Jesse McCartney descended upon The Wiltern on Saturday with a show stopping performance wrapping The New Stage Tour in Los Angeles. McCartney proved he hasn’t gone anywhere with effortless vocal chops, hit songwriting abilities and charisma on stage all adding up to 20-plus years in the business. The vocalist who fits somewhere in the middle of pop/rock and R&B was joined by two emerging stars as openers, Welsh “It Is What It Is” singer Jamie Miller and LA “never have i ever” pop singer Casey Baer. McCartney, who was the runner-up and fan favorite as The Turtle on Season 3 of The Masked Singer was joined by his buddy and fellow Masked contestant, Hunter Hayes, who was also highly respected as The Robot.
Summer screamfest was in full effect when the lights went dark, with Jesse McCartney appearing on stage in a 70s-era look with a brown jacket and pant suit with orange and yellow accents complementing his longer locks. He got to business with an orange microphone on newer 2021 New Stage track “Discovering You”. He took it back to “She’s No You” from 2005, a tune that hit the airwaves in the final years of MTV TRL relevancy, sounding relatively current as McCartney rocked the mic stand, grooving to massive screams.
Jesse visited the front of the stage to interact with his fans during “Selfless”, giving his drummer David Haddon a few moments of solo magic. McCartney returned to the riser he started off at, this time with his guitarist Keven Eknes, facing him mid-song for that perfect rockstar moment.
“I can’t think of a better city to wrap up this tour, right where I live”, said McCartney. He mentioned playing some new songs off his recent album and said, “But first…” and he launched into his Tricky Stewart-produced smash “Leavin'”, with the “oh ohs” in full effect from the crowd. McCartney sang the lyric “the one who’s so so fly”, grabbing his jacket’s lapel.
McCartney talked about his two decades in the industry, offering his gratitude for all the support. He shared about how people he didn’t even know over the years told him how they met their wife because of one of his songs. After the applause, he got back to another new one, performing his acoustic guitar ballad “Yours”, giving off NSYNC and Backstreet Boys vibes, but he of course nailed it solo.
The catchy hip-hop beats of pop song “Shake” kept the place moving, with McCartney back up on the riser under glowing yellows, moving and dancing during maximum innuendo. “How are we feeling?”, asked McCartney before sitting down with guitarist Eknes for an acoustic version of ballad “Just So You Know”, showcasing a pretty solid vocal.
Jesse’s buddy, country-pop singer and guitarist Hunter Hayes surprised the audience for a duet of newer track “Lemonade” alongside bassist Eric Ingram. Hayes got funky on the guitar and McCartney mentioned that he met Hayes when they both appeared on The Masked Singer in early 2020.
“This is one of the biggest songs that I wrote that never got recorded,” said McCartney. He continued that his record label didn’t think it was a hit for him and added that he co-wrote “Bleeding Love” with his good friend Ryan Tedder (of OneRepublic) for Leona Lewis. McCartney sat at the piano, striking the chords with intention and belted away. It was one of the moments of the night, with McCartney hitting his falsetto wonderfully, in a mid-tempo rendition with guitar and drums that made a for a brilliant male vocal.
“Body Language” was high energy with “hey-ays” comin’ in hot from the crowd as the stage flashed in blues and purples. McCartney worked the stage like a madman and he was back on the elevated riser at the mic stand by the bridge, hands under his chin like an angel by the song’s end. He concluded the first part of the show with “Party For Two”, adding that he wrote it for his then-fiancee Katie (who is now his wife). “She’s in the crowd and gave me permission to sing this to one of you tonight”. McCartney then grabbed a fan named Sabrina who was seated as the pop crooner got on his knees midway and held her hand to a roar of cheers.
Jesse McCartney was decked out in a 90s-inspired denim jacket and jeans look, sounding excellent on his debut single “Beautiful Soul”, paired with stellar stage presence. Again, nothing about this song sounded dated. “New Stage”, the title track from the recent album was next, followed by pop/rock tune “Right Where You Want Me”, with funky guitar and its 80s production as McCartney belted. He then mentioned writing a song in 2017/2018 called “Better With You”, years after taking a break, with the feel-good tune bringing out the cell phone lights.
Dance-pop song “Friends” got the crowd’s hands up, as they went wild during the track’s tropical house moments, with McCartney facing Eknes again for a totally rocked out moment. McCartney was seated for another ballad, “Kiss The World Goodbye”, inspiring with some gospel and R&B vibes in the production, ending with a peace sign.
“Listen man, this is bittersweet because it’s the end of the tour”, said McCartney. “I’m more grateful for this tour than any other. I was sitting at home, annoying my wife and people were like, you can’t perform for three years and I couldn’t have done it without you guys”. McCartney thanked his crew and all the professionals in his world, from the venue staff to his manager, stylist and his wife.
Electro-soul hit “How Do You Sleep?” was fresh with the band sounding super hot while the crowd sang along with their hands up. For his encore song, McCartney performed a song that wowed the judges and fans of The Masked Singer, making Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” completely his own.
Word by Michael Menachem
Images by Alex Kluft