OTTAWA — Nineteen years ago, New Kids on the Block attracted more than 20,000 screaming teenage girls to an outdoor concert at Lansdowne Park. That rainy summer night was one of the biggest concerts ever held in the nation’s capital.
Back then, the Boys were fresh-faced and hard-bodied, sold millions of CDs and cassettes and charged a mere $23 for their
T-shirts. How times have changed.
At a half-filled Scotiabank Place Monday night, the reunited Kids returned to town as grown men, the crowd was made up of several thousand adult females and
T-shirts started at $40.
However, during the concert, the shrieking may have reached the same fever pitch of excitement, especially when Donnie Wahlberg described Ottawa as the “second loudest” city of the tour and fans had to rise to the challenge of increasing the volume.
No problem. As the Kids realized last year when they launched their comeback effort, there is a lot of pent-up affection for NKOTB among the members of a certain demographic. Those girls are in their 30s now, can afford their own concert tickets and they’re still completely smitten with the Boston boy band.
The Kids could do no wrong in front of such a devoted audience. Looking fit, though probably starting to worry about hairline issues, the grown-up Kids knocked off a slick concert that put a fresh spin on their old hits, blending them in with several tracks from their recent disc, Block.
While it was a little creepy to witness the high-pitched voices and peppy choreography coming from men who aren’t far from 40, for the gals in the audience, it was a perfect excuse to get together and act like teenagers again.
Out in the lobby, they managed to keep their cool, proudly showing off homemade posters declaring their love for Jordan, Joey, Donnie, Jonathan or Danny, but the moment the lights went down they turned into shrieking demons, cellphones held high throughout the show.
Performing on a basic multi-level stage, the Kids ran through Single, My Favorite Girl and Right Stuff, showing their nimble footwork and unremarkable group singing. Every time one of them raised an arm, dozens in the audience would scream.
New songs like Grown Man and Dirty Dancing were delivered with a heavy bottom end, while the lightweight original hits were doled out like candy, sending the audience flashing back to simpler times in their lives.
In the end, it looked like a new twist on the boy-band phenomenon. While girls have been falling in love with boys who play in a group ever since the dawn of the music industry, New Kids on the Block may be the first to get a second chance at riding the wave.
What’s more, the comeback shows no signs of slowing down. A summer tour was also announced yesterday, starting on May 28 in Atlanta. As Wahlberg said on the band’s blog, “We will not be stopped!”
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