Seeing a New Kids on the Block concert in 2017 is weird – and also kind of awesome.
Like, there’s Donnie Wahlberg, well into his 40s, his shirt pulled up to his neck, his abs showing and he’s singing about some cover girl.
And he’s on top of a piano. And it’s on fire.
There’s Joey McIntyre, still looking young, if not boy-band young. He’s on his knees, looking as pained as any singer ever, pleading, “please don’t go girl.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Fresno Bee
There’s a massive amount of pelvic thrusts and choreographed slides, shuffles and arm raising and it’s all punctuated with confetti blasting down over the crowd – which was large and loud (and mostly female) for the band’s Total Package tour at Save Mart Center on Wednesday night.
On concept alone, an NKOTB show at this point shouldn’t work as well as it does. From the moment the show starts, it’s obvious that this isn’t a boy band any more, even if they raise up from under the stage in a boy-band pose-off stance.
It helps that the guys – Wahlberg and McIntyre, plus Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight and Danny Wood – have aged well, both in looks and ability and that they are not ashamed of their younger selves. They’re totally self-aware. They’re cool with showing old press photos of the teenaged NKOTB on screen and recreating those moments for fans – down to the denim outfits.
When Wahlberg forgets a few words in the middle of the set, he happily and playfully admits as much.
“Who cares?” he asks.
No one. No one cares, because they are in the middle of a moment and it is a nostalgic rush.
So, yes, when NKOTB plays “The Right Stuff” and asks you to jump around, to sing along, you do it. After all, it’s why you came.
▪ NKOTB makes for a pretty decent doo-wop vocal band.
▪ Speaking of: Boyz II Men opened the show as “your friendly neighborhood harmonizers.” They mostly stuck to the hits (“End of the Road,” “I’ll Make Love to You,” “On Bended Knee”), but also took as quick turn as a soulful rock band, doing a Lenny Kravitz medley. They pulled it off really well.
▪ Paula Abdul makes a pretty decent motivational speaker. The singer/dancer has returned to touring after 25 years and puts on a dazzling display that is heavy on the dance visuals and includes costume changes between each number. It also includes a healthy dose of inspiration for the women in the audience.
▪ More than NKOTB or Boyz II Men, I somehow knew all of Abdul’s songs, without ever being a fan.
▪ There were bar stools set up around the front of the stage. They were sectioned off by red velvet rope, just like in a club. Talk about VIP status.
▪ Confetti cannons make things so much fun. NKOTB used them early and often.
▪ Joey may or may not have stolen someone’s beer while out in the crowd. Donnie totally did.
▪ From Donnie: “You have not officially arrived on the the West Coast until you’ve arrived in Fresno, California.”