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Radio City Christmas Spectacular comes to Portland

December 24, 2010 No comments
Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Portland is a wonderful city at Christmas, even if we don’t get much snow. Our city has a little something for everyone, like walking the SE neighborhood street Peacock Lane to see the beautifully lit houses, bundling up for the train ride at Zoo Lights, or driving the Portland International Raceway track to see the lights of Winter Wonderland.

This year we are excited to add something new to the mix – the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the world-famous Rockettes. This new touring production is constructed for large-scale venues like the Rose Garden, replicating the Christmas Spectacular production playing New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

The 90 minute show is enchanting and beautiful, both from the set design and digital scenery on an 80 ft. LED screen, and the singing and dancing. One thing we immediately appreciated was the show’s sense of timeless tradition and elegance. There are no ridiculously overblown light shows or frenetically paced dance numbers. Each vignette of dancing or storytelling is introduced by Santa, beginning with his entrance on stage in his sleigh pulled by Rockette reindeer. Our favorite performances include New York at Christmas, the glittering costumes in the closing number, and something special with a company of Santas that you have to see for yourself.

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Michael Bublé Concert Review

April 3, 2010 8 comments
Michael Bublé Concert Portland

Michael Bublé Concert Portland

A lot of performers have put on a suit, stepped up to the mic and made an attempt at the gold standards. It’s an alluring cannon of music which instantly resonates with a huge number of music fans. The problem, though, when you sing classic songs is that it’s nearly impossible for people not to compare you and your performance to the great performers who originated them.

Michael Bublé seems acutely aware of this fact and the range of his voice, and he uses the music and style of Sinatra, Nat King Cole and even more contemporary artists as a jumping off point for his own unique sound and style. While Bublé has a very strong voice he doesn’t have the same lower register / golden throat that gave Sinatra’s music those well-rounded, sweet lower tones. Bublé seems to acknowledge this and intelligently navigates his way thought the best-fitting Sinatra songs for his register, including “I’ve Got The World On A String” and “All of Me” which feature big high notes that Bublé can hit with ease. Read more…

Star Wars In Concert Review

October 15, 2009 8 comments

There are many different ways the Star Wars franchise could have presented on the road. I shudder to think of the rejected ideas: Star Wars The Musical, Star Wars on Ice, or maybe even Star Wars The 3D Experience. Of all the possible shows I am extremely pleased that they landed on Star Wars in Concert. Capturing the heart and soul of Star Wars, this two hour celebration is the equivalent of a legendary rock group reunion tour where all the best songs and moments are recaptured and relived.

A contemplative Yoda onscreen over the orchestra during Star Wars™: In Concert.

A contemplative Yoda onscreen over the orchestra during Star Wars™: In Concert.

Everything about Star Wars in Concert is done on an epic scale. An 86 piece orchestra is combined with a huge choir and backed by a 100-foot LED high-def screen, which is one of the largest, clearest high-def screens I’ve ever seen. The massive screen is surrounded by three other textured screens which envelope the entire back of the stage. This all is combined with a dizzying array of lighting and special effects which include full stadium lasers, smoke, huge fire and steam jets, providing some explosive exclamation points to the music.

The show opened appropriately enough with “Star Wars (Main Theme)”, the iconic piece which filled the Rose Garden with a palpable excitement. The crowd roared and cheered throughout the song. It was an amazing experience to hear a stadium full of people respond so enthusiastically to a piece of orchestral music. This is part of the magic of Star Wars in Concert, behind all the flash of all the staging, the real star of the evening was John Williams’s legendary score.

Yoda brandishes a light sabre onscreen over the orchestra during one of the musical segments of Star Wars™: In Concert.

Yoda brandishes a light sabre onscreen over the orchestra during one of the musical segments of Star Wars™: In Concert.

As the orchestra played, montages of clips from the Star Wars Saga were projected on the huge screens behind them. I’ve never seen these films look better; the crisp clarity, the deep color, even footage from the original series is literally jaw dropping. Seeing the films presented this way really accentuated the fact that the Star Wars Saga still isn’t available in Blu-Ray. I really hope that Lucasfilm will piggy back the excitement of this tour with a high-def release. The film montages combined clips from all six Star Wars movies (including original character concept drawings), often interspersing segments from the original series with the three prequels. The occasional clip had the sound from the film, usually featuring one of the many legendary quotes.

