Pop Odyssey Tour - Critical Reception

Critical Reception

The tour received mixed criticisms from numerous music critics in the U.S. Many commented on bad acoustics in certain venues while others complained of the massive staging taking away from the show. For the debut concert at Altell Stadium, Nick Marino (The Florida Times-Union) writes despite the massive stage, the band's stage presence was out of this world. He continued, "A big pop show, an expensive pop show, but a pop show all the same. 'N Sync realizes (thank goodness) that they are famous, in part, for being famous, and they're using that fact as the touchstone for this entire tour. Pretty smart".

At the Hersheypark Stadium show, Peter Debruge (Entertainment Weekly) felt the group strayed away from the traditional "pop" sound. He further states, Judging by the thousands of glow-stick wagging teenage girls whose eager screams punctuated each peppy chorus, the crowd enthusiastically approved of the unfamiliar songs, even if it meant not being able to sing along. And it's clear that 'N Sync's fan base extends beyond these enthusiastic teens, as I discovered while standing in line between a young gay couple and a middle-aged man wearing an 'I'd Rather Be Hunting' t-shirt. Or maybe that guy was just someone's dirty pop. Sean Richardson (Boston Phoenix) thought the show at the Foxboro Stadium "colorful". He goes on to say, "The group’s wacky sense of humor dominated, especially during a series of slapstick video segments like the faux Western that introduced 'Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay)'. A bit of a drag on record, the song came alive when the guys flew out across the audience from the top of the stage at the beginning and engaged in a crowd-pleasing display of synchronized bull riding at the end".

Neil Strauss (The New York Times) compared the show at the Giants Stadium to U2's PopMart Tour, saying the production was spectacle for the sake of spectacle. He continued, "But where 'N Sync had its stadium rivals beat was in the sheer size of its budget and gimmickry. Almost every song came with its own elaborate filmed introduction, expensive high-tech effect, or both. The stage was like a lavish amusement park and arcade. During various songs, futuristic mechanical bulls, giant playpen toys, zip wires, trampolines, treadmills, magic tricks, rubber sit 'n' bounce balls, bicycles, individual elevating platforms, Velcro suits, freight elevators and video game simulations were used by the band". For the same concert, Isaac Guzman (New York Daily News) felt the show was "all sizzle, no steak". He explains, "On a stage set so large it looked as if someone had parked the upper decks of an ocean liner on the field, the group—Justin Timberlake, Joey Fatone, J.C. Chasez, Lance Bass and Chris Kirkpatrick—was dwarfed by the size of the production. To a certain extent, that was the point: 'Popodyssey' is meant to explore the meaning of 'Celebrity', which happens to be the title of the group's next record, slated for release July 24. In 'N Sync's world, celebrity means facing down gold-digging girlfriends and complaining about having to wear sequin-covered chaps while singing 'Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay)'. It also means being open to your fans' admiration by sincerely reading their love letters aloud".

Reviewing the show at the SkyDome, Jane Stevenson (Jam!) gave the performance three and a half out of five stars. She states, "The non-stop display of spectacle aside—there were also levitating platforms, Velcro suits, moving sidewalks, fans taking pictures of the group on stage and the band's final disappearing magic act—the crowd erupted into ear-piercing screams whenever NSYNC performed their neo-Chippendales dance maneuvers". At the Metrodome show, Jon Bream (Star Tribune) noted the effects were bigger, brighter and bolder than their last tour. He says, "This time around, the Prefab Five seemed to be projecting more of an attitude, as if some of the songs and the messages on the video screen were flipping a figurative finger at critics. The feistiness adds a much-needed edge, but if critics are 'N Sync's biggest gripe, these guys have nothing to complain about". Scott Mervis (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) called the show at RFK Stadium the "mother of all stadium tours". He follows, "But the shtick was piled ever higher. There were flying contraptions. A tasteful helping of pyro. Toys to ride around on. Costumes louder than Joey that they changed into while we were entertained by their slick home videos. One of those Velcro walls inspired by David Letterman for 'Up Against the Wall'. Hot chicks in superhero costumes, and a diabolical wizard taking the controls for 'The Game Is Over'.

As the tour progressed into 2002, the band received more positive reviews from critics. Many wrote of the band's oversimplification of the staging. Others felt the "in the round" staging ignored forty percent of the audience. Leah Greenblatt (MTV News) felt the show at the Rose Garden was "electric". She continues "Justin was quickly established as the star of the show — at least as far as the Jumbotron cameramen were concerned — with JC running a close second. Joey, Lance and Chris have all the moves down, but appear to be going through the motions at times; this is the JC and Justin Show, and the others seemed resigned to their supporting-player status". Kelefa Sanneh (The New York Times) thought the show at the Continental Airlines Arena was entertaining given the pseudo-intimate vibe. She continues, "The group is getting older, and its audience is, too: the young woman in the 'Justin I'm legal' t-shirt may not have been misrepresenting herself. And this tour is clearly designed to emphasize the group's musical credibility. And yet 'N Sync is still a boy band, which means its existence—and its self-image—depends on its ability to entertain screaming teenagers".

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