Thursday, November 06, 2014

LIVE FROM NEW YORK: Nick Jonas breaks from his group "Chains" (& Gets "Jealous" with Tinashe) in Brooklyn!

Paging Kevin Jonas. He's officially the only remaining Jonas Brother for me to see live in the past two weeks.

Last night, I headed to the Music Hall of Williamsburg -- which is quickly becoming one of my favorite venues -- to see the youngest (professional) Jonas Brother, Nick Jonas, assuage all my qualms that ditching the final JB record in favor of going solo was the right decision. Yes, I'll finally admit it.

Let's be real here. This is the third official time I've seen Nick perform live (if you don't count when I saw him on Broadway in How To Succeed... -- and he was fantastic there, too) and the prior two times, although admittedly were during the height of his fame with his brothers, were in considerably larger and less intimate venues. Nick could easily have chosen to showcase the material for his upcoming "debut" solo record (if you don't count Who I Am, the Nick Jonas & The Administration album that was out back in 2009) in more mid-size venues, at least in the New York metro area. The Beacon Theatre, maybe, or the Best Buy Theatre. 

Instead -- he chose three relatively small spaces in the Gramercy Theatre, the Music Hall of Williamsburg, and the Rough Trade (the former in Manhattan, latter two being in Brooklyn). This kept ticket prices quite low and allowed almost everyone in the room to have a great view of just how hunky he is (I'm saying, though!). But all three shows sold out in a matter of minutes, a real testament to the in-roads he made with his brothers.

Doors opened at 7PM, which wasn't too surprising giving the show was 16+ (that should have been a give away, Mel, that this show would be filled with young girls wearing crop tops in November and too much eyeliner shrieking "I LOVE YOU, NICKKKK" when they should be enjoying the music, but oh well). However, we didn't make our way inside till past 7:30 and Nick didn't take the stage til after 9:30. There was no opening act. I'm not sure what the point of just waiting around was. Shrug.

Given that Nick Jonas is slated for release this upcoming Tuesday, only about half of the songs had already been premiered. Nick and his band walked out to the tune of a canned version of the Beastie Boys' "No Sleep Til Brooklyn" (appropriate) before diving right in to "Wilderness" and "Numb" (sans Angel Haze). He wore black jeans, a long-sleeve (damnit!) white shirt and a leather jacket that was later discarded (to the soundtrack of teenage squeals) and a hat he wore backwards.

Nick Jonas & special guest Tinashe. (C)
The material he had to perform was truncated compared to how well known he already was. His set was augmented by one predictable Jonas Brothers tune -- inevitably "A Little Bit Longer", a song he'll no doubt be performing for the rest of his career, with or without his brothers -- and two Administration tunes in "Who I Am" (on acoustic guitar) and "Vesper's Goodbye". The latter featured a surprise interpolation of Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" (complete with crowd singalong).

In fact, covers were a common theme. He also belted out a falcetto-drenched version of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and -- my favorite of the night -- strummed out a minimal version of Prince's "I Would Die 4 U". (You can see a bit of the latter via my Instagram here.) A handful of young girls around me weren't familiar with the song (sigh) and one kept saying he (Nick) was "such a good writer!" and that she hoped it was on the album.

Of the album songs that were new to my ears, the obvious gut-wrencher is "Push", allegedly one of Nick's favorites, which he wrote when he was "feeling really vulnerable and not liking that feeling". I was also an immediate fan of "I Want You", which coincidentally enough was co-written by Erik Hassle and Taio Cruz. Overall, the album is truly shaping up to be a solid work from beginning to end.

Michael Jackson meets Pharrell-esque "Teacher" was a big highlight as it felt like a real funk party, complete with a choreographed bit with himself and his two backup singers (both of which were stellar). His backing band really was phenomenal and very tight.

He closed the night with the single, "Jealous", complete with a surprise addition of nu-R&B chanteuse and "2 On" hitmaker Tinashe (for those of you who are like me and assumed her name was pronounced "Tin-EH-SHUH", you're wrong. It's "Tin-AH-SHAY". Now you know.). Girlfriend is gorgeous in real life, it was a treat to see her live even if it was just for that one song.

The show was short and sweet -- just over an hour with no encore. But Nick played the majority of the upcoming record and sounded predictably just as good if not better than the recording. I've always said it; the kid is phenomenally talented and it's still jarring to me to internalize he's still only 22 years old and yet has so many commercially successful albums, soundtracks, and awards under his belt. Fun Fact: Nick's true first recorded release in his "solo" Christian indie album Nicholas Jonas is celebrating a ten year anniversary this year!

The material on Nick Jonas sounds very current and coupled with his strong voice and sex appeal, my fingers are crossed that it will do well. Whether or not its the real Nick Jonas, however, remains to be seen. This decidedly "urban" jaunt is clearly influenced by the success of Bruno Mars, Miguel, and Justin Timberlake. Given all the JoBros ardent love for Stevie Wonder and Prince, perhaps they would have been wiser to get on this train earlier than now rather than attempting to go the Springsteen route as Nick did with the Administration a few years back. Basically, I'm not hating this shift in sound to say the least -- I just hope it goes over better than the change in direction did for big brother Joe and from what I saw last night, it probably will.

Who else is picking up Nick Jonas on Tuesday?

1 comment:

John said...

Thanks for the recap. I am truly impressed with the lead up to this album, and you're spot on with the comparison to JT. That's clearly his mark, and with Justin leaning in the more retro direction last time out, there's a big gap for someone like Nick to fill with a more contemporary sound. I heard the Tinashe duet earlier this week, and glad to see it's actively being promoted. BTW, her album? Seriously good.

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