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The Greatest Show on Earth


By Hannah Talbot and Corey Potter

Hannah Montana

Times Union Center, Jan. 9

It doesn’t seem possible that a girl our age could be as popular as Miley Cyrus. In any school there are popular kids and some not-so-popular kids, but Miley Cyrus goes way past that middle-school level of popularity. The famous Disney Channel pop star Hannah Montana (who is also Miley Cyrus in real life), started her tour in October. This sprung the craze for tickets, the asking, the pleading, all together: “Can I go see Hannah Montana?” And for those who received tickets—and an exciting wait to see Miley live and tell all their friends about it—it was a dream come true! And those tickets to see Miley Cyrus were just what we received, but not only that—we got to see her opening act, the Jonas Brothers, too!

As we arrived in Albany, the traffic was jammed and we saw a slow-paced but steady stream of people all heading towards the Times Union Center. Our anticipation grew as we walked toward the entrance, and the closer we got to getting inside the arena, the clearer we could hear a voice on a microphone. It was a girl’s voice, and all around were screaming groups of girls and their mothers. We assumed it was Miley Cyrus and we were extremely excited. But, as we got closer we found it was just a raffle taking place outside the arena. You might think this ruined the moment, but it only boosted our excitement.

After we showed a man our tickets we found ourselves among a crowd of young Hannah Montana fans, girls rushing their mothers to get to their seats. Once we finished shuffling through the crowd and found our section, we started down the stairs toward the stage. We were amazed to see all the blinking Hannah Montana glow-sticks, the many cameras, and the oddly shaped stage. We settled into our front-row seats (!!!) with our two friends and we took about a thousand pictures, like many of the other fans. The show started with the Jonas Brothers making a grand appearance. They sang three of their most popular songs while constantly interacting with the audience. They pumped up the crowd, getting us all out of our seats by throwing clothing into the audience, and doing stunts—they were pretty much feeding their energy straight into our mouths. Can you imagine the sound of 10,000 screaming girls? We were all sad to see them go, but their leaving was the cue for Hannah to start her performance.

She entered the stage coming down from a platform unexpectedly. Everyone went crazy—kids and parents alike. It’s impossible to describe the amount of noise when Hannah made her entrance. There were fireworks, explosions, and sparkles flying in every direction. She had a large assortment of outfits, which she changed about every two songs, adding renewed energy to the crowd each time. The Jonas Brothers came out to sing with Hannah, and after the song she transformed into Miley Cyrus, as the Jonas Brothers performed their song “Year 3000.” When Miley came back out, she found her screaming fans still there, and performed her last song as herself. The song included more fireworks, sparklers, streamers, and ended with a burst of confetti, and Miley exiting though a mystery hole in the stage.

The show provided us with hours of jittery excitement, before, during, and after the show—hours full of screaming without getting in trouble. We were free from everything, just us, our friends, Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana, and the Jonas Brothers. For the next couple of days, though, we suffered the consequences of falling asleep in class and losing our voices, but seeing Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers was worth it—trust us!!

Hannah Talbot (14) and Corey Potter (13) are 8th graders at Monum ent Valley Middle School in Great Barrington, Mass.

A storied past: Howard Jones at the Egg.

PHOTO: Joe Putrock

Synthpop, Minus the Synth

Howard Jones

The Egg, Jan. 13

In his 1980s heyday, Howard Jones was as identified with the synthesizer as A Flock of Seagulls were with their hair. The prospect of hearing something as quintessentially synthy as “What Is Love” performed “acoustically”—as the show was advertised—was, um, curious.

As it turned out, this wasn’t an issue at all. Jones, on electric piano, accompanied by acoustic guitarist Robin Boult, thoroughly delighted a cozy Swyer Theatre crowd of real fans. And by “real fans,” I mean people who could sing along without missing a phrase. (As with Duran Duran at the Palace in 2006, the audience included one dude sporting an outstanding period hairstyle.)

It worked, too, because Jones’ songs have proven to be durable, from the opening “Pearl in the Shell” to the last encore, “Things Can Only Get Better.” Musically, he played some straight, like “Look Mama” and “Life in One Day.” Others were reinvented: “Don’t Always Look at the Rain” was given the jazz treatment, and interpolated a bit of Miles Davis. And his musicianship is solid, as was Boult’s guitar accompaniment.

The fans knew their Jones. The women sitting behind me, for example, added unprompted, angelic background voices to “Everlasting Love.” As the evening went on, and Jones actually invited folks to sing along, all his peeps joined in.

Much time was spent with Jones the charming raconteur, as he name-checked an eclectic array of musical notables, from Miles Copeland and Madonna to Midge Ure and Duncan Sheik, without going off point—much. He remembered previewing, live, what would become his biggest hit (“No One Is to Blame”) for the president of Elektra Records, and being told that, uh, maybe, it would make an OK “B” side. And then there was the time at Live Aid when he and his backup singers rehearsed backstage, a capella, for an audience of two: David Bowie and Pete Townshend.

This was one of those shows in which the performer fed off the enthusiasm of the crowd. Including the intermission, the performance was two and one-half hours long; Jones even squeezed in a couple more stories during the encore, which featured his coolest tune, “What Is Love” (it’s my fave, anyway), and “Things Can Only Get Better.” After pointing out the similarities between the latter song’s riff and the Spice Girls’ subsequent hit “Wannabe”—and acknowledging that it probably originated in some Motown hit—he primly wished the ladies great success on their reunion tour.

Always leave ’em laughing.

—Shawn Stone

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