For the hardcore Star Wars fan I’m sad to report that the footage from the original Star Wars trilogy is the revised footage from the special edition releases (including things like the new approach to Mos Eisley Cantina). Also you’ll probably cringe when you see Han Solo and Greedo in their cantina duel and realize that Lucas is standing strong with Greedo now shooting first (for more on this see Han Shot First). But these minute details are easily forgiven, contexted in the absolute Star Wars love fest that is Star Wars in Concert.

Actor Anthony Daniels narrates a portion of the story from the films onstage during Star Wars™: In Concert.

Actor Anthony Daniels narrates a portion of the story from the films onstage during Star Wars™: In Concert.

After the theme song came to an end and the crowd finished their uproarious applause, Anthony Daniels (who played C3PO) was introduced. Daniels immediately began narrating the over-arching story of Star Wars, not as if it were some fairytale or fiction, but as if it were a real story with real people. Daniels was the perfect choice for this role, as his humor and enthusiasm provided the connecting point between the audience, the orchestra and the clips from the movie. While Daniels’s narration is infused with the occasional quip, it never droned on too long and was never cheesy.

STAR WARS: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back key art onscreen during Star Wars™: In Concert.

STAR WARS: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back key art onscreen during Star Wars™: In Concert.

STAR WARS: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back key art onscreen during Star Wars™: In Concert.

Each number of the evening was accompanied by a themed segment looking at each aspect of the Star Wars Saga including the story of Anakin and his transformation into Darth Vader, Pod Racing, Droids, Luke and Leia, Yoda, The Death Star, The Rebel Alliance triumph over the Empire, and Vader’s redemption. I really enjoyed how each segment focused on a specific aspect of the saga. Pulling some of these themes out of the context of the individual films enables them to be viewed from a new perspective. I especially enjoyed the segment on Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. It’s a really nice portrait of their relationship across the original trilogy films and seeing their relationship chronicled in this way really gave me a new appreciation for it. The biggest benefactors of this style of presentation are the three prequels. Divorced from some of their baggage they really shine. I found a real sense of fondness for the core story from the prequels, which was both a surprise and a delight.

C-3PO onscreen with lights and lasers during Star Wars™: In Concert.

C-3PO onscreen with lights and lasers during Star Wars™: In Concert.

With so much to experience on the gigantic high-def screen, it’s easy to overlook the phenomenal performance of the orchestra and conductor Dirk Brosse, who tackles the monstrous task of performing music so ingrained in the audience’s mind that even the slightest deviance would be noted. Brosse does an exceptional job conducting a pitch perfect orchestra with an extraordinary level of comfort and ease. Brosse was never showy and seemed dedicated to presenting the orchestration that really honored John Williams’s score. His work was a real partnership with the video segments and Daniels’s narration and the three elements worked in perfect harmony, a real credit to Brosse’s talent.

I really can’t imagine a better tribute to the Star Wars Saga than Star Wars in Concert. It’s an event which can be equally enjoyed by fans of the series both old and young. The fact that it can draw so many people to come together to celebrate and enjoy classical orchestral music is simply amazing. The Star Wars series and John Williams’s score both deserve to be celebrated and Star Wars in Concert is the most profound celebration possible. I highly recommend the Star Wars in Concert tour and hope that it will return to Portland again in the future, because I would absolutely go see it again.

Here is the formal Star Wars in Concert Set list:

Star Wars (Main Title)
Duel of the Fates
Anakin’s Theme
Moisture Farm
The Flag Parade
Across the Stars
Battle of the Heroes
The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)

INTERMISSION

The Asteroid Field
Princess Leia’s Theme
Tales of a Jedi Knight
Cantina Band
Yoda’s Theme
TIE Fighter Attack
Luke and Leia
The Forest Battle
Light of the Force
Throne Room/End titles

Encore: The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)

In addition to the main show, Star Wars in Concert features a number of costumes and models from the Star Wars Series.  If you go to the show be sure to allow extra time prior to enjoy these displays. They were swarmed by people at the Rose Garden and so picture taking was very difficult.

