‘NSYNC have some surprises in store for fans who presume two massive tours supporting the same album – last year’s Celebrity – is a bit redundant. For the Celebrity 2002 trek, which kicks off March 3 in Portland, Oregon, the pop quintet have traded in stadiums for the cozier confines of arenas, allowing for stripped down, more intimate performances – that is, if your idea of intimate is snuggling up with nearly 20,000 other likeminded pop lovers.
Another way the band plans to refrain from giving a repeat performance of PopOdyssey, which began nearly two months before Celebrity was released, is by offering up reworked versions of familiar songs from the group’s 1998 self-titled debut.
“Last year, it was cool because the kids knew when they were coming to the show that they were going to get something that nobody else had,” Justin Timberlake said, “which was about 80 percent of the album. This year, obviously, they’ll know the songs, but we put a twist on almost everything, so it makes it fun for them to hear it a different way and try to recognize those tunes.”
On the upcoming trek, the group will also perform on a circular stage that gives them a 360-degree view of their fans. It’s an open-armed gesture that makes the group approachable from nearly every angle, and the more seats made available from the space-efficient design only makes for a more densely populated group hug.
“It’s very intimate,” Lance Bass said of the setup. “It’s really all about the music.”
“It’s great because you can fit more people and more people can come see you,” added Joey Fatone. “You’re also closer to everybody. It does limit you in what you can do with special effects and that type of stuff, but this tour we didn’t want to do that. We didn’t want to do the huge production that we always do. We really wanted to get down and change some of the songs up. Just really get in there with the music and let the people experience something new that they haven’t seen before.”
Timberlake summarized, “This tour will be completely different. [Fans] can expect the unexpected. We’re gonna have a chance to sit down and talk to them a little bit more, and they’ll definitely feel like they left with a piece of us.”
Concerning other concert details, the group remained tight-lipped, not wanting to spoil any surprises or appear too staged.
“I don’t want to say too much about it, because then it won’t be exciting when [fans] come,” Timberlake said. “They’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah, he said he was going to do that, so then he did it.’ ”
‘NSYNC have lined up P. Diddy, Smash Mouth and Ginuwine to open the 37 shows, with each artist handling a portion of the tour. Bass didn’t divulge any plans for onstage collaborations with ‘NSYNC’s crowd primers, nor would he deny the possibility.
“You never know who might join us onstage,” he hinted.