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Concert Reviews:
Solo Jonas Still Gets 'Em Screaming
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

DETROIT -- It had all the usual trappings of a Jonas Brothers concerts -- the signs, the non-stop camera flashes, the deafening screams, the alarmingly shaking balcony at the Fox Theatre.

But this time it was all for just one Jonas.

Nick Jonas, the youngest of the sibling pop trio at 17 -- who also had a recording career before that group started -- brought his new band, the Administration, to town on Saturday (Jan. 16) and received the same maniacal reception he's grown used to with his brothers. (Don't worry, fans; the Jonases will be back later this year, on stage, TV ("J.O.N.A.S.") and in the movies ("Camp Rock 2").) And while the 100-minute show wasn't a complete departure from what he does in the group, Jonas and company did strike out in a few new directions, showing a markedly funkier and stripped-down edge that proved a natural fit.

Confidently fronting the Administration -- a potent troupe that includes well-credentialed producer John Fields on bass and two members of Prince's New Power Generation band -- Jonas smartly touched on a few Jonas Brothers moments, including an early set rendition of "Inseparable" and a solo piano couplet of "Black Keys" and "A Little Bit Longer." But he was clearly most interested in showcasing his upcoming album, "Who I Am" (out Feb. 2), playing all 10 tracks plus a couple more that aren't on the album -- including "Stay," a torchy soul song he told the sold-out Fox he'd written just a week prior.

Those performances certainly heightened anticipation for the album -- as if Jonas needs it. The show-opening "Last Time Around" and the balladic "Vespers Goodbye" would not sound out of place on one of the brothers' albums, but tougher grooves drove "State of Emergency" and "Conspiracy Theory," "Olive and an Arrow," whose call-and-response coda evoked Prince's "Purple Rain," explored a bluesy direction, and the textures of "Rose Garden" and a recast arrangement of the JoBros' "Tonight" were more subtle and moody. "Stronger," meanwhile sported a muscular, classic rock kind of chug.

Aware that he's pushing his pop parameters, at least a bit, with the new material, Jonas also tossed in some covers to illustrate his roots and tastes. A medley of Owl City's "Fireflies," Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" and the Jonas Brothers' "Lovebug" and "Can't Have You" -- performed mostly solo acoustic by Jonas -- was a crowd-pleasing singalong, while a pair of Motown classics, Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" and Rare Earth's "I Just Want to Celebrate" (which he said was brother Joe's "favorite song of all time") were delivered with kinetic passion.

Early on in the show Jonas had promised his fans "a night to remember," the kind of hyperbole that's standard for any artist. But by the time he and the Administration brought things to a close with "Who I Am's" title track, it was clear anyone there will indeed remember being at the start of what's likely to be a fruitful new chapter in his already accomplished career.



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