Mid-2000’s nostalgia abounded on Thursday night for Jesse McCartney’s return to the Valley of the Sun. Joined by newcomer Whitney Woerz, McCartney’s visit brought out a fanbase that’s a little older, but no less enthusiastic.
Woerz opened the evening with a bubbly, infectious performance as the perfect warm-up for our headliner. Making the stage her dancefloor, Woerz invoked a Maggie Rogers-esque vibe, putting her heart into the set. The stage was littered with 50 glass jars, lit up like candles for a living room feel. Midway through, Woerz explained that each jar represented the 50,000 people who died by suicide in 2018, adding that her work with Bring Change to Mind aims to break the stigma around mental health issues faced by young people.
Her music is energetic and bouncy, and the young performer is clearly ready to turn a corner with her mature lyrics and sense of ease onstage. She utterly charmed the packed out venue, exiting her set to raucous cheers and applause.
Jesse McCartney hasn’t been seen on an Arizona stage in quite some time, but fans were more than ready for his return. Large video screens and an impressive lightshow blinded the front row for McCartney’s opening salvo as he bounded out to kick things off with “How Do You Sleep”. From the jump, the crowd knew every word to every song, some of which were released more than a decade ago.
McCartney is older now, but still a smooth singer and a decidedly goofy performer. Dressed in a floral sweatsuit, he walked and danced the length of The Van Buren’s stage, making faces at his fans as they screamed his lyrics back at him. “Leavin’” was up next, the driving dance beat keeping everyone moving.
The night was one big dance party. Now that the teen fans have grown up, the drinks were flowing and bodies were moving. McCartney obliged, running through “Punch Drunk Recreation”, old favorite “She’s No You” and the aptly-named “Shake”.
A brief interlude allowed his band to shine, their jam session allowing McCartney’s quick outfit change into a slick maroon suit for the acoustic portion of the evening. He mashed up “It’s Over”, “Anybody” and “Because You Live” for a perfect sing-a-long medley.
For The Resolution Tour, McCartney admitted his 2019 resolution is to complete his long-awaited new album, promising more new music this year. Despite the new music’s more adult themes, McCartney is still such a wholesome performer, making the fans feel noticed and appreciated. He even selected one lucky girl to join him onstage to be serenaded with “Told You So” (amid squeals and the chosen fan struggling to keep it together as she locked eyes with McCartney).
He closed his main set with “Right Where You Want Me” and a run of new singles, including the electronic-tinged “Wasted”.
McCartney couldn’t stay away though- the fans demanded one last piece of 2004 before the end of the night. Wheeling out a keyboard, he played a rendition of “Bleeding Love”, the Leona Lewis smash hit which was actually co-written by McCartney and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder. And, of course, no J-Mac concert could ever be complete without the hugely popular “Beautiful Soul” to round out an exceptional pop performance.
McCartney has aged into his music beautifully and his live performance has followed suit. It was a night of pure fun, leaving no fan disappointed with McCartney’s popstar comeback.
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel