Boy band New Kids on the Block officially expired 15 years ago, but Edmonton paid no mind to that best-before date, guzzling down the Boston fivesome from the second they step-by-stepped on stage. Ooh baby. It was mainly 30-something women at this nostalgic show, former infatuees from the days when NKOTB was the right stuff in manufactured pop music.
But judging by the blood-curdling din, the cult-like fist-pumping and the surprising frenzy when the band did a number on a revolving stage in the middle of the main floor, NKOTB has still got more than a hint of that Hangin' Tough hot factor.
OK, so there's more than a hint of cheese, too. It's surreal -- even embarrassing -- to watch a troupe of nearly 40-year-old men harmonizing songs like My Favourite Girl whilst clutching their crotches in sync. There were some mocking shrieks from men ("I love you, Joey!") and some catty laughs. But cheese is good for you, and the bulk of the audience response was legit.
Clearly, there's still money to be made from passionate, loyal fans. "People outside this building just don't understand the relationship we have!" Donnie screamed, and the house screamed right back. "But back then, they thought you were just crazy teenagers!"
After reuniting earlier this year, the Older Kids released an album and headed out on tour, knowing their equally Older Fans would pay for another taste. They opened the Edmonton show with 2008 single, aptly named Single, then quickly rewound to the classics.
"Edmonton, is this really happening? Is this really for real?" Joey McIntyre asked. "Really? Boy oh boy. More like ... woman oh woman. There's some pretty girls in Edmonton. It's a little distracting! " Joey's voice had aged as well as we'd hoped, but hearts still throbbed as he dropped to his knees and crooned Please Don't Go, Girl. Jordan and his dimples were just as darling, brother Jonathan Knight just as wallflowery, and Danny Wood just as simian. Donnie Wahlberg, ever the bad boy, wound up the house with his repeated ED-MON-TON calls and naughty inquiry: "How's my butt look tonight?"
Opening the show was Italian-American electro-popster Lady Gaga, whose killer video effects matched her killer legs as she performed Beautiful Dirty Rich and Just Dance. Brit pop singer Natasha Bedingfield followed, but her cutesypoo look and adorably hoarse voice couldn't compensate for mediocre music. Bedingfield may have that Kylie sex appeal but the soulmate-sunshine- love-me-please nonsense made us want to run out for a quick beer.
And OK, let's face it: NKOTB don't have the same magic they had back in the day. But the crowd's fervour seemed to say, can't we pretend, just for tonight? Yes, we can. New Kids fans may be a little older, a little thicker around the middle, but 15 years and 15 pounds can't dim that infatuated sparkle in their eyes.
And that, as much as the boy band itself, is wicked entertainment.