I was never a particular fan of New Kids on the Block. But since I was not only a kid but alive in the 80’s and 90’s, I always knew their music. If I remember correctly Joey was my favorite, but it’s possible that I’m confusing him with Jordan. But when I hear “Hangin’ Tough,” I’m right back in third grade art class at Center Elementary School. (Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!)
But when a friend I hadn’t seen in ages had an extra ticket to see the New Kids (Old Men?) last night, I was game. I knew the guys had toured Pittsburgh annually since around 2008 or so, but they’d mainly stayed off my radar. I was interested to see what they could bring in 2017.
They brought out an energetic crowd. I haven’t seen lines to the women’s bathroom so long since Mama Mia! played at the Benedum. I would put the female to male ratio at about 5,000 to one, and the few men in the audience were obviously there under severe duress. This was a night for mid-thirties moms to tell the babysitter not to wait up, and to let loose their inner teenage girl.
But first, Paula Abdul. Let’s just put it out there now: at fifty-five, the woman has still got the moves. I have a lot more nostalgia for “Cold-Hearted Snake,” “Forever Your Girl,” and “Straight Up” than any New Kids song, and Paula didn’t disappoint. She wore a new outfit for every song, and while I’m not completely convinced she was singing live, her impressive dancing was not fake news.
Onto the main event. Boy bands are often criticized, fairly in my view, because they don’t write songs or play instruments. They dance, but not like Paul Abdul. When they do know how to do, is entertain. Especially they know how to entertain the aforementioned crowd of thirty-something women.
More than anything, the show felt like a bachelorette party with 15,000 of your closest friends. The New Kids strutted, thrust, and pulled up their shirts like they were auditioning for Magic Mike XXXXXXXL. I kept feeling like any moment they were going to rip off their pants in one choreographed strip tease that left them clad only in coordinating thongs.
Alas, it never happened. But not for lack of encouragement from the crowd.
Only the staunchest hater could’ve left that arena unentertained. And what more can you ask from forty-plus year old teen pop stars?
And I’ve changed my mind…Donnie is so the best New Kid.