In the wake of registering 2001’s second-highest grossing tour of the year, behind only U2, the members of ‘N Sync pledged that this two-month spring tour would feature less of the big production and special effects usually seen at their concerts and would be more about “the music.” With that pronouncement came the real chance for the group to set itself apart from its lip-synching peers, but, alas, some things never change.
The real emphasis here, at the first of two Pond shows, as it always seems to be at these teen pop events, was the non-stop choreography that accompanies each and every number, save the ballads where the boys perch on stools. Of course, it isn’t possible to run around and execute complicated dance routines for 90 minutes and still sing note-perfect renditions of your platinum-plated hits, so the vocal tapes were in full effect and every song came out sounding just like the recorded versions.
The sound, though not very loud, was quite good, and the hit-filled set list moved along at a brisk pace that kept the kids on their feet throughout. Video screens above the stage showed close-up shots of the onstage action as well clips of the band members off stage.
Rapper Nelly drew loud cheers when he was seen and heard in the vid for “Girlfriend,” one of the hits from last year’s mega-selling “Celebrity” (Jive) album. Other notable entries included a blues version of 1998’s “I Want You Back,” during which Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez — arguably the two most talented members — traded lead vocals; the undeniable hook of “Bye Bye Bye,” and the “dirty” encore version of “Pop.”
Less enjoyable was the mid-set medley of songs by the Beatles (“She Loves You,” “Hey Jude,” etc.) and Temptations that the boys, dressed in matching black suits, delivered from atop a small stage that hung from the ceiling. Worse yet was their extra-syrupy “remix” version of the Christopher Cross fantasy ballad “Sailing.”