Sunday, June 30, 2013
Photos: New Kids On The Block incited swooning and screaming even in 2013
The only ones not screaming were the husbands, who were likely trying to find a men’s room that hadn’t been turned into a women’s room.
DALLAS It’s been a quarter-century since New Kids on the Blocks first inspired a zillion high-pitched female screams. But the weird thing Friday night is how the passage of time hadn’t squelched the screaming one bit.
The band’s teen fans are in now their 30s and 40s, with careers and mortgages and Bieber-lovin’ daughters of their own. But the moment the five reunited New Kids walked onstage at American Airlines Center, the near-capacity crowd shrieked and swooned like it was 1988. The only ones not screaming were the husbands, who had the double indignity of trying to find a men’s room that hadn’t been turned into a women’s room.
The New Kids hadn’t changed much, either. Now all in their 40s, they played their original boy-toy roles with relish, swagger, and tongues planted firmly in cheek: Dreamy Jordan Knight and Joey McIntyre handled most of the lead vocals, crowd banter and pelvis thrusts; Donnie Wahlberg was the shirtless bad boy, showing off maximum rump cleavage and happily swapping spit with a fan in the front row; Danny Wood did a little break-dancing and blended into the background; Jonathan Knight made himself scarce.
The show (which featured opening sets by 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men) was non-stop circus of costume changes, confetti, lasers, balloons, and fireballs, with the New Kids holding court on a spinning stage in the center of the arena. At one point, the Kids looked like human ice-cream push-ups as they sprouted out of the stage while standing on hydraulic pedestals.
It was an apt moment for a band whose R&B-flavored pop is mostly sugary confection. Most of their oldies -- “Hanging’ Tough,” “You Got It (The Right Stuff), “Step by Step” -- sounded as lightweight now as they did back then. They did find traction with a soulful new rocker, “Remix (I Like The),” and during well-played covers of the Isley Brothers’ “Shout,” Prince’s “Kiss,” and the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There,” sung perfectly by McIntyre.
At their best, McIntyre and Jordan Knight came off as competent blue-eyed soul singers, although both ran adrift whenever they tried to get too dramatic: Knight sounded like a cat being tortured when he started ad-libbing in the ballad “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever).” The three other singers were adequate at best and painful at worst: Wahlberg’s lead singing in “Cover Girl” was especially cringe-inspiring.
Then again, complaining about music inadequacies at a New Kids show is like criticizing the driving techniques at a Monster Truck competition. It’s completely beside the point.
Thor Christensen is a Dallas writer and critic.
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