New Kids on the Block
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Special guests: Nelly and TLC
The Main Event Tour
Songs performed: E.I., Where the Party At, Shake Ya Tail Feather/Pimp Juice/Air Force Ones, Country Grammar, Errtime/Dilemma, Just a Dream, Ride Wit Me, Billie Jean, Grillz, Hot in Herre (Nelly); What About Your Friends, Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg, Baby Baby Baby, Creep, Diggin’ on You, Unpretty, Red Light Special, No Scrubs, Meant to Be, Waterfalls (TLC); Block Party, Crash, My Favorite Girl, You Got It (The Right Stuff), The Whisper/Single/Shout, Let’s Try It Again, We Own Tonight, Didn’t I Blow You Mind/Valentine Girl/If You Go Away/Please Don’t Go Girl, Remix (I Like the), Summertime, Dirty Dancing, Just a Friend/Good Vibrations/California Love, Tonight, Baby I Believe in You/Give It to You, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)/Twisted, I Need You/Lean on Me/Cover Girl, Games, Step by Step, I’ll Be Loving You (Forever), Hangin’ Tough/We Will Rock You (NKOTB)
The New Kids on the Block brought their latest tour to the Los Angeles area last week. This is the 4th major tour since the group got back together in 2008 (by themselves, with Backstreet Boys, with 98 Degrees & Boyz II Men, and this one). This one is being billed as “The Main Event” and features Nelly and TLC as opening acts performing hit after hit as the ad says.
So how does a group that has been around for almost 30 years now, keep their audience interested? Up the sexiness, and put on high-energy shows that showcase what seasoned performers they are. You know you are going to have a good time. And the guys work hard to make sure you leave happy.
I first saw this group back in 1989 at the same venue on their Hangin’ Tough tour. This was during their heyday. I remember we saw a matinee performance as they had a performance at night that day too. I had been dating my partner for about 11 months at that point, and he liked them too. Flash forward to today, we are still together and NKOTB are together again (with one openly gay member at that!).
This is the first time that I have seen them perform in the round. There was one major stage in the center that looked like a boxing ring without the ropes, with 2 smaller stages off to each side. There were 4 video screens above the center stage, for optimal viewing from all angles.
A scantily clad female came out holding up a sign that read “Round 1”. First up, was Nelly, the rapper from St. Louis, Missouri. He was joined by 4 booty shaking dancing girls and 2 fellow MCs. Compared to the other 2 acts, I was less familiar with his songs. The crowd was really into his set and sang and danced along. I knew the bigger pop leaning hits like “Where the Party At (w/ Jagged Edge), “Ride Wit Me,” “Just a Dream” and “Hot in Herre.” He didn’t sing “Over and Over” — his duet with Tim McGraw. I was hoping he would do it with NKOTB. His voice seemed a little rough, but his energy pulled him through.
Time for “Round 2”. A man came out and served as the Master of Ceremonies for TLC, the ground breaking R&B, hip-hop act from Atlanta, Georgia. This was the first major tour since the death of Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes in 2002. Their backup dancers carried 3 giant fans, and they spread them out to create a dramatic covering for the singers and dancers as their set started. Tionne ‘T-Boz’ Watkins and Rozonda ‘Chili’ Thomas proved that the show truly does go on. They performed hit after hit — from the opening song “What About Your Friends” to the finale of “Waterfalls.” They were dressed in colorful graffiti-inspired outfits with metallic accents. Left Eye’s vocals played where you expected to hear them, including during “Waterfalls” which was dedicated to her. The words for her rap were shown on the screen for the audience to sing along with. They performed one new song “Meant to Be” from the VH1 movie, as images of the group through the years played on the video screens.
After a short break and a solo video from New Kid Danny Wood’s upcoming solo album, the group was shown on the video screens from backstage explaining that Jonathon Knight would not perform tonight (nothing was said other than he had an accident, but was fine. Turns out he broke his nose falling on the tour bus). Time for Round 3, the Main Event. They even got the famous announcer, Michael Buffer (Let’s Get Ready to Rumble), to appear and give them an introduction. They each came on stage in boxing robes as they took the stage one by one.
The opening song was “Block Party” a bonus song from their 2013 album “10”. The guys were all dressed in black and white. The stage had 10 squares on it which served as moving platforms during the show. So at times, there were 5 rows of 2, and at other times, all 10 squares moved separately. Madonna used something similar during her last tour. There were also elevated platforms on the side stages at the ends. The band was off to the side of one of the smaller stages.
During the costume changes, there were cameras in the dressing room, so we could see our favorite guys as they undressed and changed outfits. It was all very PG despite the warnings that flashed on the screen.
The guys went through some of their hits as the year the song came out flashed on the screen. Joey even commented on “Please Don’t Go Girl.” He said, “I’ve been singing this song for 27 years… 27 fucking years!” And then he lead the audience along saying he would be singing it for 5, 10 or even 27 more years God willing.
Joey, Jordan and Donnie all took solo time in the spotlight. Donnie sang a couple of New Kids songs (I Need You (who knew he could play piano?), Cover Girl, plus some of Lean on Me); Jordan sang “Baby I Believe in You” with his shirt open, combined with his solo hit “Give It to You.” Joey had the most dramatic and showy solo moment, as he danced and sang a mashup of Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams” and NKOTB’s “Twisted” with his shirt off and barefoot. He made full use of all the moving platforms on the stage.
There was plenty of confetti, fireworks, and streamers during the 2.25 hour show. The guys definitely know how to keep the energy up. It was obvious though that some people just came for the opening acts, then left after they were over.
It was good to hear “Games” again… mixed with ‘This is How We Do It” (by Montell Jordan). That was their answer song to their critics back in the day. Joey brought out his young son, and he sang the intro to ‘Tonight” before the guys headed out into the audience for the song as they have done on previous tours. I was lucky enough to hi-five a few of them on “The Block” tour.
“Hangin’ Tough” closed out the evening. Jonathon Knight even came out at the end and took bows with the rest of the guys. It was a fitting close to “The Main Event.”
Thanks to all for another fun concert. See you on the next tour.
KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.