Conventional wisdom would suggest that two songs in is kind of early to be firing confetti streamers at your fans. But Big Time Rush had no trouble maintaining momentum on Tuesday, July 17, as they entertained their largely female audience with a winning blend of big pop spectacle and the kind of boyish charm that's always played to Tiger Beat (orBop) subscribers.
It started with a giant clock that counted down the seconds to the big event while fans' texts streamed across the screens on each side of the stage at Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion in Phoenix. Then, when it got down to one minute before show time, the clock started counting down fractions of seconds to juice the adrenaline rush.
But instead of just storming the multi-tiered stage when the clock hit zero, the boys -- James Maslow, Kendall Schmidt, Carlos Pena Jr. and Logan Henderson -- made their first appearance on the big screen, as befits their status as stars of a hit Nickelodeon series. The action started with their handlers backstage searching for the boys, who as it turns out were still driving to the venue, not quite sure what they were doing. They finally made it to the venue, convinced a security guard that they looked like the guys on the CD cover for a reason and spent a lot of time running through hallways before they came across their dressing room, ran in and emerged two seconds later in their stage wear.
Cut to real life, where they made their first appearance on the stage to the pulsating house beat of "Elevate," their second album's title track, singing and dancing (both of which they did quite well) and being lifted high above the stage on a hydraulic platform, taking the title of the song a bit literally, as sparklers rained down from the ceiling. By the second song, "Time of Our Life," they were making the most of an onstage trampoline while the fans sang along to the lyrics that played across the screen in bright colors and patterns.
After "City Is Ours," the stage went black for a stark, dramatic "No Idea." Then, it was back to the brightness as the boys returned from their first costume change while the words to "Love Me Love Me" appeared in pop-art word balloons on the video monitors (which also showed the guys in silhouette on a hot pink backdrop).
For "If I Ruled the World," when Kendall hit the lyric, "If I ruled the world, I'd throw all the money in the air like confetti," a light shower of green rectangular confetti fell on cue. It was cute. Then the boys slid down the poles on the multi-tiered stage like firemen and made their way into the crowd for "Halfway There," one of their earliest signature songs.
They kept the energy going with "Invisible" and "Boyfriend," introduced Paul Stanley-style with "I want to know how many of you girls are lookin' for a boyfriend," then slowed things down with a tender acoustic-guitar-driven "Cover Girl," performed on stools. It was sweet. And they kept the stools on stage to bring four fans up from the audience and help them with the chorus hook of "Worldwide," which ended with video footage of fans performing "Worldwide" on YouTube (another nice, fan-friendly touch).
After another costume change, the boys came back in vests and jackets to sing two Beatles covers -- a perfectly passable a cappella rendition of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and a spirited "Help" -- while the screen behind them featured very "Help"-like footage from their movie, aptly titled "Big Time Movie."
Then, it was back to more electro-flavored dance-pop fare with "Show Me," "Music Sounds Better With U" and "Windows Down," a raucous highlight built on a sample of Blur's "Song 2" (the part that says "Woo-hoo," of course). "Windows Down" featured still more pyro and confetti. But they left room to ramp the pyro up a notch or two on the set-closing "Til I Forget About You." At one point, the guys all did actual flips on the trampoline, with pyro punctuating every landing. That was pretty entertaining. But an even better touch was how they left the stage, using a trampoline to bounce them off the back of the platform just above it in a mid-air flip.
One would assume there was a mattress on the other side.
They kept the encore brief -- their TV theme song "Big Time" with flames shooting out of the floor and dancing inflatables, ending as it had to, with a huge confetti shower.
Australian heartthrob Cody Simpson and Rachel Crow, a breakout star on Season 1 "The X Factor," opened the show. Simpson's show has gotten both bigger and better every time he's been through town, and Crow made the most of the pint-sized Aretha appeal that had a lot of people thinking she could win it all on "The X Factor."