New Kids on the Block at Target Center, 7/20/13
Photo by Tony Nelson
New Kids on the Block
with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men
Target Center, Minneapolis
A lot can happen in 25 years. People age, they grow up and get jobs and have a family, but sometimes they never grow out of their first love: Donnie, Danny, Joey, Jordan, and Jonathan. The world of New Kids on the Block is filled with middle-aged women, choreographed dance moves, pyrotechnics, a lot of crotch grabbing, and, oh yeah, music.
Opening the night was an all-too-short set from Philly's Boyz II Men -- no longer a quartet and now just a trio. The group sang all of their hits from "I'll Make Love to You" to "End of the Road," ending with the cheer-inducing "Motownphilly." With twice the time for their set, 98 Degrees accelerated into cheesy territory when they crossed that thin line into boy-band schtick by stripping down to white tank tops and singing to four different women/girls pulled from the audience. While they still sound good, the group's set seemed a little lackluster.
With the majority of the crowd there to see headliners New Kids on the Block from Boston, the screams were deafening when the DJ turned down the house music as the audience was directed to turn their attention toward the screen, reading along to the battle cry "Together we own the night." Arriving onstage in white tuxedos, the men of NKOTB danced and sang along to "We Own Tonight," the opening track from 10, their latest album. As canned and rehearsed as their dance moves, the young'n of the group, Joey McIntyre, asked, "Do you mind of we come a little closer?" followed by the quintet moving to the stage set in the middle of the Target Center floor.
Photo by Tony Nelson
While the "boy band" members don't play any instruments, they are excellent at entertaining by dancing and moving around onstage. When they first came out circa 1988, the group had a squeaky-clean image, later changing it up to show off their "tough" side. Knowing that it was more adults than children in the audience Saturday evening, all five did away with that clean image even more as they hip-thrusted and crotch-grabbed their way through the first few songs.
Hitting their stride, they moved into their signature dance for "You Got It (the Right Stuff)," causing the crowd to go even more crazy. Special effects included a center stage that moved in a circular motion that raised and lowered -- depending on the song -- and single platforms for each member, allowing the audience to "spend time" with each one of the band. With the costume changes, NKOTB's show could rival Lady Gaga's, perhaps just not as weird.
Photos by Tony Nelson
The three prominent singers in NKOTB, Jordan, Joey, and Donnie, were able to trade songs and performances throughout their two-hour set. Knight and McIntyre are still able to sound like no time has passed with Joey on "Please Don't Go Girl" and Jordan with his falsetto on "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)," but Donnie Wahlberg turned flat and out of tune with "Cover Girl."
To appease those with a short attention span, the five performed an acoustic set mid-show followed with a medley that included a cover of George Michael's "Faith" and Prince's "Kiss." The group incorporated the young girls by dancing along to the full version of Icona Pop's "I Love It" -- Jordan and Donnie even grabbed cameras while Joey treadmill-danced on the moving stage.
As NKOTB were waning in popularity as grunge music made an entrance in 1992, they released Step by Step, which included the fun, catchy "Tonight." To make this performance even more special, the group left the stage to sing in the audience, causing pandemonium and a lot of ladies moving to get close to their favorite member. It almost caused a riot, just as when Donnie ripped off his tank top and tossed it into the crowd.
The night drew to a close with another costume change into hockey jerseys marked with Boston pride. The group even came back onstage to the tune of "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" by the Dropkick Murphys, another Massachusetts band. Much of the reason why New Kids can still fill the majority of the Target Center is due to women feeling nostalgic and wanting to relive the years of being a preteen. An encore was not in the books, but they made up for it by saving their big hit "Hangin' Tough" for last. To a young girl singing along to this song, the lyrics made sense, but to an adult, it sounds a little silly since there's nothing "tough" about these men singing pop songs at all.
Critic's bias: My 10-year-old self would have been immensely jealous, because my oldest sister was able to see them at the height of their popularity in 1991, but my other sister and I had to sit at home. My 33-year-old self observed the show with a touch of surrealism.
The crowd: Women.
Overheard in the crowd: "Curfew is not an issue tonight, but some of these women making their bedtime may be an issue." and "The crowd is One Direction fans accelerated 20 years, but now they can drink."
Random notebook dump: Donnie Wahlberg kissed a woman in the crowd, and it wasn't just a quick peck, it was a full-on make-out session.
Random notebook dump 2: For being in their early 40s, these men can still move and actually look pretty good for their age.
We Own Tonight
You Got It (The Right Stuff)
Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)
If You Go Away
Please Don't Go Girl
Remix (I Like the)
Baby I Believe in You / I'll Be There / Tender Love / Click Click Click / Faith / Kiss / Hot in Heere / Dirty Dancing
Step by Step
I Love It (Icona Pop)
California Love (2Pac)
I'll Be Loving You (Forever)
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