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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bieber faints backstage, attacks paparazzi

Posted: 03/9/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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LONDON -- Justin Bieber's week just got worse.

Following a brief hospital stay after fainting backstage, the 19-year-old pop star's preparation for a final concert in London on Friday hit a speed bump.

Bieber got into an altercation with insult-hurling paparazzi, lashing out at a photographer with a stream of expletives as he was restrained by minders.

The singer quickly took to Twitter to address the incident, which was captured by Channel 5 news, and pledged to channel his "adrenaline" into his Friday show.

"Ahhhhh! Rough morning. Trying to feel better for this show tonight but let the paps get the best of me," he posted on the social networking site.

"Sometimes when people r shoving cameras in your face all day and yelling the worst thing possible at u...well I'm human. Rough week."

The scuffle came just hours after Bieber said he was "getting better" after struggling to breathe during the previous night's concert at the O2 Arena, and pledged the show would go on as planned.

A spokesman for the O2 Arena said the 19-year-old pop star was treated backstage during Thursday's concert after becoming short of breath, but recovered and finished his set.

"As far as we are concerned everything is on, on, on" for Friday's show, Jeremy King said.

"He was treated by our team of medics and after further examination they didn't find anything more serious or worrying."

A spokeswoman for Bieber said he was recovering after Thursday's incident, which saw him given oxygen before returning to the stage.

"Justin has been released from the hospital after a checkup and, while he's feeling a little under the weather, he's currently planning on going ahead with tonight's show," the spokeswoman said Friday. She demanded anonymity to discuss the star's condition.

Bieber later posted a shirtless photo of himself in a hospital bed, saying he was getting better and listening to Janis Joplin. Before that on Twitter he thanked "everyone pulling me thru tonight."

"Best fans in the world," he wrote. "Figuring out what happened. Thanks for the love."

Video footage from the concert shows Bieber appearing to fade during a performance of his up-tempo hit, Beauty and a Beat. He slows down, puts a hand to his head then bends over, resting his hands on knees before walking slowly to the back of the stage.

The AP spoke to 18-year-old journalism student Prithvi Pandya, who shot the footage, to confirm its authenticity.

"When he started Beauty and a Beat you could see he was struggling," said Pandya, who was near the front of the crowd. "He took lots of drinks of water, that seemed unusual, and he was really sweaty, sweating a helluva lot.

"Toward the end of it, he went backstage. We didn't see him fainting. They brought on dancers to entertain, and I knew something was wrong at that point."

Bieber's manager, Scooter Braun, appeared onstage and told the crowd that the singer was feeling "very low of breath" but would come back to finish the show.

Jazz Chappell, a 20-year-old concertgoer, said that in the nearly 30 minutes he was offstage, some fans started to leave. Once his manager announced what had happened, Chappell said many fans in the audience were gasping and crying, while others kept cheering for him to return.

The incident caps a difficult week for Bieber. He was forced to apologize to outraged fans who accused him of taking the stage almost two hours late for his first concert at the O2 on Monday. He insisted he was only 40 minutes late and blamed "technical issues." He took to Twitter to vent his frustrations with the media's portrayal of the incident.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 9, 2013 G5

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