Two years ago, Hersheypark Stadium was packed with screaming girls. The subject of their affection: Kevin, Joe, and Nick, the Jonas Brothers. The noise did not let up the entire evening. It’s a wonder anyone got any sleep that night – that includes the parents who went along and wound up with ringing ears.
Today – well, Saturday night – were the Brothers still big, even in the wake of teen heartthrob scene-stealers like Justin Bieber? Was the stadium still packed? Did the girls still shriek?
Yes, but it was not as packed. And yes, but they didn’t scream as loud – the volume was much, much more subdued. But the Brothers are still big among true fans.
“I don’t think they are [as popular], at least for our age group,” said Christina Walker, 16, of Mechanicsburg, there with pal Britney Wolf, also 16, of Mechanicsburg, for their third show. “Not a lot of our friends like them.”
And that’s a shame, because the trio was far better than they were two years ago.
“When they were younger, they used to think more was better in their shows,” said my 9-year-old daughter Brenna, who saw both shows. “But now there’s less stuff and it made the music better, because they’re not focusing on other stuff – they’re just singing their music.”
Yup, that was exactly it – the Jonases have matured into a lean musical unit that doesn’t need spectacle to get by anymore. They’re better vocally and sonically, more muscular and tight, and less stuffy and stiff on stage. And if fewer fans are there to witness the change, it’s their loss.
The Brothers performed songs from their three albums, plus tracks from their Disney Channel movie “Camp Rock” and its soon-to-be-aired sequel, “Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam,” along with music from their Disney Channel TV show “Jonas LA.” It was an effective mix, from older tracks like “Hold On” and “Year 3000” (Brenna’s favorite) to the “Camp Rock” track “Play My Music” to a blistering “Heart and Soul.”
All were in fine harmony, both with one another and with opener Demi Lovato, who came on to sing with ex-boyfriend Joe Jonas for “This Is Me” and “Wouldn’t Change a Thing.” It could have been an awkward moment, but they both handled it well, belting the songs with authority.
The new track “L.A. Baby” segued into a nicely-handled cover of The Beatles’ “Drive My Car,” a tightly tense “Paranoid,” and Nick’s hit from his solo album, the beautifully understated “Who I Am.” He followed that with “A Little Bit Longer,” accompanying himself on piano, and Joe and Kevin joined him for a soaring “Fly With Me” and a fine turn on “When You Look Me In the Eyes.”