This is a hard thing for a guy to admit in public, but I believe in an honest review: I saw *NSYNC again, and this time I kind of liked it. Instead of being in a catatonic, over-stimulated daze, I rather enjoyed myself. Mind you, it wasn’t me who changed. It was the show. And having front row seats probably helped, too.
I have never sat in the front row at any concert in my life. It always seemed so expensive and exuberant, but somehow money seems to be no object in my house when *NSYNC is involved. So while the wife was sitting three rows behind me and a bit off to the side, I was practically bumping into Justin, Lance, J.C. et al as they ran, danced and sang just a few feet away. My seats were next to lots of girls in skimpy clothes who jumped up and down, and would then would give me dirty looks, as if a straight guy who was only moderately interested in the band was killing their buzz. Whatever.
The show was much better than the summer tour. First of all, there was only one opening act, Ludacris. And better yet, we showed up to the arena about 15 minutes after he stopped playing. So we sat down, waited about 10 minutes and the show started. This was a vast improvement over the 20 crappy upstart popstars I had to sit through during the Pop Odyssey show.
Best of all, though, there were no dancers, bad skits, large toys, mechanical bulls, monk robes or retarded super villains. It was a low impact, no bullshit show. Which is to say it had pyrotechnics, a video screen and a big catwalk that lowered down from the ceiling, but that was it. Everything else was singing and dancing. Which is as it should be with a poppin’ fresh boy band.
They started off the show with “Do Your Thing,” then went into a couple numbers from No Strings Attached. I was particularly impressed that the second song they performed was “Bye Bye Bye” because I thought for sure that they would be closing concerts with that song for the next 30 years. “No no, sit down, there will be an encore. They haven’t played ‘Bye Bye Bye’ yet.” Good old “Bye Bye Bye”. They also belted out a rousing rendition of “Up Against the Wall” which made me wonder why it isn’t on the radio yet.
Somewhere in the middle they ran through a few cover songs, including some Beatles stuff, while jumping around on the catwalk above the crowd. This was all okay, but seemed a bit like filler to me. I mean, they seemed to be having a good time and the crowd seemed to enjoy it, but it felt a bit like oldies hour to me. The last cover, though, was a pretty cool two-step version of “Sailing” that might actually have been the highlight of the show for me. Mostly because of the way their drummer lifted the beat from Paul Simon’s “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover” (played originally by the legendary drummer Steve Gadd) and laid it down on this funky Christopher Cross remix. I couldn’t believe it worked so well, so kudos to *NSYNC’s drummer.
Later in the concert they had what I’ve been told is unscripted witty dialogue amongst themselves. Even though on the play list it probably said “Unscripted witty dialogue. BE FUNNY” It was much better than the canned crap they have pushed on audiences in the past. I mean, would the Grateful Dead insult their loyal fans with the same bad jokes every show? I think not. Maybe *NSYNC finally realized that people like my wife see them a hundred times a year.
So by and by they got around to playing their final songs without having much of a fake encore at all, which I really appreciated. During this they all made the rounds along the catwalk where I was standing and a lot of girls were squealing and holding their hands out to be touched. While I could have had Direct *NSYNC Contact by just extending my arm, I didn’t really want to and just stood there looking around, feeling only mildly conflicted. I was told afterwards, however, that Lance checked me out while he was making the rounds, which I’m sorry to say I missed.
All in all a good show that you just can’t dismiss for being a confusing piece of crap like last summer. Good for them.