For more information about Star Wars in Concert:

Photos: Courtesy Lucasfilm LTD. © 2009 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM where indicated. All rights reserved. Used under authorization.

Miley Cyrus Wonder World Tour Concert Review

September 14, 2009 247 comments
Miley Cyrus Tour Portland Spectacle

Miley Cyrus Tour Portland Spectacle

If there was one thing that was made perfectly clear at the Miley Cyrus Wonder World Contert Tour debut in Portland, it’s that Hannah Montana is no more. Miley has clearly hit a turning point in her life and career where she’s stopped being a child actress performer and is starting to explore her blossoming adulthood. It’s that transition when a teenager slams their door and instead of hearing Avril Lavigne emanating from the room, you hear Led Zeppelin. This period of time is exciting, wonderful, awful, painful and confusing, which in many ways is captured in the immense spectacle that is Miley’s concert tour.

Changing costumes with almost every number, Miley seemed to be trying on dozens of different looks, perhaps to see which best reflected herself. Musically this frenetic change of styles was also apparent. The show bounced around from rock to pop to ballad and then into songs which seemed to blend all those styles into one. It’s entertaining to watch but you get the real sense that Miley isn’t quite sure who exactly she’s becoming.

Miley was very clear about who she isn’t. In the hour and a half set, Miley barely touched any of the songs which made her a success, only flirting with the Hannah Montana library with a very sexed-up version of Girls Night Out and a nice rendition of The Climb. She seemed to steer very far away from her signature Hannah Montana theme song, something I think really disappointed the rather young audience.

There’s no denying that the Miley Cyrus concert tour is a grand spectacle. Each song seemed to be accompanied by some sort of massive set piece and with ten dancers and constant and elaborate choreography; the show was a constant feast for the eyes. Miley Cyrus deserves a tremendous amount of credit for this accomplishment. The complexity of the staging and the sheer amount of choreography (not to mention the constant costume changes) would be a huge challenge even for the most seasoned of performers. Miley Cyrus tackles this aspect of her show masterfully and should be commended for it. Unfortunately, musically she didn’t match the grand spectacle. It’s not that Miley is a poor performer – when she hits the mark, she’s got a solid voice, great stage presence and wonderful connection with the audience. I just don’t think the bulk of her material is all that great. There are some real stand-outs among her work including her new hit Party in the USA, The Climb (the theme song from The Hannah Montana Movie) and When I Look at You (which is the theme from her upcoming 2010 film, The Last Song). The rest of the songs she performed never really break out and tended to fall a little on the dull side.

Miley Cyrus put to rest any question that she can rock, with a fantastic cover of Joan Jett And The Blackhearts ‘I Love Rock N’ Roll’ which she sang while riding a motor cycle that was lifted up over the audience and flown through the air. It was frustrating to hear that she does have the talent, even to rock, but not the real material to back that up. Another frustrating moment came during a transition between numbers where Miley and the dancers teased with a short bit of the Thriller dance; I would have loved to see her cover Michael Jackson, but the number was only a quick tease and Miley did not sing.

Throughout the 90 minute show, Miley changed her costumes a dizzying 10 times. Most of the costumes were skin tight and accentuated her breasts. This sexually forward side to Miley might have been a bit of a shock to the parents of the younger kids in the audience who came to see ‘Hannah Montana’. My daughter, who is 10, even commented on how much Miley showed off the fact that she’s got breasts (it was that noticeable). Despite this obvious display of her blossoming sexuality, Miley kept her show fairly tame. Rather than shock or put off her audience in some sort of rebellion, she simply declared her womanhood and burgeoning sexuality.

Miley Cyrus on Tour catches a young artist at a real intersection in her career. There seems to be a dynamic performer emerging from the bubblegum pop child star she once was. Hopefully after this tour she’ll be able to have some real time to work with a producer and song writers who can see her talent and bring out the best of it, because without a solid foundation of music under her, all the spectacle in the world won’t be enough to ignite her career and carry her beyond Hannah Montana.

