’N Sync gives an ’Ncredible performance for Philly audiences

Linda Krebs

Imagine standing beneath the stage at the First Union Center in Philadelphia as Joey Fatone and Justin Timberlake, the latter sporting a hat made of balloons, casually stroll by. Then, P. Diddy and Busta Rhymes emerge fully decked out with their entourages leading the way. Sounds like a dream, huh? Believe it or not, this is exactly what I was privileged enough to experience last Thursday night at the ’N Sync Celebrity tour.

The lights dimmed, and the crowd went wild as a cloud of smoke began forming on the stage. Shrill screams from the fans echoed throughout the arena as the silhouettes of the famous five could be deciphered. The intensity heightened as Chris Kirkpatrick, J.C Chasez, Joey Fatone, Justin Timberlake and Lance Bass stepped out of the shadows into the light. Everyone sat in awe and prepared to witness a show-stopping “celebrity” performance.

Opening with “Do Your Thing,” the guys danced to the funky beat down the steps right passed me, as they made their way around a square-shaped stage surrounding the “pit.” With high energy, they sprung right into their number one old time hits “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me.” Adding to the spectacle, there were several eye-catching special effects produced by a pyrotechnic team.

Taking things down a notch, the group then sang the familiar ballads “For the Girl Who Has Everything” and “God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You.”

Since ’N Sync did not release a new album for this tour, many expected it to mirror the former, much larger Pop Odyssey stadium tour; however, it was far from it. Although not as high tech as usual, the stage was still fully equipped. In addition to this, bridges were suspended in midair connecting the main stage to a smaller platform in the middle of the arena, upon which the guys began to sing a tribute to some of their musical idols. Wearing tuxedo-like outfits, they brought back the sounds of the Beatles and The Temptations singing, “She Loves You,” “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” “My Girl,” “The Way You Do The Things You Do” and many more classics with which the audience could sing along with.

All the stunts, glitzy costumes, dancers, and props that ’N Sync has come to be known for were nowhere to be found that night. As Joey proudly proclaimed, “This tour is to get closer to you,” meaning the fans.

Making it a more intimate performance than ever before, they allowed the audience to see how they “play” together. Through a series of skits, they gave the audience an inside look at the chemistry that they have off stage, which allows the guys to be so “in sync” with each other on stage. Facetiously, Chris threatened the rest of the group by saying he thought it was a good idea to stage dive into the “pit.” To everyone’s surprise, that is exactly what he did–landing where I had been standing only a few, short moments before. In unison, the rest of the guys shouted “Bad Chris!” as they sent him to the rear of the stage.

Continuing with this pretend fight, J.C., Joey, Justin and Lance moved around the stage carrying their stools trying to avoid Chris. Facing the rear of the stage where the restricted view seating was, they taunted the rest of the crowd by saying it was time for us to see what those people had been looking at the entire night, “their butts!”

Moving along, they finally came together as a group in the center of the stage. J.C. decided that it was time to take us on a musical journey through the last seven years of their lives. However, this was not just any journey. Because of their love of New Orleans jazz, the guys compiled snippets of their hit songs forming a new song, demonstrating their wide range of vocal talents.

At the end of a rhythmic performance of “Gone,” Justin remained on the stage alone as renowned guitarist Ruben Ruiz magically ascended from a trap door on the stage. Together the two combined vocals and acoustics to create a new, amazing ending for this traditional ballad.

All in all, it is apparent that the members of ’N Sync are natural hams in front of an audience. Despite their “celebrity” status, they remain grounded because they are just kids playing in front of an audience.

They have an amazing ability to make the audience feel as though they share in their relationship, even if it is just for a few hours. Greatly appreciating their fans, the guys do everything that they can to “get close” to them; whether it is touching hands, taking pictures with children or actually becoming a part of the audience, a sincere effort is made on their part. With the tour ending in the guys’ hometown of Orlando, Fla. on Sunday, there are only a few more opportunities to experience this ’Ncredible performance.