New Kids On The Block (O2 Arena, London)


Walking into the O2 at the weekend and seeing the sheer volume of women aged in their late Twenties and Thirties, there was no mistaking a reformed boy band would be performing.

But it wasn’t Take That or Boyzone, it was their American predecessor, New Kids On The Block, who is credited with inspiring their British and Irish counterparts.

Now aged between 36 and 40 and 18 years after their latest UK concert, the five-piece from Boston had a lot to prove.

A video montage of the group in their heyday fuelled the tension in the room and you could hear the collective baited breath of the thousands of women in the audience waiting in anticipation to see their teen idols.

As the first bars of their latest release, the catchy R&B ballad ‘Single’ kicked in and the group were raised to the stage, the 20,000 sell-out crowd erupted into hysteria.

While keen to show off their new material, the group were well aware the fans were there for their greatest hits and really got into the swing of things with their first UK No.1 ‘You Got It (The Right Stuff)’ and album track ‘My Favourite Girl’.

Not dissimilar from a raucous hen night, the fans would continue to scream excitedly throughout the night whenever their favourite Kid performed a solo verse.

In contrast to when they performed to teenagers in the UK back in the early Nineties, the old Kids were able to push the boundaries for their older audience and whipped the already hysterical women into a frenzy with the odd crotch-grab during their slick dance routines.

Having originally seen them in concert back in 1991, I was expecting to see less dancing and wasn’t sure what to expect to with the vocals.

But it appears the years have matured the group’s voices, in particular the group’s ‘baby’ Joey McIntyre, whose Broadway experience has obviously boosted his vocal range.

As hoped, Jordan Knight still has his falsetto voice and hit those high notes as he sang ‘Didn’t I Blow You Mind’ and ‘Valentine Girl’.

During the concert, Donnie, Joey and Jordan Knight all enjoyed solo sessions on stage, leaving the less prominent members Jonathan Knight and Danny Wood sticking to the group songs.

Rather impressively, 39-year-old Danny, known as the dancer and muscleman of the group, still showed he could breakdance after all these years.

Donnie Wahlberg, the ‘wild one’ of the band, was full of flirtatious chat and repeatedly flattered the audience as he declared his love for London and its women.

Pandering to the fans, the group wore Arsenal, Liverpool and England football shirts and Wahlberg took his Brit love one step further by pulling his jeans down to reveal a pair of Union Jack shorts.

While it was clear all the fans were the originals back for a taste of nostalgia, the high production values and the strong vocals from new releases ‘Summertime’, ‘Dirty Dancing’ and ‘Twisted’ would impress today’s teenage pop connoisseurs.

While the overall set for New Kids On The Block was basic, the show wasn’t lacking.

All fears about how the time since the group disbanded in 1994 would affect their performance quickly subsided after the show began.

I was pleasantly surprised to see both their vocals, and dare I say it the dance moves, were better than first time round.

The show ended on a high with an energetic, rousing performance of two of their biggest songs, ‘Step By Step’ and ‘Hangin’ Tough’, which would convince any skeptics of their entertainment ability.

While the only kids in New Kids On The Block these days are the bandmembers’s own children, the group are still the right side of middle-age and proved they’re still ‘Hangin’ Tough’.

Verdict: A good dose of nostalgia and all-round entertainment

4 Stars

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