For More info on Miley Cyrus Wonder World Tour:

American Idol 2009 Summer Tour – Portland Review

American Idols Live in Portland

American Idols Live in Portland

I had pretty realistic expectations going into the 2009 American Idols Live show on its first stop in Portland. Despite all the hype and hoopla, the reality is, these ten finalists are just at the beginnings of their careers. They’ve just crossed the threshold from semi-pro to the big leagues and this concert in Portland was their very first big arena show.

As a show I found it to be pretty choppy and extremely uneven. The staging was set up with a huge barrier between the audience and the performers. A stage which jetted out into the audience or a theater in the round set up, like they had with the Jonas Brothers, would have been a much better option. The evening was broken into two acts. The first one had performances from Michael Sarver, Megan Joy, Scott MacIntyre, Lil Rounds, Anoop Desai and Matt Giraud, followed by a group song featuring these six performers. The second act featured Allison Iraheta, Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert and Kris Allen, and then a finale song with all ten.

The only ‘coloring outside the lines’ came when Adam Lambert invited Allison Iraheta back up to do a duet of “Slowride”. Other than that, the evening was as programed as it could possibly get. Each Idol did grab the mic during their set for some banter but it was only Allison Iraheta who really connected with the audience. Others, like Danny Gokey, came off poorly and preachy. The show wasn’t about the Idols talking, it was about them singing, and for the most part each Idol represented pretty well.

Michael Sarver’s passion seemed to fill the gaps as he sang “I’m in Love with a Girl” by Gavin Degraw and “Closer” by Ne-Yo. He sported a white jacket with an enormous cross on it. His performance was fine and well within the line of an ‘opening act’.

Megan Joy came out with a much sexier look than we’ve seen for her, a bright pink dress and coiffed blond hair. Her rendition of Corrine Baily Rae’s “Put Your Records On” was pretty close to the performance she gave on the show. It didn’t win any new fans over, but it wasn’t bad. Unfortunately her rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Tears Dry on Their Own” didn’t come off as well and you could see why she’s been branded as one of the more ‘unlikeable’ Idols.

Of all the American Idols, Scott MacIntyre was the most improved from his performances on the show. He emerged from below the stage behind a grand piano. It was clear that behind the piano is Scott’s sweet spot. His rendition of Keane’s “Bend and Break” was sharp and he breathed new life into Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles”. I was disappointed that Scott only played two songs and would have liked to seen more from him.

Lil Rounds proved yet again that she can really sing, but something was missing from her performance. She opened with Mary J Blige’s “Be Without You” (a style she was constantly urged to sing during the show) but the audience didn’t seem to connect with it. Her rendition of Alicia Keys’s “No One” was solid, but sound alike and “Single Ladies” by Beyoncé had some great energy, but it seemed to fall apart at the end. Lil Rounds seemed mighty alone on that big stage and I think the show missed a huge opportunity to support her with some dancers. On “Single Ladies” she talked about working with a choreographer, but it ended up just being her strutting around the stage. If anything they could have brought the backup singers forward, or something so she didn’t seem so lost in the big space.

Anoop Desai was the first of the Idols to really connect with the crowd. A wave of flashbulbs fired off as he emerged from the center of the stage signing Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind”. Anoop was dressed in preppy/nerd chic and sported some thick rimmed glasses mid-way through the set. Anoop followed with “Mad” by Ne-Yo and then his signature “My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown. Musically Anoop isn’t the strongest of the Idols – Lil Rounds vocally eclipsed him – but Anoop has a charisma and style that fills the stage. He never looked alone up there and seems to have some of the raw goods to become a star. His set wasn’t earth shattering but it was extremely entertaining.

Matt Giraud seemed to have something to prove, and he did that with his set. With a big stardom presence he was the first Idol to really get the crowd on their feet with The Black Crows “Hard to Handle”. He then slowed it down a bit with Ray Charles’s “Georgia”, which came off fairly well, although I really didn’t like the arrangement. Surprisingly Giraurd closed with “I Found You” by The Fray, which is odd because during the show the judges specifically indicated that it wasn’t the best song for him, and I have to agree.

