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Band of Brothers

"OK, help me out here," I asked recently, "I know which one is Joe, because we saw him in Camp Rock, but of the other two Jonas Brothers, which is Nick and which is Kevin?"

My 11-year-old daughter patiently straightened me out as we headed up the interstate for the Denver stop on the band's summer tour. Whew! I knew I could count on Shelby. Now the only question was whether I could count on Jonas Brothers to put on a live show as wholesome as parents would hope based on the pop-rock trio's Christian roots, positive lyrics and Disney Channel image.

To clarify, I needed to know who was who because we had pre-show meet-and-greet passes. Not that it mattered. After standing in line in the sun for two hours (I've never been happier to pay $4 for a bottle of water), the hasty hello/photo op lasted about 15 seconds. I gave my camera to the photographer and shook a couple of hands. "Hi guys, I'm Bob with Focus on the Family." I turned and hit my knees like a sinner at a Billy Graham crusade, hugged my little girl and saw a flash. One of the boys said, "Focus? We love Adventures in Odyssey—been listening to it for years!" I retrieved my camera, grabbed Shelby and told 'em to have a great show. Next! Runners on a relay team take longer to pass the baton.

Inside the amphitheater we killed time by watching die-hard fans—mostly screaming grade schoolers, teen girls and soccer moms. Many wore homemade T-shirts expressing undying love for Nick, Joe or Kevin. Some proposed marriage on a huge screen. Any movement onstage drew frenzied shrieks that died quickly once people realized it was a roadie moving a mic stand. I didn't see many middle-aged men, but one in our row chaperoning three giddy tweens gave me a knowing look that said, "We are now brothers. If you need a kidney, I'm here for you."

All of this hysteria shocked my daughter, who's a fan but would never scrawl "Future Mrs. Jonas" on her cheeks with face paint. Her eyes kept asking me, What's wrong with these people? I explained that God designed human beings to worship. Ideally, we're supposed to worship Him. But people put all sorts of things on the throne of their hearts … including rock stars. Hence, the pandemonium. Or it could be that they were all just delirious from dehydration, unable to afford $4 bottles of water.

Soon the piped-in music faded and out stepped warm-up act Demi Lovato. She starred in Disney's hit musical Camp Rock, yet spent her entire set singing stuff no one's ever heard before. She did, however, share that she'd just finished filming the Disney Channel Original Movie Princess Protection Program. Smart girl.

As night fell, pyrotechnics sparked to life and Jonas Brothers took the stage. They rocked. Whether bouncing around with acrobatic, punk-pop abandon or settling down for ballads about the emotional taffy pull of love, they put on a great show. Clean, too. At one point, Joe hoisted a small girl onstage to sing a line from "Gotta Find You." And Nick, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2006, talked and sang about his struggle, pledging not to let it get the best of him. That would've been a natural spot for a passing reference to the faith that helps him deal with such trials—a faith they've all discussed before. But it never came.

"We don't say we're a Christian band, we say we're Christians in a band," Kevin told The New York Times. "It's where we started playing music, and it's a huge part of who we are, and we're never going to leave that."

Disney is working overtime to mold the band's image right now. And after the Miley Cyrus fiasco last spring, I can understand the company's desire to protect its investment. But I look forward to hearing these young idols—who have the rapt attention of a generation—once again tell fans Who sits on the throne of their hearts. In the meantime, the Jonases are doing rock right, creating mainstream music and a concert atmosphere that fans of all ages can enjoy.

Published August 2008

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For Bob's take on Kevin Jonas's recent wedding, follow this link to his blog post titled "Congrats, Mr. and Mrs. Jonas."