And so they appeared, just 15 minutes late, after a rousing opening set eclectic popstress Lady Gaga and a pre-recorded call from New Kid Joey McIntyre urging fans to text in their impressions to be broadcast on two screens flanking the stage. TTYL8R, simpler times.The Bostonian five-piece appeared in good nick, as did the high-pitched lungs of their decidedly female fan base.
Kicking the set off with the double-entendre of "Single," from their 2008 chart-topping comeback album The Block, the kids-turned- men milked their arrival for all it was worth, appearing on a rising platform amongst a barrage of smoke, all syncopated dance moves and amorous gazes. Though the group onstage were all pushing 40, it was hard not to see them as their younger selves, especially with McIntyre's puppy-dog eyes broadcast in crush-inducing hi-def.
Make no mistake - the dance moves were cheesy; the thumping of the chest, followed by a meaningful point at the audience appears to be a boy-band move not in danger of going out of style. But somehow it worked, especially when the choreographed lads launched into 20-year-old blockbuster "Favourite Girl," with handsome Jordan Knight taking the lead with an admirably intact falsetto.
Ultimately, how does one even begin to critically assess a New Kids on the Block reunion show? Was every Kid still looking fetching, if not a little longer in the tooth? Absolutely. Were the dance moves all that a once-12-year- old fan could hope for? To be sure. The crowd, looking to capture a little face time with their first blush of non-threatening manhood undoubtedly went away pleased, with the still fantastically catchy "Right Stuff" in their head. Indeed, it may have passed that otherwise self-respecting spectators found themselves singing "Please Don't Go Girl" at the top of their lungs, the lyrics surprisingly present at the tip of their tongue. Indeed, anyone looking for a singalong got their money's worth, and anyone doubting the prowess of the men onstage needed only to regard the breakdance section of "No More Games." To be almost 40 and pulling headspins is nothing to scoff at.Was it ABBA reunited, or Elvis resurrected? No, it was a boy band, all grown up - a bit silly, but still pretty handsome performers. A bit of kitschy fun for those of us who grew up in the ''80s, and a retro throwback for thefew in the crowd who weren't born during the first wave of "Hangin' Tough," maybe a lesson, even, about the boy band that started it all, If there was one confusing moment in the evening, it was the Oscars-style memorial montage of "Those We've Lost," which featured images of Heath Ledger, Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., Aaliyah, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Kurt Cobain, Frank Sinatra and Betty Wood, Danny Wood's mother who passed away from breast cancer.
It was a bit strange, but hey, so is the whole idea of New Kids on the Block 20 years later. All in all, a laugh, and a funny little glimpse at more innocent pop-music era, when crotch shots and sex tapes were unheard of in a pre-teen fan's mind. And in these grim and pressing times, who can ask for more than that?