Nick Invites Fans To Grow Along With Him
Not long after he took the stage at the Ryman Auditorium Monday night, Nick Jonasaddressed the elephant in the room. He said that he knew his audience hadn’t heard many of the songs he was playing that evening.
“But I know you’re quick learners,” he added. “So, are you with me tonight?”
The members of his audience – almost exclusively teenage and female – squealed in affirmation.
It was Jonas’ third concert on his first tour with his brand new band, The Administration. Exactly one year before, his more famous group, The Jonas Brothers, had a cameo-filled concert event on the same stage. But without his brothers or a cast of country stars, Jonas held his own with visible confidence.
Granted, he didn’t have to win over his audience – the medium-sized venue held room for only the diehard Jonas fans prepared to adore whatever he attempted. But it’s no small feat to hold the attention of a tweenage crowd with mostly unheard material.
Jonas combated this with a show peppered with call-and-response sessions, dance-friendly breakdowns and instantly recognizable covers. But mostly, the 90-minute set served as a appetizer for Jonas and the Adminstration’s upcoming debut album, Who I Am, which seems set to feature less saccharine, but no less polished material than Jonas Brothersreleases.
Jonas flaunted a fresh, old-soul sensibility – and an impressive falsetto – in tunes like the Stevie Wonder-inspired soul strutter “State of Emergency” and the surprisingly heavy-riffing rocker “Conspiracy Theory.”
No shortage of credit for the classic feel is due to the air-tight grooves of the Administration, a economical backing band composed of three former members of Prince’s New Power Generation and Jonas’ longtime producer John Fields. Even when Jonas took on well-known cuts from the Jonas Brothers catalog, they were often given a slinky, subtle funk makeover that made the tunes unrecognizable until the lyrics arrived.
Jonas stuck to the script more closely on a mini-set of recent pop hits, though he had to ask his fans for help on the second verse of his acoustic cover of “Fireflies” by Owl City. He didn’t need any help when he became the latest in a mile-long line of pop stars to cover Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody.”
Transitioning into adulthood – artistically and otherwise – has never been an easy task for teenage performers. Jonas appears to be navigating as best he can. He may hope that the Administration’s more nuanced take on super-smooth pop can win him an older audience as he nears the end of his high-school years, and that hope could certainly be achieved. At the very least, he’s offering a great opportunity for the fans he already has to grow along with him.