The medley that followed was okay. Throughout the season the group numbers were never the real strong points. This time around it felt a little choppy and Idol versus Idol. A highlight of the duet was dueling pianos with Scott MacIntyre and Matt Giraud singing Billy Joel’s “Tell Her About It”. In that match up I enjoyed Scott’s performance more. The weakest pairing of the medley was Megan and Lil who didn’t sound good together at all.

What followed was an excruciatingly long, energy-sucking 20 minute intermission where we sat and listened to ads and music videos of past American Idol winners. The break wouldn’t have been so misplaced if they had some sort of fun or creative intermission video clips playing (like a retrospective on the show). It was an opportunity missed.

The second half started with a bang and Allison Iraheta made up for the energy suck of the intermission. She opened with an extremely energetic rendition of Pink’s “So What”. Allison played a few of the refrains on her guitar, but not well. She is so energetic and fun and I think she would have done better without the guitar. Allison continued with Janis Joplin’s “Cry Baby” which was fantastic. As she let loose, she really showed a real comfort on the stage. At one point during “Cry Baby” she did really embody Joplin. It wasn’t a mimic or impression, but something much deeper. Her talk to the audience seemed to really connect and it showed a real presence and charisma. She closed her set with a fantastic performance of Heart’s “Barracuda”. I was disappointed that she only sang three songs. It was at this point I wished the show were the top 5 and not the top 10.

Of all the performances, I was most disappointed by Danny Gokey. I really like Gokey and enjoyed his performances on the show, but what worked on the small screen didn’t quite work as well on the big stage. Danny Gokey opened with Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T.” without any form of comment or tribute to the artist’s death. He followed on with Santana’s “Maria Maria” which had him dancing around seemingly having fun on stage, but it felt a little stiff and forced and he didn’t quite have the audience along with him. The highlight of his set was “What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts; it was the only point in the set where I felt any genuine passion. Danny Gokey followed the song with an ‘inspirational’, “you can do anything, don’t let adversity get in your way” talk. It just didn’t connect, so when he went into Rascal Flatts “My Wish” I felt like I was at a bad Christian Rock concert.

Gokey was immediately forgotten after Adam Lambert’s explosive opening. The crowd went crazy as he belted out Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”. A lot of the things that I felt didn’t work in Lambert’s performances on the small screen were the very things that made seeing him live in an arena so fantastic. His opening number was pure electricity and left absolutely no doubt that he’s a rock star. I was really shocked at just how amazing hearing Adam Lambert sing Zeppelin was. He followed with an extremely strong version of Muse’s “Starlight” and then slowed it down with “Mad World”. Although the live version of “Mad World” wasn’t as magical as on the show, it was still fantastic. He pulled the entire audience in with the song and showed how easily he could warp the tempo and tone on stage. Adam called Allison on stage and the two of them did Foghat’s “Slow Ride”. My son turned to me and said, “Isn’t that a song from Guitar Hero?!” (interesting how times have changed). Adam and Allison’s chemistry were fantastic and the song was spot on. Adam finished his set with a medley of David Bowie songs including “Life on Mars”, “Fame” and “Let’s Dance”. It was fun and playful, but I would have enjoyed more big rock like Queen or Kiss. Still, Lambert showed he’s the real deal and his performance was so strong, I’ll definitely make a point to see him when he returns on his own.

During Adam’s set it became pretty clear how limited the staging of the show was. “Whole Lotta Love” screamed for some sort of pyrotechnics and his melody of Bowie songs could have been a huge production number with dancers and effects. It was a huge opportunity lost and one of the most noticeable failings of the show as a whole.

