NKOTBSB Live: Still Bringing the ‘Right Stuff’

NKOTBSB Live: Still Bringing the ‘Right Stuff’

Two generations of boy bands, plus a ‘Glee’ chaser

By Lie Shia Ong
MSN Music

Every generation has its musical guilty pleasure, and for me, it was boy bands. During my high school years, sons from *NSYNC, 98 Degrees and the Backstreet Boys dominated radio play, and for me that was just fine, because I loved their music, tried to emulate their dance moves, and like many other teenage girls my age, swooned over their good looks.

So, even though I’m almost 30, when I heard that NKOTBSB—New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys—two of the biggest boy bands ever, were going on tour together this year, I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see them perform. Once tour dates were announced, I was excited to see that NKOTBSB would be playing at a venue closer to where I live—at the Tacoma Dome—on July 8.

As coincidence would have it, the night would end up being a big one for several generations of boy band fans. While the New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys were performing at the Tacoma Dome, the Monkees were also in town, performing at the Pantages Theater only about a mile away!

Once I arrived at the Tacoma Dome, memories of seeing the Backstreet Boys live at the same venue years ago, when their popularity was at its peak, came flashing back. But this time, things were a little different. The show wasn’t sold out (back in the day, BSB tickets sold out in mere minutes). IN fact, Groupon had offered a deal for discounted NKOTBSB tickets one week earlier.

It was also apparent I wasn’t the only fan who had done some growing up. The crowd was noticeably older. Mostly women, and they didn’t look like moms with their kids. There weren’t a lot of guys.

I was surprised there weren’t more tweens at the show, since one of the opening acts was Matthew Morrison (Mr. Schuester) from the hit show “Glee.” As a Gleek myself, it was an added bonus Mr. Schue was part of this leg of the tour.

After a very brief set from the group Midnight Red, Morrison opened with two songs he’s sung on “Glee.” His version of “Sway” and his cover of the Police song “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.” Then he sang some original songs off his first solo album, including, “Summer Rain” and “Hey.” His set also included covers of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” and Kanye West and Jamie Foxx’s “Gold Digger” (which was also featured on “Glee”). Morrison’s musical talent (he played the ukulele and some tambourines) and Broadway background were evident, and he received a warm reception from the crowd, but as his set came an end, you could feel the anticipation building for who the crowd obviously came to see: NKOTBSB!

A little more than 30 minutes later, the house lights went down, and as the stage lights started to flash faster and faster, the screams got louder and louder, and just when I didn’t think it could get any more deafening, the curtain onstage was ripped away, revealing the New Kids on the Block and BSB together.

Suddenly I was transported back to being a teenage groupie along with the rest of the crowd. We knew all the words, and we sand along with every song. We screamed when the told us to. We dance with them so much that the stands of the Tacoma Dome shook. We held up our lit-up cellphones during their slow songs, and we waved at them just because it looked like they were looking in our general direction.

Granted, they’ve long outgrown adolescence and respective “retirements” from the spotlight, but these two groups can still sing and dance, bringing a crowd of people to their feet and keeping them there. Each group sang their hit songs. BSB performed “Quit Playing Games {With My Heart),” “As Long as You Love Me,” “I Want it That Way” and “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).” NKOTB sand “Hangin’ Tough,” “Step by Step” and “You Got it (The Right Stuff).”

NKOTB still have their five main members—brothers Jordan and Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood—while Backstreet Boys retain four of their five original members in Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough, A.J. McLean and Nick Carter. (Kevin Richardson isn’t with the group anymore, although he made a surprise guest appearance at NKOTBSB’s recent concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles).

If you looked closely, you realized they all looked a little bit older, too, just like us fans. (Wood and Wahlberg are the older of them all, each at 42), but as A.J. McLean put it, “These guys have been doing this for 24 years, and we’ve been doing this for 18 … and they’re going to keep at it for another 24 years, and we will, too, for at least another 18!”

Joey McIntyre added, “Every time we come to Tacoma, it’s a party, and we realize there are two generations here tonight. And for a lot of us, it feels like 1989, and for a lot of us, it feels like 1999!”

So even after all these years, one thing remains the same: Once a boy band fan, still a boy band fan. And being transported back to my high school days for one night was worth it – even if my ears were ringing longer than what I remember from back in the day.

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