Childhood Dreams Come True: Reviewing NKOTBSB
I can’t believe I’m going to do this, but I have to interrupt the regular flow, or lack of thereof, to describe one of the most notable things that have happened to me as of late: I watched a Backstreet Boys concert.
I’m one of those people that refuses to give up on the Boys even though they aren’t as commercially successful nowadays, and well, they’re not boys anymore. But I’ve loved them ever since I’ve discovered music and vowed that I would one day see them in concert.
When I heard that they’d be coming to Europe as part of their NKOTBSB tour, I was absolutely giddy! Until I realized the tickets and transport costs would be way out of my budget, so I had to given into the reality that my childhood dream would not come true anytime soon.
Then sometime around the end of April, and by complete fluke, I discovered that our local cinema would be offering a live HD stream of the London concert. That’s when I acted on total impulse, something I promised myself never to do after a few disastrous incidents, and booked a ticket.
Simply put, it was an opportunity not be missed.
The cinema wasn’t full but thankfully, I wasn’t the only one there. Most people were around my age or a bit older, probably there for the very same reason I was: getting swept away in the memories of our childhoods and earlier years.
As I was looking around, the theater got darker, and the opening credits came on with Don’t Turn Out The Lights as the background music: it was finally starting!!!
You could hear the audience in London cheering as pictures from the tour rehearsals came on, and I would not be lying when I say that I had a huge grin on my face, as my heart beat in anticipation for what was to come.
Suddenly all focus shifted to center stage, as Can You Feel It played while pictures and names of all 9 members appeared. Never a fan of surprises, I kept shouting that the boys were definitely behind that screen, and no shock there, I was right.
As the crowd erupted into a collective LOUD cheer, Viva La Vida came on, except that they weren’t singing it, as Joey McIntyre launched into NKTOB’s Single, a song that I had never heard but instantly loved. Straight away, AJ McLean took over to sing the first verse of The One, and from then on, it was one glorious, energetic mash-up that should definitely be recorded and released as a single.
You could tell that the performers were as excited to put on the show, as we were to watch it. And at their ages, they put teenagers to shame with how effortlessly they pulled off those dance moves. Definitely a lot of practice and preparation had gone into this.
A side note though: What happened to Nick Carter?! I, like countless girls, used to have the biggest crush on him, and even though he still looks great for 31, something about his hair didn’t really sit well with me throughout the concert.
Time for Summertime, from the New Kids’ comeback album The Block, released in 2008. I had only heard it briefly before and this performance didn’t do anything to make me like it. Not that it was bad, it’s just that there’s only so little room one can have in their hearts for boybands.
Whistles came on as soon as NKOTB finished their song and because I wasn’t paying too much attention, at first I thought it might be Everybody. Nope! Remixed version of The Call, which made this favorite into a very hip-hop, dance sort of track. At least the vocals were still very sharp.
The next song was why some people should never write songs. With allusions to the movie Dirty Dancing, the song of the same name was performed by the New Kids, and I was counting every second till it was done, though it was very catchy, and slightly auto-tuned. So yes, I’ll pass.
Ah Get Down! How many days I’ve spent trying to learn the simple steps! Thankfully, it wasn’t heavily remixed, but as was the case with most songs during this concert, it was cut short, here so the guys could do the shuffle to Party Rock Anthem. Why? I have no idea. Was it fun? Absolutely!
Costume change for the New Kids, because black leather really doesn’t sit with the vibe conveyed by (You’ve Got) The Right Stuff. While I admit to overplaying this song, I have to pause and wonder if Jonathan Knight (dubbed Sparkles because of his choice of wardrobe), Donnie Walhberg, and Joey McIntyre do all the singing. I mean, what are the other two there for? The poor guys didn’t even get enough screen time.
Their dance moves were definitely more suggestive than the Backstreet Boys, but then again, they may have catered to a different market, though I’m surprised at that suggestion.
The music changed and the Backstreet Boys took to the stage too for a little choreographed routine that ended in all nine guys chanting All you people can’t you see, can’t you see, NKOTBSB!!! and saw BSB launching into everyone’s favorite: Larger than Life with an awesome guitar solo, elevated platforms, dancing, and strobe lights! Safe to say that I didn’t want it to end!
But it did, and it was time for New Kids on the Block to perform a set of their most famous ballads, almost all of which have the word girl in their titles. It was also another costume change for the guys, and they came out wearing three piece suits and fedoras and performing a routine very much reminiscent of the Backstreet Boys’ All I Have to Give.
The best part about this whole segment was how Please Don’t Go Girl turned into the Joey McIntyre show at one point, and that high note at the very end, which was exploding with emotion. Goosebumps much!
