Over The Weekend: Nick Jonas & The Administration at the House of Blues

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Nick Jonas & The Administration, Diane Birch
House of Blues
January 2, 2010

Better than: covering a Jonas Brothers show.

The smell of hundreds of competing perfumes and shrill shrieks, squeals and screams of the "sold-out" crowd were enough to make one's head spin even before the 17-year-old international pop-rock star walked out of the curtains and into the spotlight at House of Blues Saturday night.

Nick Jonas, the youngest member of The Jonas Brothers, was all set to deliver his first solo, full-concert debut with The Administration, his new backing band that's, well, not a couple of his brothers.

But those early screamin' teen's howls of glee were nothing compared to the ear-splitting minute-long explosion of sound that erupted the second Nick Jonas finally swaggered into the light and up to the mic stand.

As he stood at centerstage, all the cries of "NICK!!!" "I LOVE YOU!!"  "AAAAAAAHH!!" and "I LOOOVE YOU NICK!!!" merged together to form a deafening wave of sound that made it all but impossible to hear the first few chords from Jonas' guitar as he played solo before being joined by The Administration for show opener "Rose Garden."

(Yeah, apparently he has a POTUS-fixation.) 

Jonas' riff was catchy. It was bluesy, and a little funky. And, gulp, I didn't hate it. And, when the band kicked in at about the song's two-minute mark, it was clear that this was not gonna be a Jonas Brothers show. Score one for the dads, boyfriends and other chaperones back by the rear bar, which, thanks to the under-age crowd, never had a line.

So, yeah, score another one for the chaperones.

Honestly, if the fansites hadn't informed me that Nick was only 17, I never would have believed it. Well, based on the musical portions of the night alone. His mid-song banter was a dead giveaway, like when he assures the crowd that  "Love is never predetermined," or when he tells the crowd "It's all of you; it's every one of you," that keeps him "going."

But it's that kind of teen hearthrob bullshit that makes the world go round, right?

"You know that I love you," he told the audience while softly tickling the keys of a piano. "And it's very clear to me that Jonas fans are a force to be reckoned with."

And so, it seems, is Jonas, because he clearly owned that crowd. And, when he was performing, he didn't come across like a teenager. Maybe the rather grownup stage set-up helped, what with all the Persian rugs and pillar candles to match the impressive array of effects pedals, instruments and guitar racks. But, more likely, it was because Jonas was surrounded by veteran musicians like Tommy Barbarella on keyboards, Michael Bland on drums and Sonny Thompson on guitar--all of whom were original members of Prince's backing band The New Power Generation. (So, yeah, they're pretty tight.) In fact, the only member of The Administration that wasn't in NPG is bassist and JoBro-producer, John Fields.

Together with The Administration, Jonas executed what was obviously a well-planned and well-rehearsed performance. Musically, it's hard to find much fault in the delivery. Though there were some "off" moments, like some vocal notes and piano keys that landed awry here and there.

And the show's covers were definitely a low-point of the night (and only served to remind of Jonas' Disney launch pad), like when the band launched into Rare Earth's "I Just Want To Celebrate." And there was also a medley that included Owl City's "Fireflies" and Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" (two songs from 2009 that Nick said he "really liked"), as well as Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours."

Did the overall performance make me, or the dads and boyfriends near the back bar, swoon? No.

But it was better than a whole mess of concerts that a teen or tween might drag you to.

So, score three for the chaperones.

The real question, of course, is whether the performance left mini-vans and SUVs full of teenage girls swoonin', screamin' and proposin' marriage to Nick Jonas (and hungry get their hands on a copy of The Administration's Who I Am when it's released on February 2).

The answer?


Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
To put it mildly, covering this show had me out of my element. Honestly, until last week, I hadn't heard Nick Jonas' single "Who I Am," nor could I have distinguished him from a line up of silky brown-haired Jonas Brothers look-a-likes.

Random Note: I knew I was in for a special night when the sidewalk outside the entrance gate, near the valet parking podium, was littered with the abandoned sleeping bags, blankets and even a tent left behind by rabid fans who had been camping out in anticipation. The place looked like, as one HOB employee joked under his breath, an evacuated teenage "homeless people city" littered with half-empty bottles of Diet Coke, the remnants of fast food meals deals and a perfectly good-lookin pair of headphones. 

By The Way: Diane Birch made for a great soulful opener for Jonas. The interesting thing about Birch's performance was that it was her mid-song banter, and stories about her songs, more than the songs themselves, that seemed to draw an energetic and positive reaction from the crowd. Weird.

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