Well, my fellow Yinzers, it’s official. I have seen the same group live in concert in both the 80s and the roaring 20-teens (if someone knows what we’re supposed to be calling this decade, please inform me, because I’m lost). I am not sure if this makes me old, or makes them cool, or makes us all old, or some combination thereof.
The New Kids were my first official concert, way back in December 1989. I had the flu something fierce, but I refused to miss the show. Later today, I’m hoping to dig up the photo of us tough second-graders at my parents house, so you can see my snap-on rhinestone glory. I also bought a big button at that show (does anyone else remember those big buttons? like monster-sized?).
My husband was a little less than thrilled about going to this show, so we had a few rounds of drinks with dinner to kind of calm our nerves. It turns out that I really needed them as much as he did, as it was total estrogen overload at the concert. The Consol Energy Center turned all but one men’s room into extra women’s rooms to accommodate the massive number of ladies that turned out for this thing. (Thankfully for Michael, that single men’s room was just behind our seating area!)
Jordin Sparks was the opener, and we thought we didn’t know anything about her. Turns out, I guess she was on American Idol (which we never watch, as we are fiercely loyal to Dancing with the Stars), and she’s had a number of hit songs on the radio that I always thought belonged to someone else.
Well, I don’t know if it was the booze, or the feeling of Total Girl Power in the arena, but I suddenly became big-sister-like protective of Jordin Sparks. They threw this poor girl out on the stage by herself with only two backup dancers (who both looked like Kevin Federline and weren’t even present for every song), no lighting, and virtually no stage setup.
So I started going on and on about how they were wasting her talent, and they should bring in a good choreographer to give her some better dance moves, and I was going to write her manager a letter about all of this to let him know he was not properly showcasing his upcoming star.
It might have been the booze, but I felt inclined to yell things like, “GET IT!” and “YOU GO GIRL” after Jordin Sparks finished songs, just to let her know that she didn’t have to let The Man keep her down.
I think Michael was mildly relieved when her set finished so that I could just anticipate the boy bands instead of rambling on about how Beyonce would never have been allowed on stage without strong female backup dancers.
Here we are at our seats. You will notice there is a guy behind us, and other than him and my husband, there were no men in sight in our whole section. It’s days like this, I wish I had girlfriends who love aging boy bands!
(Not entirely true – my husband was a real trooper, and I gave him Husband of the Day award for being a good sport. I mean, even with all of his rude comments like, “Is this concert being sponsored by Geocities? Can I meet up with the other guys for a Pog tournament at intermission?” he still did pretty well.)
Finally, after much anticipation, it was time. Both the New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys were on stage, at once, and the cheers from the crowd were deafening. We literally could almost not hear the music for the first few minutes. (Oddly enough, they opened with the Coldplay song “Viva La Vida” instead of anything original.)
After the first full-group song, they started breaking into NKOTB or BSB sections, for one or two songs.
Oh. Just in case you’re like my husband, and have no idea who all of these guys are, I will take a moment to explain.
New Kids on the Block are from Boston and there are five members: Joey McIntyre (the youngest, who was like 15 back in the 80s, and we all loved him because he was closest to our age), the brothers Jon and Jordan Knight (Jon was rather nondescript, but Jordan was a fan favorite of the older girls in the 80s, kind of like, if NKOTB were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Jordan would be Leonardo), Danny Wood (who is aging in a strange way where he is really in shape, but looks like he probably got that in shape from lifting weights daily in jail), and of course, Donnie Wahlberg (brother to the famous Marky Mark, and the one who handled all the rap lines, particularly in that holiday classic, “Funky Funky Christmas”).
The Backstreet Boys (from Orlando) were one of the boy bands that popped up in the late 90s along with NSYNC, 98 Degrees, and O-Town. There are four members of BSB: Brian (the ‘sweet’ one, who was always my favorite, who was the kind of guy you could imagine taking to Thanksgiving dinner), Nick (the youngest one, who also had a brother, Aaron, in some other boy band), AJ (the ‘bad boy’, who is in and out of rehab, but always a fun performer), and Howie (who I know virtually nothing about, my bad!). There was formerly a fifth member named Kevin, but he has obviously gone on to bigger and better things (like missing out on the NKOTBSB tour, loser!!!).
Amazingly, it was pretty easy to tell who everyone was, even though I swear I haven’t seen some of these guys in decades.
And I admit, I was a little skeptical of how this night was going to go, despite the realization we had last summer at the DMB show in Ohio that guys in their 40s are apparently now my Gold Standard for attractiveness (thanks Dave and Boyd, you guys suck).
BUT THEN NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK DID “THE RIGHT STUFF” WITH ALL THE ORIGINAL DANCE MOVES FROM THE MUSIC VIDEO!!!!!!!!!!
Zero to fangirl in one string of “oh oh oh oh oh.”
And Joey got super emotional and we thought he was going to cry, once it went into “Please Don’t Go Girl.” In his mind, he was still at Coney Island, losing his summer love!!
And then, just when you thought things were slowing down… IT WAS TIME FOR NKOTB TO TEAR THE ROOF OFF WITH “STEP BY STEP”!!!!!!!! (Also complete with original dance moves.)
The final slow section was my favorite NKOTB ballad, “I’ll Be Loving You Forever.” I swear to you, in 1989, I was convinced that Joey McIntyre was pointing right at me during this song. Our seats at the Civic Arena were sooooo far away we had to use binoculars to be able to tell the group apart on stage, but I was certain. Pointing right at me. (I know this to be true, because it is recorded in the diary with the little silver lock that I got at my Chuck-E Cheese birthday party that October. Alas, history did not repeat itself. Joey must know I’m married. ::tear::)
After performing their new full-group song, “Don’t Turn Out the Lights,” they did the ‘encore’ presentations of the two greatest NKOTB and BSB songs of all time.
BSB started it out with “Everybody,” which has one of the best music videos of 1997, where they all dressed up like horror movie characters and danced around in costume. Since they couldn’t recreate those faboo costumes, AJ had to wear a sparkly Bettis jersey, which in Pittsburgh is even better.
I guess the last time the New Kids were in Pittsburgh was June 12, 2009. In case you lived under a rock in 2009, that’s the day the Penguins won their third Stanley Cup. NKOTB was performing while we were winning game 7 against the Red Wings. Donnie got on the microphone and announced that during last night’s show, their hometown hockey team, the Boston Bruins, were winning game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks, so he thanked us for returning the favor for them. 🙂
All in all, a fun night. Sure, they’re no Dave Matthews Band (that’s next week, woohoo!), but NKOTBSB put on quite a good show for some old guys doing 80s dance moves! And my husband survived, and really, what more can you ask for from an aging boy band conglomerate?