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Concert Reviews:
Jonas Brothers hype new Disney film in the rain at DTE
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Did you know the Jonas Brothers have a new Disney Channel movie debuting on Friday (Sept. 3)? You certainly did if you were at the trio's concert Wednesday night (Sept. 1) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

Oh, it's pretty certain that the vast majority of the 14,000 who didn't let Wednesday's rain spoil their time with Nick, Joe and Kevin already had "Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam" on their calendars, and their DVRs programmed for good measure. But the Jonases and the rest of their on-the-road crew were all about stoking excitement for the film, both on stage and via video commercials between acts.

Wednesday's first half, in fact, was all about "Camp Rock 2," a theatrically staged 70-minute romp featuring co-star Demi Lovato and members of the film's cast who recreated most of its soundtrack -- as well as "We Rock" from 2008's original "Camp Rock" -- and indoctrinated the overwhelmingly adolescent-or-younger female crowd into the new movie's rivalry between Camp Rock (yay!) and Camp Star (booooo!). Lovato, clearly singing live even though her voice showed the wear-and-tear of the road, also dipped into her two solo albums for hits such as "Get Back," "La La Land," "Don't Forget" and "Remember December" but was also happy to be part of the ensemble during "Brand New Day," "We Can't Back Down" and "It's On."

The Jonases, meanwhile, balanced "Camp Rock 2" promotion with their own five-album body of work during their 85-minute set. The brothers only mentioned the film three times but did play a couple of their songs from the soundtrack, "Heart and Soul" and Nick's solo "Introducing Me," while Lovato joined ex-boyfriend Joe Jonas for palpably awkward duets on "This is Me" from "Camp Rock" and "Wouldn't Change a Thing" from the sequel.

The rest of the Jonas show was scaled down from the arena extravaganza the trio took out in 2009 but still incorporated plenty of video effects, pyrotechnics and lasers, as well as three ramps that jutted into the DTE pavilion to bring the brothers closer to the crowd. Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas' ex-girlfriend, didn't turn out even though she's filming in town, but youngest Jonas Frankie romped on stage with a tambourine for "L.A. Baby (Where Dreams Are Made Of)" from the brothers' Disney Channel series "Jonas L.A." Nick sang his solo hit "Who I Am," and he and his brothers populated the rest of the night wtih favorites such as "Hold On," "Year 3000," "Paranoid" and "Burnin' Up," along with a cover of the Beatles' "Drive My Car," which they performed at Paul McCartney's Gershwin Prize for Popular Music during June in Washington, D.C.

It certainly kept the crowd, wet and dry, excited and on its feet from start to finish, but the same exuberance was curiously missing from the stage. The Jonases -- who are separated from other so-called "boy bands" by their sheer musicianship and creative engagement in their work -- have previously been livewire performers, as hyper-energetic as their fans. Not so on Wednesday when, after a strong opening things seemed to wane. They looked tired (understandable given their output of the past year, much less the past six) or bored, with Nick seldom moving and Joe affecting a kind of disinterested cool -- even joking at one point that, "This is my 'I'm having fun' face" as he stared out, deadpan.

The show's pacing didn't help, either, with a decidedly laid-back finishing run of "Who I Am," "Fly With Me," "When You Look Me in the Eyes," an acoustic "Please Be Mine" (the first song they ever wrote together) and an understated "Lovebug," staged with dancers doing ballroom steps. The upbeat encore of "S.O.S." and "Burnin' Up" finished things with a bang -- literally -- but didn't entirely reclaim the night. But even in this case the Jonases sheer presence was still enough to carry the show, and the DTE fans surely filed out even more excited for "Camp Rock 2" than when they arrived.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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