The Jonas Brothers begin their Happiness Begins tour with a video where they meet their childhood selves. The brothers are each brought back to a time of innocence before the fame and the drama. It is a true reconciliation between who they were back then and who they are now.
This return is the central theme of this comeback tour, combining old hits and new bops. Just across the river from their hometown of Ridgewood, NJ, this was both a literal and spiritual homecoming: they returned to their roots and to sold out shows at the greatest stadiums in the world.
After a messy fight between the brothers that led to the band’s split six years ago, they came back together to produce a nostalgic and magical reunion.
The first song, “Rollercoaster” comes off the new album and reflects on the band’s rise and fall:
“It was fun when we were young and now we’re older
Those days that are the worst, they seem to glow now
We were up-and-down and barely made it over
But I’d go back and ride that roller coaster with you.”
They take the mood from “Rollercoaster” and completely shift to their iconic bop “S.O.S.,” which set the night off as high-energy.
The Jonas Brothers let the fans make suggestions for songs in the middle of the show, keenly aware that it is only from the power of those once-teenage girls that they were ever able to make a career for themselves. Almost in every city “Gotta Find You” from their 2008 hit movie Camp Rock is selected.
It is that self-awareness of their roots and the nostalgia for a simpler past that has propelled the group to a second wind of success.
The Jonas Brothers know aspects of their teen idol-dom are funny and representative of the era they came out of. They hilariously decided to revamp some of their old merch as a result. So if you ever wanted an “I am SO crushing on the Jonas Brothers” t-shirt which is so ridiculously 2009 it hurts, it’s yours for the sweet, sweet price of $50.
The chemistry between the brothers, Joe and Kevin especially, has gotten increasingly better over the years. The time away from the stage have allowed them to create images for themselves instead of being a collective group.
Joe has become a natural frontman. He’s sexy, funny, talented, and demands the attention of the audience. Long gone is the boy with flat-ironed long hair, he is now tatted, sarcastic, and undeniably charming.
Kevin is so blatantly self-aware that he has become more beloved now than he was 10 years ago. His brothers had solo careers after the band broke up, but he took a step back from the limelight, choosing to involve himself in tech startups. At Madison Square Garden, there was no one happier to be back on the stage than Kevin Jonas, who now has a new older brother confidence. Kevin Jonas does not care that you like him least. In the end, he got the last laugh because he is doing exactly what he wants to be doing: creating music with his brothers.
Out of any of the brothers, it is evident that Nick is still fighting against his boy band roots. He lacks the charisma of Joe and the humor of Kevin. He is the youngest, and yet he is the most serious. It is easy to see how he was the one to break up the band.
The band, however, does not shy away from their breakup during the show. They reference their time apart and let you know how necessary it was for them to make it back to MSG. They have even incorporated the products of that period into the show; Joe and Nick perform duets of “Jealous” and the DNCE (Joe’s other band) song “Cake By the Ocean.”
It is not easy for a boy band to come back, especially as adults who proudly tout their happy marriages. What is the most interesting about the Jonas Brothers’ return is the increase in respect they have received from the music community. They are no longer seen as the same Disney boy band they were back then. “Sucker,” the song that launched their comeback was No. 1 on Rolling Stone’s top 100 and sat within the top 100 for 26 weeks, has launched the term “Jonas Brothers” back into the vernacular.
The encore begins with their 2008 hit, “Burnin’ Up” and the entire crowd erupts into screams. This rendition lacks the rap solo by their former bodyguard Big Rob, but it doesn’t matter: every word was shrieked right at the band. “Sucker” finished up the set, with the audience clapping out every beat was reminiscent of OG hit “That’s Just the Way We Roll,” a melding between past and present. The Jonas Brothers were able to get just as much excitement for their new music as their old hits, which few boy bands have been able to do.
Towards the end of the concert, Joe jokes, “One thing that’s different at a Jonas Brothers show from back then is that y’all are drinking with us.” That’s the strange thing about this revival and boy band reunions. The last time the band played Madison Square Garden in 2008, none of the brothers could legally drink; Nick could not even drive yet. A Little Bit Longer would come out the next day, and Joe and Nick had not yet been in the news for their messy breakups with Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus, respectively. This was less than two months after Disney released Camp Rock and before they were given a television show. This was before the wives, kids, and the band’s split. However, just like last time, they are the hottest band in the world.
Even after the setlist concluded, concertgoers were shot back to 2008 as they exited Madison Square Garden. Girls were wearing the same Jonas Brothers t-shirts with the same funny “We love Frankie Jonas” signs.
The Jonas Brothers didn’t take you on a trip to the Year 3000, but they did send you back to 2008. Their concert managed to transform the world back a decade to a time with hope for a new president and when things were inherently simpler for the vast majority of their fans.
The Happiness Begins tour brought back a sense of nostalgia and childhood happiness but let you know that at least for the Jonas Brothers, things have changed for the better.