Boston's Alternative Source!

[Live & On Record]


In the glamorous world of teen pop, bigger has always been better. And it doesn’t get any bigger than ’N Sync’s current Pop Odyssey tour, which landed at Foxboro Stadium last week for two sold-out shows. Billed as the most elaborate concert spectacle in the history of pop music, it’s the latest in a long series of extravagant gestures by a group who could easily be resting on their laurels by now. Not Justin and the boys, though — along with stepping up the production, they’re also premiering a clutch of new songs from their forthcoming third disc, Celebrity (Jive). The big surprise at last Thursday’s show was that the group’s new music more than held its own against the colorful, mammoth stage show.

As far as I’m concerned, ’N Sync’s record-breaking No Strings Attached (Jive) remains a joyless dud a year after its release. But the new stuff sounded like a giant step forward, replacing the warmed-over R&B of old with a slicker electronic polish. The group’s much-hyped foray into the UK-bred two-step dance craze, “Up Against the Wall,” was a scream, as was the soft but jittery “Just the Two of Us.” They opened with the disco-fied kiss-off “Pop,” their new single and probably the most danceable self-reflexive take on stardom money can buy. The irony cut even deeper as the group pranced along the catwalk during “Celebrity” (“Would you be so kind to me/If I wasn’t a celebrity?”) while hysterical contest winners posed as paparazzi on the side of the stage.

As much as the music, though, it’s the frills and the boys that sell ’N Sync tickets, and neither disappointed. The group’s wacky sense of humor dominated, especially during a series of slapstick video segments like the faux Western that introduced “Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay).” A bit of a drag on record, the song came alive when the guys flew out across the audience from the top of the stage at the beginning and engaged in a crowd-pleasing display of synchronized bull riding at the end. The mega-mall theme continued on the showstopping “It’s Gonna Be Me,” which stretched out into a booty-bass dance party on a stage littered with an array of giant toys.

The unadvertised pair of top-notch openers, BBMAK and Dream, set the table with a bit of rock-and-roll flair. Ashley Dream sported a Guns N’ Roses T-shirt as she and her sisters did a cute, high-energy run through their recent teen-pop masterpiece It Was All a Dream (Bad Boy). BBMAK actually played guitars and went so far as to drag local hero Nuno Bettencourt on stage for their nightly cover of Extreme’s “More Than Words.” These opening sets almost made ’N Sync’s early-set first-album medley seem perfunctory, but the kings had no difficulty reclaiming their throne from there.


Issue Date: June 7 - 14, 2001