Nick Brings his Tour To New York
NEW YORK – If you doubt that Nick Jonas has songwriting in his blood, consider this: He wrote a new song on Jan. 5.
Let me explain. On Jan. 2, the youngest of the three Jonas Brothers embarked on his first tour as a solo artist, a tour that will lead the singer-guitarist-keyboardist and his four-piece backing band to 22 concerts in 14 cities over 29 days. Jonas is planning to release his debut solo album, “Who I Am,” on Feb. 2.
That’s a lot for anyone to deal with, and keep in mind that even though he’s an internationally known pop star, Jonas is still just 17 years old.
Yet he found the time, three days into the tour, to write a new song. Introducing “Stay” Jan. 7 night at the Beacon Theatre, Jonas said it had been written just two nights before. And it was one of the highlights of the 95-minute set: an anguished, classically styled soul ballad that allowed for a lot of emoting and a big finish during which Jonas dropped to his knees and pounded the floor with his fist.
Nick Jonas shows off his athletic side, Jan. 7 at the Beacon Theatre in New York
Jonas, who grew up in Wyckoff (and told the crowd “It’s good to be home”), has not left the Jonas Brothers. He’s just taking advantage of a rare break in the trio’s schedule to play some music on his own. (His brother Kevin watched the Beacon show from the orchestra section, but didn’t perform.)
Most of the music Jonas played at the Jan. 7 show, which kicked off a two-night stand at the Beacon, did not represent a radical departure from the Jonas Brothers’ sound, and Jonas Brothers songs like “Tonight,” “Black Keys,” “Before the Storm” and “Inseparable” were scattered throughout the set list.
Yet the overall vibe of the show was more adult and more personal, and Jonas sometimes strayed from the Brothers’ power-pop/power-ballad formula to play dark, slightly ominous mid-tempo rock (”Last Time Around,” “Rose Garden”), funk-rock (”State of Emergency,” the “Who I Am” title track) and psychedelic rock (”Conspiracy Theory”).
Sonny Thompson — one of three members of Jonas’ band who is a former Prince sideman — did most of the heavy lifting on guitar, adding wild solos to several numbers. Drummer Michael Bland was also a standout, playing with boundless energy throughout the show.
Covers included recent chart-toppers (a solo acoustic medley of Owl City’s “Fireflies” and Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody”) as well as a nod to Motown (a perky version of the Stevie Wonder hit, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours”). Between songs, Jonas gave an inspirational talk about seizing new opportunities in the new year and told a corny joke after deadpanning that he wanted to prove he’s “the funny one” in the Jonas Brothers.
Okay, so he didn’t really prove that. His delivery of the joke, read from a book he held in his hand, couldn’t have been stiffer. More important, he didn’t prove, throughout the course of the show, that he has anything original to say as a solo artist. His new songs are more well-crafted genre exercises than a unique fusion of influences.
Still, Nick Jonas has so much talent and ambition that it’s hard to imagine he won’t get there. There aren’t many musicians in rock history, after all, who were further along when they were 17.