Fans hang tough with New Kids on the Block as aging boy band revisits hits

TORONTO They brought the moves, the co-ordinating outfits and plenty of cheese.

Thankfully, the reunited New Kids on the Block have been around the block long enough to know their seasoned audience - now adults and parents just like they are - are welcoming their second go-around out of nostalgia more than anything else.

So, the Boston-bred quintet peppered their sentimental show at Toronto's Air Canada Centre with some good-natured kitsch, culminating in an outrageously flamboyant solo by poster boy Jordan Knight in which he ripped open his white dress shirt while a blowing fan sent it billowing around his toned torso.

It resulted in what was simultaneously the most inspired and cringe-worthy moment of the night, and the sheer absurdity of it helped elevate what was otherwise a slightly rocky return to yesteryear.

Overall, it was an oddly paced show with some inconsistent performances, but the male posing seemed more than enough for the largely female audience that screamed non-stop through the concert. With many wearing New Kids concert T-shirts, or homemade fan shirts, they emitted especially high shrieks whenever baby-faced Joey McIntyre took a step towards them, or bad boy Donnie Wahlberg pointed to the rafters.

"Toronto, Toronto, Toronto, Toronto," Wahlberg said towards the end of a nearly two-hour set as women roared back at the nearly full arena.

"I don't know how we're going to leave, I don't know how we're going to go to another city after this weekend."

The quintet kicked things off with a new song, "Single" and ended it with their comeback song, "Summertime, " off their recent release of all-new material, "The Block."

Blasts from the past came early in the night, including "My Favourite Girl," "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" and "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)", but they saved their 1991 hit "Step By Step" for the encore.

Again, the screams were ear-splitting as the men replicated dance moves nearly 17 years old.

Now pushing middle age, it's been roughly 20 years since McIntyre, Wahlberg, Knight, Jonathan Knight and Danny Wood helped define a sugary pop era with monster puppy love-themed hits.

But the passage of time seemed to mean little to the group's ardent female fans, many of whom appeared to be in their late 20s and 30s and some accompanied by kids of their own.

"Not too bad for 15 years later, right?" said the 35-year-old McIntyre, who went solo and then launched a Broadway career after the group split in 1994.

Since the breakup, each of the band members took different paths. Wahlberg, 39, pursued acting while Wood, 39, and Jordan Knight, 38, each released solo projects. Jonathan Knight, 39, who battled panic attacks in his early days with the group, became a real estate developer.

Of all the Kids, the elder Knight seemed the most awkward on stage, occasionally flubbing the choreography and staring blankly at the crowd.

Meanwhile, intermittent costume breaks halted momentum several times during the show, during which time the multi-level stage simply went dark.

Video screens and a grid of lights adorned the sparse setup, with a revolving satellite stage allowing some up-close contact for those seated further back in the arena.

Friday's show was the second of a three-night stand at Toronto's Air Canada Centre, with the final show set for Sunday.

The New Kids on the Block head to Montreal on Saturday and visit Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver in mid-to-late November.