Sunday, August 13, 2000

Concert review: 98

A day later, 98 show doesn't come up short

By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati teen-pop sensations 98 gave their young fans a taste of their new sound Thursday night, as well as a lesson in how tedious TV production can be.

        On an elaborate stage in the parking lot above the Waterfront in Covington, the teen idols capped their homecoming week with a dynamic show featuring songs from their upcoming CD, Revelation. It was a day late, delayed by Wednesday's storms.

        Nick and Drew Lachey, Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons sang to a crowd of about 3,000, mostly young teens, and to a battery of 10 TV cameras, filming the free concert for the Disney Channel.

        The demands of TV often intruded, as sound and lighting changes and sundry glitches caused delays. The concert, scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m., began about an hour late and ran until 1 a.m.

        Opening act Hoku, who will share the hour-long Disney show, contributed most of the delays. Woefully inexperienced, painfully nervous, she flubbed lyrics, giggled nervously and apologized again and again. She even apologized before mistakes, ensuring yet more gaffes. It took her more than two hours to do a half-hour of music. The daughter of Hawaiian pop star Don Ho, she inherited none of her father's show business skills.

        The crowd, most of whom also had been at Wednesday night's rained-out show, waited patiently. Many had been there for almost 12 hours by the time 98¼ hit the stage at 11:30. But they perked up as the quartet opened with the new “The Way You Want Me.”

        98` showed its professionalism from the start, rapidly moving through three songs with the momentum the evening had lacked. Even when technical changes stopped the show, the group's six-man band filled the gap with instrumental grooves.

        The performance showed how far the quartet has come and pointed up the major difference between 98` and their boy-band competition — Backstreet Boys and 'NSync.

        Those two groups are teen idols first, singers second. But 98 has always concentrated on vocal harmonies. That's why their biggest hits have been ballads — the best showcases for those vocals.

        With the songs on Revelation, they've expanded their sound to include boy band-style dance pop.

        The entire show featured new, more energetic choreography. The first single, “Una Noche,” was the best example, as the quartet smoothly moved to Latin rhythms with their four female dancers. The new, uptempo “Dizzy” even featured Nick rapping.

        They also did the ballads. “My Everything” from the new CD, was a worthy addition to a list that includes their massive hit, “I Do (Cherish You),” and their first gold record, “Invisible Man.”

        They did both on Thursday, or was it Friday by then? “Invisible Man” was done twice, due to technical problems. It was the only major glitch in 98`'s show.

        98 & Hoku in Concert airs on the Disney Chanel in early October.


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- Concert review: 98¼
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