Cody Simpson made the girls swoon – well, all but one – and danced with pal Justin Bieber when his Paradise tour rolled into Los Angeles on Friday night (June 14). The 16-year-old treated his adoring Angels at Club Nokia to an eclectic but always entertaining set that showcased the Australian’s easy charm and undeniable talent but also the fact that he is still a work in progress. All the ingredients of a great pop star are there but the surf enthusiast hasn’t quite found his sound yet – jumping wildly from acoustic guitar-ballads to slick dance-pop.
One of the least enjoyable aspects of the show was the half-hour wait between the final support act and the first glimpse of Cody. That time was filled with some backstage footage and an awkward appearance from the star’s sister but the crowd grew restless and only perked up again when pics of the heartthrob in a wetsuit plastered the video screens. When Simpson finally arrived, he gave his all. Opening with “Be The One”, the teenager danced up a storm in a snazzy vest that showed off his bulging biceps. Girls screamed. A lot has changed since “iYiYi”.
Speaking of that Flo Rida-assisted guilty pleasure, it closed the show and sounded completely awesome. Forget the dubious lyrics, it’s addictive fun and had everyone singing along. The upbeat songs definitely got a stronger reaction than the stripped-back ballads, which occasionally fell flat. It could be a sound that suits Cody better as he grows older but, for now, dance-pop seems to be a happier hunting ground. “Wish You Were Here” was an absolute highlight and really should have been a gigantic hit. “On My Mind” and “All Day” also hold up as better examples of post-Bieber boy-pop.
Perhaps the most memorable moment was completely unintentional. Cody scoured the audience for a lucky fan to serenade. The girls standing next to me were literally crying and shaking at the prospect of meeting their idol. Unfortunately, the little lady they settled on had better things to do – like text. Amusement turned to embarrassment as the tween steadfastly refused to take her eyes off her phone while Simpson valiantly continued singing (above). It was awkward but the singer displayed maturity and charm by taking it on the chin.
If the texting girl wasn’t enough added value, fans were also treated to an impromptu dance routine from Justin Bieber. The mega-star dropped by to perform some loose choreography to “Pretty Brown Eyes” and charmed everyone by making a total ham of himself. Cody isn’t quite at his friend’s level when it comes to churning out hits but Friday’s performance showed he’s definitely on the right path.