DALLAS -- His nickname is "Mr. President," and on Saturday night Nick Jonas and his new band -- Nick Jonas & The Administration, but of course -- kicked off their inaugural tour at Dallas’ House of Blues, playing to a sold-out crowd of screaming girls, most of them clearly fans of the three Jonas Brothers, those multiplatinum, multimillionaire pop stars who, for the last year and a half, have called Westlake home.
The question du nuit was: Could one Jonas — the youngest, at that — pull off a show on his own?
Let me just say "Hail to the Chief," my friends.
About six months ago, the JoBros brought their latest tour to a crowd of almost 50,000 in Arlington’s Cowboys Stadium, treating them to a carnival of a show that included a water curtain on stage, 350 lighting units, multiple costume changes, a new posse of string and horn players and a trampoline for some signature flipping.
This concert stripped away all those extras, focusing on sound.
And what a sound. The first five songs of the 16 or so in the hour-and-a-half concert immediately showcased a more mature side of the 17-year-old phenom.
Who knew he had a fantastically limber voice that could move back and forth in a nanosecond between a growling bluesy sound and a Prince-like falsetto? We’ve heard Jonas say that his influences include Prince, Stevie Wonder and Elvis Costello, and they’re obvious in gritty, complex tunes like “State of Emergency,” “Olive and an Arrow” and “Last Time Around.”
Three of his band members for the tour — Michael Bland on drums, Tommy Barbarella on keyboards and Sonny Thompson on guitar — played with Prince’s New Power Generation, and they deliver rocking performances.
This was a smartly schizophrenic show. Only one single has been released from the band’s "Who I Am" record, slated for release Feb. 2. Jonas, who also writes much of the JoBros material, proves himself a song-writing force with 10 new songs for this tour, some of which he says he penned after the CD recording last April.
But he also wanted to give fans some material they could sing along to and included crowd-pleasing JoBros’ hits “Inseparable” and “Tonight,” as well as a “Black Keys/A Little Bit Longer” mix.
Covers of King of Leon’s “Use Somebody” and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” were strong, and Jonas showed a remarkable stage presence — and endearing vulnerability — when he forgot the lyrics to Owl City’s “Fireflies” and made up some silly substitutes.
One can only hope that Jonas’ side project attracts the broader audience it deserves.
Being a boy-band pop icon with a Disney TV show can have a bit of a polarizing effect. While the 8-year-old behind me who yelled “I love you, Nick!” every few minutes was cute, this Administration is worthy of some new-demographic support.