From back flips to falsettos, the Beantown five have still got it. Playing to a crowd of 5,000 or so, NKOTB led a two hour hit parade the popped and dazzled, at times with ridiculous hype. But to be fair, this is what their fans want from the granddaddy of all boy bands. After a good three minutes of dramatic orchestration and footage on the screen reminding us that “15 years ago, they walked away from it all,” the guys rose from beneath the stage on a platform as all grand pop stars must and soaked in the deafening squeals around them, eventually kicking in to “Call It What You Want,” from their 1990 disc, “Step by Step.” Two smash hits, “Favorite Girl” and “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” were nearly inaudible thanks to the shrieks and yips of the mostly female audience.
With the exception of a few crow's feet and scantily clad, dancing girls, very little has changed about the Kids' live show. The moves are spot-on the same as they were circa 1989 and surprisingly tight given that most of the band is pushing 40. Danny Wood's mad break dancing skills are fully intact and Joey McIntyre and Jordan Knight still elicit the most attention. Bad-boy, Donnie Wahlberg, continues to incite “who can scream louder” face-offs between opposing sides of the venue and Jonathan Knight remains “the shy one” looking often like he thinks this whole thing is simply ridiculous. Despite the nostalgia and the vibe of what Wahlberg noted “a reunion with friends,” it remarkably didn't reek of complete and utter cheesiness. Well, at least for the most part. Jordan Knight's wind machine, chest baring episode and Wahlberg's incessant crotch grabbing could and should have been avoided.
Surprisingly, material from the band's new disc, “The Block,” was received with equal fanfare as the old favorites. “Dirty Dancing” pushed the PG-13 envelope with undulating bass throbs and complimentary pelvic thrusts and grinds, while “Grown Man,” gave the backing band (yes, there are instruments on stage at an NKOTB show) a chance to showcase their skills while the guys engaged in a digital duet with the Pussycat Dolls via Jumbotron. Eventually, the back of the arena got a chance to get up close and personal with the aged heartthrobs when they slipped through some side doors onto a tiny stage boasting a piano, where Jordan hammered out the beginning notes to “Tonight” causing yet another eruption of female wails and blinding photo flashes. Back on the mainstage, there were a few solo showcases here and there, a dance off between audience members via the big screen and of course … lots and lots of screaming. No moment held more reverence than when a sizeable bra came flying at Donnie Wahlberg and he smashed it against his face, noting that it smelled of “beer and Waffle House.” The creepy smile that followed was equal parts pervy and hilarious. The confetti-drenched encore, “Hangin' Tough,” paled in comparison to the double-D encounter, but completed the requirements for a die-hard's perfect setlist. If they keep up the flamboyant showmanship, both the band and their fans will be ready for a spot on the Vegas strip in the next fifteen years.
"A video of the entire group walking RIGHT BY US after performing Tonight and leaving the center stage!" -- pinksparklies (YouTube)