Jesse McCartney and fans get ‘Back Together’

McCartney reclaims the stage at UW-Eau Claire


Photo by Kendall Ruchti

Jesse McCartney gave an energetic and sentimental performance, singing twelve numbers from old albums and new.

Story by Deanna Kolell, Staff Writer

The atmosphere in Zorn Arena crackled with electricity Saturday night. People packed together, shoulder to shoulder, as thumping bass poured from the speakers.

Even before the opener took the stage, the crowd took up a rallying cry, chanting one name over and over again: Jesse.

Jesse McCartney performed at UW-Eau Claire last weekend as presented by the University Activities Commission (UAC), where he sang an eclectic set representing nearly every one of his albums.

Lizzie Nolden, a first-year biology student, serves as the concert co-chair for the UAC; as part of her duties, she helps coordinate between the concerts committee, the Event Production Crew and the artist for Eau Claire’s annual concert.

Nolden said McCartney was chosen from a list of five artists by the concert committee, and she thought he would bring a dose of nostalgia to the concert scene.

“I think Jesse brought students back to their childhoods,” Nolden said. “The song ‘Beautiful Soul’ came out in 2004, when most students were in elementary or middle school.”

However, before McCartney took the stage, the concert opened with Whosah, an indie-pop band from Minneapolis. The musicians were filled with energy, jumping around on the stage and jumping up on the speakers.

To get the audience energized, Whosah sang a number of familiar tunes from “Stacy’s Mom” to “My Girl,” and got students involved in a number of singing and dancing competitions.

Nevertheless, by Whosah’s fifth number, the crowd began to demand McCartney once again. When the lights went down, the audience erupted in ear-splitting screams. Then McCartney himself swaggered onto the stage, sipping an energy drink.

The reaction was instantaneous. As soon as McCartney began to sing his first number “Leavin’,” the crowd began to dance, screaming his name and singing along.

Erin Duba, a resident of Grafton, Wisconsin, said she has loved McCartney’s music since elementary school and has enjoyed seeing him mature as a musician over the years. To her, seeing McCartney perform live was a lifelong dream.

“I loved his early music that was more acoustic and soulful, and I still can get behind his new sound,” Duba said. “My favorite part of the concert was when Jesse did his acoustic set … it’s nice to hear his voice in all its glory, without all the extra sound blurring it.”

McCartney demonstrated his evolution by performing a number of songs from his newest album “In Technicolor,” which released in 2014. However, he also appeased fans by performing numbers from his debut album “Beautiful Soul,” which he released ten years earlier.

Another reason she loves McCartney’s music, Duba said, is because he respects women in his lyrics. Although McCartney is part of a genre that frequently sings about love and women, she said he never degrades them like other music heard today.

“It’s refreshing to hear Jesse sing because he really just appreciates the women in his life for all the right reasons and doesn’t need to overly sexualize them,” Duba said. “That’s a pretty cool dude right there.”

Some members of the audience got specific attention from McCartney during his set. While singing “The Stupid Things,” McCartney stopped the song to invite someone on stage.

Kelsey Frank, a junior elementary education and special education student, was chosen to join McCartney on stage. Last week, she said she and her roommates had joked about meeting Jesse McCartney, but she never thought it would happen.

“All of my friends went crazy, and I thought we were making eye contact,” Frank said. “He left our side of the stage so I thought my chance was over, but then he came back and point to me and told me to come up … It did not seem real that I was walking on stage with Jesse McCartney.”

While Frank sat on a stool center stage, McCartney serenaded her for the remainder of the song. However, Frank said her favorite part of the experience came after the song had ended.

“He grabbed my hand and then kissed it,” Frank said. “After the song, he gave me a hug and said, ‘Thank you,’ but I said, ‘No, thank you,’ and told him he made my childhood dreams come true. He definitely made it a night to remember.”

McCartney closed the concert by thanking Eau Claire and those who had organized the event as he exited the stage; however, the audience knew he had forgotten something. McCartney had left the stage, but the crowd called him back, chanting “Beautiful Soul” until he returned.

From there, the phones went up and the audience gave a collective, ecstatic scream as they began to sing along to “Beautiful Soul” for the entire song. The final strains faded away, and the crowd cheered once again as McCartney left the stage for good.

Although the times may change, Jesse McCartney showed the audience that night the power of 2000s nostalgia will stand the test of time.