Kris Allen emerged from the floor in the center of the stage to the screams of the fans. They dropped a curtain behind him and the rest of the band (an odd move) and he held silent with his acoustic guitar in hand, for just a little too long. What followed though was one of the highlights of the entire show. Allen performed Kanye West’s “Heartless” in a way that made it clear that he’s made it his own. The song sounded even better live and is the corner stone of Allen’s success. Kris Allen was pitch perfect with his performance of “No Boundaries”, which isn’t my favorite song, but Allen finds hooks in it to make it into something much more beautiful and strong than the source material. Allen’s emotion and connection to the audience peaked with “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. I think it’s Allen’s humble honesty in his performance that really wins the audience over. If Kris Allen came out with the ego of Matt Giraud I don’t think it would work nearly as well. Kris Allen went for the trifecta on Matchbox 20’s  “Bright Lights” singing, playing guitar and piano, a truly versatile performance. He closed his set with a fantastic performance of “Hey Jude”, with the other 9 Idols joining him for the end of the song.

The finale of the night was Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”, probably the best group effort I’ve seen. For one reason or another the song just ‘fits’ this group. There have been a lot of reports on how close the top 10 American Idol group is, but musically they really haven’t meshed well as a group, except for this song. It was a fantastic close to the show and a real highlight of the night.

As a complete show the 2009 American Idol’s Live Tour isn’t as strong as some of its parts. There are some serious shortcomings with how the show was staged. It was too formatted, overly programmed and lacking in some of the staging magic that could have transformed it into a much better show. The addition of a few dancers, some pyrotechnics and a little more stage pizazz would have gone a long way. I also think they could have dropped the twenty minute intermission in favor of a few more duets or sets which colored outside the lines. Also noticeably missing were any fun video clips or anything from the judges. It’s a clear opportunity missed not to have anything from any of the judges or even Ryan Seacrest on video saying “This is American Idol”.

Despite the production shortcomings the show was very enjoyable. Between Allison Iraheta’s energetic set, Adam Lambert’s jaw dropping Zeppelin and Kris Allen’s pitch perfect performance, there’s more than enough here to justifying seeing the show.

For more information about American Idol Live see:

Also be sure to read: Miley Cyrus Live in Concert – Tour Review

The Jonas Brothers in Portland – A Review

June 28, 2009 17 comments

I think it’s important to acknowledge that I am not in any way the target audience for the Jonas Brothers. In the sea of pre-teen girls and their mothers standing in line to get into the Rose Garden, I stuck out like a sore thumb. Committed to doing fun things with my daughter (despite my personal tastes in music), I had decided to take her to one of the most buzzed about concerts so far this year. I definitely felt out of place in an event dominated by debates over which Jonas Brother people think is ‘cuter’ (the consensus seems to be Joe).

The Crowd Waiting to See The Jonas BRothers

The Crowd Waiting to See The Jonas Brothers

As we waited for the show to start the stadium erupted in a deafening wave of screams any time anything Jonas Brothers related appeared on the overhead screens during the pre-show promotions. The Jonas Brothers seem to be able to instill that ‘boy crazy pre-teen frenzy’ that only a handful of boy bands can command. The sea of pre-teens waiting for the show carried fan signs, home-designed Jonas Brothers T-shirts, and were adorned by photos of the three Jonas Brothers.

As the lights dimmed the stadium was literally filled with screams (good thing I brought my Ear Love!). First to meet this adoring crowd was the relatively new Honor Society (watch the On Portland Interview with Honor Society), a band who described themselves as a ‘Myspace Band‘ (or a band that built its following initially from myspace). While Honor Society only played a handful of songs, the audience responded exceptionally well to them. The final song from Honor Society, ‘See U in The Dark’, was the clear favorite of their set. The song snapped and popped like a good pop anthem, noticeably elevated from the rest of their set and is sure to become a hit. I was surprised at how short the set was; I would have expected them to do another song or two especially considering how well they were received.

Following Honor Society was a unique all-girl band from South Korea called Wonder Girls. Dressed in 60’s chic (think The Supremes), Wonder Girls is an odd infusion of retro cool and bubble gum pop. I don’t think that the audience for the Jonas Brothers really knew what to make of them. Their first set, a single song, was so short it was hard to get a real sense of them (check out this video of their first set). Wonder Girls performed a second number after Jordin Sparks’s set and an introduction by Paul Jonas (the Jonas Brother’s father) called Nobody. The song itself was pretty catchy but the dance that went along with it could only be described as odd. It’ll be interesting to see if this Asian super group will find traction with American audiences. It could go either way.

