Ludacris verses.
Bieber didn’t have any special guests, but played a number of songs he collaborated on, including the smooth acoustic version of SZA’s “Snooze.” He also sang his hit “Peaches,” first as an almost-acapella slow jam, then launching into the upbeat version that hit No. 1 in 2021. That song’s collaborator, local singer-songwriter Daniel Caesar, was not in the house, but as he did with “Baby,” Bieber showed his full versatility performing it on his own.
Ali El Moudi for Billboard Canada
He’s still a major arena artist and a tabloid fixture, but as a performer the 29-year-old Bieber has already become something of a legacy artist. He can play songs from a hit-filled catalogue that spans a decade and a half. Teen hits like “Eenie Meenie” (originally with Sean Kingston) fit his grown-up semi-R&B delivery, fitting right alongside newer hits like “Hold On” and “Ghost” from 2021’s Justice. Seeing him up close in a small room, stripped away from the theatrics of an arena show, the power of his vocals are what shine through.
Ali El Moudi for Billboard Canada
“Is LAROI here?” Bieber asked towards the end of his set. He seemed to be expecting a guest appearance from The Kid LAROI, presumably to duet on their No. 1 hit “Stay,” but nobody joined him onstage. He shrugged and said maybe he’d come back later, then walked off stage after only six songs.
The party continued on for about two hours after that, and many people seemed to expect another performance – either from Bieber or another special guest. As VIPs schmoozed in a cordoned off upstage area and others sipped special Tim Hortons coffee cocktails (a drew house food truck gave out free coffee from the Canadian-favourite chain outside Scotiabank Arena earlier in the night), some fans stuck close to the stage waiting for another set that never came.
Bieber’s DJ Tay James kept spinning music throughout the night, but someone whispered something to him around 1:45 am and he started to pack up his gear. “I was running out of songs to play,” he quipped. A “Justin” chant broke out in front of the stage, and the DJ quickly answered “he left.”
It was an anticlimactic end to a rare night, but one that gave a lot of people bragging rights for their social media. It’s not every day you get to see a pop star as big as Bieber up close.