Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Concert review: Jonas Brothers offer meaningful pop performance to hometown crowd
They don’t belong on a forgettable list of 15-minute, teen pop flashes.
DALLAS In the grand pantheon of teen pop sensations, a long and largely forgettable list of 15-minute flashes, the Jonas Brothers always seemed slightly to the left of the pack. Sure, they rode the same wave that turns pubescent girls’ hearts to mush. But there’s always been more at work here. There is genuine potential, talent even, that deserves rediscovering particularly now that Nick, Joe, and Kevin Jonas are on the other side of the heyday.
The trio’s last studio album, 2009′s Lines, Vines and Trying Times, sold markedly less than its predecessors 2007′s Jonas Brothers and 2008′s A Little Bit Longer. Solo offerings from Nick (2010′s Who I Am) and Joe (2011′s Fastlife) didn’t fare any better. The brothers’ three-year hiatus from the stateside concert stage cost them fans. This is a group that once filled Cowboys Stadium. Tuesday night’s show at Gexa Energy Pavilion drew 4,900 admirers.
That’s a shame because the tunes I’ve heard so far from the JoBros’ upcoming studio disc, V, represent some of their best work. “First Time,” which opened the concert, has a swirling, nocturnal, adult vibe. “Pom Poms” is all catchy chorus and stomping beat, while “Found” is a slinky, mid-tempo pop number. “The World” has a techno-trippy synthesized loop that accentuates a groovy hook. “Let’s Go” is all propulsive teen pop with rapping attitude. “What Do I Mean to You” unleashes a rock edge that I’ve never witnessed on a Jonas Brothers cut.
All of these songs were produced by Nick, who is clearly the group’s overachieving musical dynamo. But the three Jonas siblings have been writing their own material since the 2006 debut It’s About Time. On the two follow-up albums they dispensed with most of the outside co-writers and crafted the tunes themselves. It’s still pretty powerful to hear Nick Jonas sing “A Little Bit Longer,” a song about his struggles with Type 1 Diabetes, while sitting at the piano. Teflon teen pop sensations don’t compose songs about the lifelong disease that caught them at the tender age of 13.
Even the Jonas Brothers’ band on that Gexa stage Tuesday night was hefty. Seven members, including a saxophonist, background vocalist, and keyboardist, kept the sound full and authentic. This wasn’t mere computerized gadgetry thinly supported by guitar, bass, and drums. Nick, who was born in Dallas, took to the six strings, the drums, and the piano. Joe Jonas, the pin-up of the family, acknowledged that “it’s nice to be back to the place we call home,” referencing the brothers’ house in Westlake.
For the hysterical female fans standing around me, this homecoming couldn’t have arrived any sooner. The ballad “When You Look Me In the Eyes,” the teen pop anthem “Burnin’ Up,” and the bouncy ditty “That’s Just the Way We Roll” elicited all matter of screaming, singing, crying, and jumping. When Joe Jonas made his grand entrance by walking down the aisle next to our section, I truly thought one teen girl in particular was going to need oxygen.
But when all of that goes away, and it will soon enough, I hope somebody, anybody, notices that Nick, 20, Joe, 23, and Kevin, 25, have musical substance to share. It would be disappointing to see them become yet another teen pop footnote.
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