Walking into the Van Andel Arena, I felt exactly as I did when I saw the Jonas Brothers open for Miley Cyrus 12 years ago. While the crowd was transformed from grade-school girls to college students, the rest felt oddly familiar: 2009 tour t-shirts, eair-piercing screams, even some tears. The Jonas Brothers have become a symbol for the golden years of my youth, and the band has played into the nostalgia by revisiting the music that now serves as an artifact of our childhoods.
As the lights dimmed in the small arena, the screens on stage displayed a video of three young boys representing the young Kevin, Joe and Nick. The short imagined the boys wandering around a carnival scene, and after it ended the brother-band floated onto the stage while performing the song “Rollercoaster” off their new album, Happiness Begins.
The story of the three boys played a large role in the show, with short clips inserted in between songs. They included motifs from previous albums and resolved with a meeting between the boys and their older selves — the current Jonas Brothers.
The band primarily dedicated the first half of the show to their newer music, including popular songs like “Cool” and “Only Human.” Sprinkled throughout their repertoire of new music were some throwbacks as well, including their 2007 hit “S.O.S..”
While the majority of the show was played from the main stage, the band migrated to the back of the arena where they performed more of their older work, including a seven-song medley of some of their most popular songs. The show was made a unique experience with two song requests taken from fans and performances of two tunes from the Disney Channel movie “Camp Rock.” Among the other iconic songs were their love anthem “When You Look Me In The Eyes” and the classic sing-along “Burnin’ Up.”
The show itself was very fast-paced, with the Brothers jumping into one song after the next without much pause, keeping the energy high from start to finish. During a brief break, Kevin thanked the crowd for “giving us the time to figure it out” before the brothers performed the most sentimental song of the night: “Comeback.” The trio also gave a toast to the crowd, thanking their dedicated fans for supporting them back when they were just starting their careers and even thanked their fans’ parents for taking their kids to their earlier shows.
Unlike most reunions where bands try to rebrand themselves in a totally new way, the Jonas Brothers have embraced their past and transformed it into something relevant for both themselves and their fans today. While the band has gone from a group of teenage heartthrobs to a group of men with wives and kids, they still hold a special place in their fans’ hearts. The brothers are learning and growing alongside their fan base, and it’s this kind of relationship that makes the Jonas Brothers so successful in the music world today.