Photographs by Katrina Wong Shue.
Nick Jonas is just another name in the cannon of male pop stars who’ve sought success outside the trappings of their boy band beginnings. The delightful youngest Jonas brother has moved beyond his teen pop days but his status, as a bona-fide front man needs some work.
There’s little question that Jonas has segued into life post Jonas brothers rather well. A sex symbol – for women and gay men everywhere – and a respectable actor, see DirectTV’s Kingdom and Fox’s Scream Queens. A star moving beyond his days as part of the Disney trio the Jonas Brothers with ease. Recent performances including an opening slot on the – now cancelled – Canadian leg of Kelly Clarkson’s Piece By Piece Tour and Saturday night’s headline gig in Toronto, have been a testing ground for Nick as a frontman.
Though Nick Jonas’ beefed up physique (hard to miss under his basic white tee), last year’s sexy self-titled R&B-pop album – a page out of Justin Timberlake’s playbook – have helped him shed his squeaky clean Disney image, he’s not quite there yet.
The wall-to-wall audience screamed and squealed louder for mundane movements, cue Nick removing his jacket. Bigger tracks like “Numb” and “Jealous” offered a more engaging Jonas, though they lacked the spark of their remixed cousins featuring Angel Haze and Tinashe, respectively.
Whether strapped to a guitar through half of his set, though more than just an affectation, or favoring his falsetto range, it felt forced. Jonas’ band acted merely as stage props, including a female guitarist and bassist, both of whom felt like edgy Robert Palmer left-overs. A crowded stage diminished Jonas’ presence and much like the background video display distracted from where perhaps more of Jonas’ persona and even a bit of ego should have been.
Jonas’ talent is undeniable, perhaps shining most when collaborating with the aforementioned artists, or as part of his former brotherly trio where eyes aren’t sole on him. Unleashing all he’s suppressed sexual energy in song, a new physique and in numerous photo spreads hasn’t translated to the stage. Jonas has followed the heartthrob-to-credible artist blueprint but hasn’t found comfort in his new role as leading man. Perhaps he lacks the ego or unwavering confidence that it takes to move from mid-level pop star to superstar.