Jonas Brothers make up for lost time, and two canceled Milwaukee shows, at packed Fiserv Forum concert
It's been a trying decade to be a Jonas Brothers fan in Milwaukee.
Nick, Joe and Kevin were supposed to play the Marcus Amphitheater at Maier Festival Park Sept. 7, 2010 — but they canceled the gig.
"The Jonas Brothers remain committed to their fans and will look to return to Milwaukee as soon as possible," according to a statement at the time. "Soon" wouldn't happen for another three years — and then, three weeks before before they were set to play the Riverside Theater on Oct. 28, 2013, the Jonas Brothers canceled their tour and broke up due to a "deep rift" in the group.
On Tuesday, the reunited Jonas Brothers finally returned to Milwaukee. And judging by the deafening cheers after opening song "Rollercoaster" at Fiserv Forum — cheers that stretched uninterrupted for a good minute — there were no hard feelings.
Honestly, those fans, who filled the Milwaukee Bucks arena to capacity Tuesday, would have cheered a lot longer if a lighting cue ushering in the next song didn't interrupt them.
Throughout Tuesday's hour-and-40-minute show, there were several melodramatic clips showing the smoldering Jonases walking through magic portals and reverting to their childhood selves, before Jonas man and Jonas boy reunited toward the end.
It was an on-the-nose metaphor for most of the fans at Fiserv Forum.
The Jonas Brothers didn't have as many Top 10 singles as fellow boy bands New Kids on the Block, N'Sync, Backstreet Boys or One Direction. But there's no denying they were a pop culture force from 2007 to 2009, and their songs clearly meant a tremendous deal to those fans Tuesday.
They didn't just belt along to those top 10 hits "Burnin' Up" and "Tonight." They sang and screamed along for everything, from the cheerfully goofy "Year 3000" to early hit "Mandy" (part of a seven-song throwback medley from a secondary stage) to the heart-fluttering "Take a Breath," a fan request slowed down and performed on acoustic guitars by the three brothers, without support from the backing band.
But this isn't just a nostalgic tour, and the Jonas Brothers, in a sense, are bigger than ever. Their comeback album, this summer's "Happiness Begins," accomplished what mediocre early singles from that scrapped 2013 album "V" clearly weren't going to do: Make the band relevant for a broader pop audience. This year, only Taylor Swift and Post Malone have had bigger sales weeks.
Tuesday's show included a couple of side project songs that helped create the blueprint. Nick Jonas flexed his falsetto for his 2014 sleek slow-burner "Jealous," with Joe joining in on the second verse. That was followed by the sweet and snappy light funk of "Cake by the Ocean" by Joe's band DNCE, with Nick handling the opening guitar riff. (Kevin, strangely, wasn't on stage for those two songs.)
Nine out of 27 songs touched on Tuesday came from "Happiness Begins." Always a bit square, the Jonas Brothers aspired for hipness, and achieved it, with the smooth swagger of "Cool," and the Maroon 5-indebted "Sucker," their first No. 1 single, was naturally the big crowd-thrilling finale.
But the most striking new song in concert was "Hesitate," a ballad performed from a rotating secondary stage that lifted the brothers 15 feet in the air, as LED balloons flew above them.
"We're truly blessed that you guys hung on and stuck with us while we got our (expletive) together," Nick Jonas said at one point Tuesday. "We can't wait to come back."
Just make sure Milwaukee isn't waiting another decade for that to happen.
Bebe Rexha, Jordan McGraw open
Fun fact: Opener Bebe Rexha’s first solo show ever was in Milwaukee opening for Usher at Summerfest in 2014.
She’s come a long way since, presenting a slick opening set Tuesday stuffed with pop hits — from “The Monster,” which she co-wrote for Eminem and Rihanna, to her own monster hit “Meant to Be” — and making a strong case for arena headliner some day.
That said, a boisterous random fan nearly stole the show, after he was invited on stage to dance along for “Take Me Home”; the guy even slowed down his hip sways when the tempo suddenly dropped, without missing a beat.
“He’s living his best life,” Rexha said of the guy, although she seemed to be doing the same.
In between the first three songs of his opening set, pop newcomer Jordan McGraw boasted about having a song written by Joe Jonas, talked about hanging with Kevin Jonas backstage, and gave a shout-out to Sarah Hyland from “Modern Family.” The one name he didn’t drop in the early going was Dr. Phil — as in, his dad.
Those connections clearly helped McGraw get to where he is today, and he had a large, animated band backing him, including a guy who broke into some push-ups mid-song. But playing songs Tuesday that were instantly forgettable, or worse cloying (like set opener “Flexible”), it might be hard for McGraw to really make a name for himself.
And in addition to the Jonas Brothers, there was the Jonas brother-in-law: Mike Deleasa, brother of Kevin's wife Danielle, did DJ sets between the acts.
- The B-stage wasn’t just a stage Tuesday; it doubled as a bar for VIP ticket-holders. The brothers each took a shot of tequila back there close to the end of the show, with Joe getting a little miffed at his brothers for not clinking his glass. (He found some fans who were happy to oblige.)
- During “Cake by the Ocean,” about a half-dozen of those inflatable tube figures you see at used car dealers sprang up, and those wiggly buggers were smacking and covering nearby fans throughout the song.
- Nick Jonas briefly reminisced about making the “When You Look Me In The Eyes” music video in 2007 in Milwaukee (most of it was filmed at a show at the Rave, with some shots taken downtown).
The set list
4. "Only Human"
6. "That's Just The Way We Roll"
7. "Fly With Me"
8. "Used To Be"
10. "Take a Breath"
11. "Gotta Find You"
13. "Cake By The Ocean"
15. "When You Look Me In The Eyes"
16. "I Believe"
19. "Got Me Going Crazy"
20. "Play My Music"
21. "World War III"
22. "Hold On"
25. "Year 3000"
26. "Burnin' Up"
RELATED:The Jonas Brothers tweeted a video of a fan losing her mind at their Milwaukee show, and it's gone viral
RELATED:Ten top Milwaukee concerts to see for fall 2019, from Elton John to Farm Aid to the Jonas Brothers
Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook at facebook.com/PietLevyMJS.
Piet also talks concerts, local music and more on "TAP'd In" with Jordan Lee. Hear it at 8 a.m. Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9), or wherever you get your podcasts.