Jordin Sparks, who I had seen a few years back, performed a much stronger set than the last time I saw her. Sparks had a much higher level of comfort on stage and seemed to connect well with the audience. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough of spark in her performance and even her signature single “No Air” didn’t have the punch that it should have. The highlight of Sparks’s set was a rendition of Pretty Young Thing (PYT) in tribute to Michael Jackson, which Sparks performed with more energy and spunk than the rest of her set. Sparks seems constantly on the brink of breaking out and I think a lot of the raw goods are there, but she seems to be lacking the right material to bring her to the next level.

Pop Rock

The stadium filled with lights and smoke as the main event launched like a rocket ship. With Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ blasting, Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas were raised from the depths of the center stage and spun around as if they were pop gods stuck in a doughnut display. The full stage configuration for the Jonas Brothers concert was impressive, presented as a ‘theater in the round’. The stage brought the performers much closer to the audience and gave far more fans a really good seat over traditional staging. The light, smoke and stage show was nothing short of impressive. With layered video screens, hundreds of different light configurations and an ever-revolving center stage, there was always something catching the eye.

Musically I can’t say I was amazingly won over by the Jonas Brothers. They are pure boy band pop through and through. The dynamic of the band is an interesting one. While many of the Jonas Brothers fans swoon over Joe Jonas, it’s actually Nick Jonas who seems to have inherited most of his father’s musical talent. Whether he’s playing guitar, piano or drums Nick seems to be the dominant musical force of the trio. Joe saunters around the stage to the admiring screams of fans, but if you really pay attention you can see it’s really Nick who’s carrying the lead. The third brother (sort of like the fifth Beattle), Kevin seems to be happy in his supporting role, rarely taking center stage. Kevin seems firmly rooted in his backup position. For whatever reason, that dynamic just works and the band comes off as an unashamedly pop boy band that is more ‘cute and swoon worthy’ than sexual (like Justin Timberlake). I also really appreciate that although the band comes from a strong religious background, they don’t bring that to their music.

While I may not have been completely won over by the Jonas Brothers’ music, I was quite impressed by their performance. A highlight for me was Nick Jonas’ rendition of “Black Keys” which was presented with him solo at a white piano in a cloud of smoke. After the song Nick spoke to the audience about his diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes and his commitment to push on in the face of adversity. The talk was an extremely skillful way of addressing a real serious issue (teenage suicide) and I thought that Nick Jonas did a phenomenal job of sending out an important message to his fans.

Impressive Jonas Brothers Staging

Impressive Jonas Brothers Staging

The set as a whole had its ups and downs as does their music. High points seemed to pivot around their break-out hits like “S.O.S” or “Burnin’ Up” and fall flat around some of their weaker songs. A complete misstep was the performance of “Sweet Caroline”, the notable Neil Diamond song. The band said they were doing the song for all the parents to get up and dance, but I think they’ve misjudged the age of their audience’s parents. They would have done much better with a stand out Michael Jackson song than Manilow, and I was actually surprised that their set was absent of a song to pay tribute to Michael Jackson.

At a high or low the stage spectacular always seemed to keep the show flowing. A late set return of Jordin Sparks was an unexpected treat. Surrounded by the full lights and video spectacular, Sparks belted out the title track to her new album “Battlefield”. The performances was legions beyond her opening set and showed the potential for Sparks when she has the right material. Also a particularly notable water effect was something I’d never seen at a concert before and was especially impressive.

I can’t say that I was won over at the end and became a fan of the Jonas Brothers. I am clearly not their target audience, but having said that I did enjoy their show. The Jonas Brothers have put together a pure spectacle of light and sound that is entertaining to watch. For me, though, the real enjoyment was watching my daughter as she jumped, sang and swooned. Equipped with the right ear plugs, the screams of the fans were manageable and the stage show was entertaining enough to make the evening more than worth it.

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