“10 years ago, we were in this room but I honestly thought we’d never be back,” Kevin Jonas tells the audience halfway through the Jonas Brothers’ Happiness Begins Tour. “Thank you for believing in us. London, we love you.”
It’s a nostalgic evening at the SSE Wembley Area, with the venue filled with 20-something girls and their mothers rather than tweens or kids – the people who grew up watching the brothers in Camp Rock and their Disney Channel show JONAS. Concert goers sport t-shirts that read “I survived the Jonas Brothers breakup 2013-2019” as well as old merch from previous shows. There was a time when fans never thought the brothers would perform together again after Nick broke up the band on a fateful day in 2013, but six years later, they’re back and stronger than ever.
As the music quiets and the lights go down, a video montage of actors portraying younger versions of the brothers plays on screen. The blood-curdling screams start, with concert-goers shrieking and fangirling. Kevin, Joe and Nick float down from the ceiling on a platform with sparklers and fireworks going off behind the stage, singing “It was fun when we were young and now we’re older,” in unison during their first song, ‘Rollercoaster’ from 2019’s Happiness Begins.
After a dramatic and gimmicky entrance, the brothers land on stage and bring the nostalgia by performing their 2007 hit, ‘S.O.S.’ The crowd fangirls again, unable to hold in their excitement.
The brothers are more grown-up now, but they’re still the loveable and charming siblings who got their start on Disney Channel. A few things have changed, but some stayed the same. Joe didn’t fall on stage, but still carries around the mic stand, while their purity rings were replaced with wedding rings. They’ve matured, but haven’t quite broken from the Disney cookie-cutter mould in terms of performance – by relying on video montages and fireworks. Despite playing some tracks from their latest album, they focused on playing their hits from the noughties – a smart move on their part. As the brothers walk through the crowd to the second stage located in the back, they have a surprise for the crowd. “It’s our second show and we’d like to do something special for you,” they explain before taking fan requests and performing ‘Goodnight and Goodbye’ as suggested.
On the smaller stage, the brothers start performing their singles. Joe reprises his role of Shane Gray from Camp Rock to sing ‘Gotta Find You,’ and then Nick has his time in the spotlight when he sings his 2014 hit ‘Jealous’ (with help from Joe) from his solo album Nick Jonas. The first act finishes with Joe pumping up the crowd with ‘Cake by the Ocean’ from his time in the rock band DNCE.
The second act starts slow, with back to back ballads of ‘Comeback,’ ‘When You Look Me In The Eyes,’ and ‘I Believe.’ Then the brothers ask a controversial question: “Who here is the biggest Jonas Brothers fan?” Over half the audience raises their hands and shrieks. “Who here has been a fan the longest?” they ask before moving into a mash-up of ‘Mandy / Paranoid / Got Me Going Crazy / Play My Music / World War III / Hold On / Tonight.’ It’s got fans moving again, jumping up and down and shouting along without a care in the world. The set finishes strong with a cover of Busted’s ‘Year 3000,’ the song that got the brothers famous.
The screaming begins as the brothers leave the stage, begging for an encore. The stage turns a reddish hue and there’s fire – it’s time for ‘Burnin’ Up.’ Nick doesn’t hit his iconic “red dress” note and instead points the mic towards the audience, who shout every word of the song. Then it’s time for the last song, 2019’s ‘Sucker.’ Fans dance and sing along for one last time, taking in every moment just in case this is the last time they get to see the brothers perform again.
After a strong hour and a half set, fans leave grinning, pumped with adrenaline and discussing the show.It might not be 2008 anymore, but happiness still does truly does begin with the Jonas Brothers.
Words by Caroline Edwards, photo by Alexia Arrizabalaga