Continuing along with the theme of ballads and three piece suits, the Backstreet Boys came on in white suits and navy shirts and ties, singing their most tear-inducing song in their entire catalog, Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely. The only bad thing about this was when Howie Dorough took over Kevin Richardson’s verse, and the two men obviously sing at very different vocal levels: it just felt extremely odd!
Just after Howie’s actual verse, the song turned into 10,000 Promises, which I’m surprised anyone else remembers. It was on the European edition of Backstreet’s Back, and remains one of their most heartfelt pieces, so I’m glad they performed it, on that raised platform that they seemed to have abused.
Break time, for some talking and some thank yous, and a random Dutch flag appears. The guys crack some jokes about getting close and intimate with the audience before going on to find four girls to serenade to I’ll Never Break Your Heart. Why they chose to that to One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful, when they plenty of songs to choose from, is beyond me.
Going “Backstreet style” on the end of the song was a nice touch and showed that they could sing in perfect harmony, something that has always been their strong point, even though the getting down on one knee might have been a bit cheesy- but hey, it’s the Backstreet Boys.
I’ll skip over their great performance of Drowning because I absolutely cannot stand that song- there, I said it, there’s a BSB song that I dislike with every fiber of my body (even if I know all the words to). Thankfully, it was a very short and was followed by my favorite song of theirs, Incomplete.
It also saw Nick Carter loosing the jacket and tie, playing a guitar, and belting notes like has never before. You could hear fangirls worldwide rejoicing. But you have got to hand it to AJ McLean who has an amazing texture to his flawless voice. I am so glad he decided to deal with his addiction issues before it was too late.
Back to New Kids again with yet another wardrobe change. I know it was a joint tour, but for those of us who are unfamiliar with their work, it was really hard sitting through another song with girl in it, or the impossibly catchy Tonight. Step by Step was great though, and it’s always great when the audience gets singing. I mean we didn’t spend all our time learning the lyrics to all these songs for no reason. If you know it, flaunt it!
Oh and at one point, Donnie Wahlberg took off his shirt. Cue the fangirls!
Finally, back to the reason why I was there. Cameras pan to the bleachers, as the BSB make their way back to the stage singing Shape of My Heart, remixed and cut short of course to make things more exciting and much more confusing for me. At least Nick got to sing the middle section of the song, one which I’ve long tried to imitate to little success.
Can anyone imagine As Long As You Love Me without the chair routine? Well, that was the case for this concert, though they did all the moves without the chairs! My inner kid, the one that spent hours trying to learn the routine, was VERY disappointed! In addition, All I Have to Give ditched the hat dance and went all Empire State of Mind on us, which is not at all what I was expecting.
But the harmonies were wonderful, and Howie’s little note about how it’s all one big happy family was wonderful.
We’ve Got it Going On was next, mashed up with Can You Feel it, and led to
the dancing shirtless-in-the-rain song Quit Playing Games (With My Heart). And of course, the whole time I was grinning widely, singing along, pointing out what was different from the album versions, and just having the best time that one can have in a movie theater.
Okay, yes, you’ll be loving her forever. Can you take it, the scrunched up faces, and the falsettos somewhere else, please?
Time for the signature song, and the one everyone’s been waiting for all night!
I think I might have cheered a bit too loudly when the first note of I Want It That Way came on, and I have to admit, I was very jealous of everyone in that arena in London at that moment. The audience was signing louder than the band, but in complete perfect harmony, and I think the guys themselves still can’t believe how popular that song is.
But no one is complaining. To me that song has the incredible ability of making me happy even during the toughest of times.
Of course, by now everyone knows the big announcements that they made that night: a new album, Kevin’s return, AJ’s wife being pregnant, and a possibility of another NKOTBSB tour. I was giddy at the sound of all of those, but especially the new album. There’s only so many times you could play all their other albums, and after five years without Kevin, his return will be a breath of fresh air for the group.
Everyone went on stage to perform the all important duo-single Don’t Turn Out the Lights, then the Backstreet Boys did yet another remix of a classic. This time it was Everybody with a tinge of Back in Black, but hey, they were having fun, and we were surely enjoying it, so why not?!
To end the concert, the New Kids came out and did Hanging Tough, then both bands mashed up the last two songs, while wearing London and England jerseys and waving the Union Jack, and just like that, the concert I had been waiting to see for at least 12 years was over.
Overall, a great night! I think I would’ve preferred to see the Backstreet Boys without the New Kids on the Block, but I’m not really complaining. I’m definitely happy I went, and even more so in light of their wonderful announcements.
So yay for childhood dreams coming true!