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NKOTBSB by Michelle Tymon (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

July 27, 2011 by  



Article and concert photos by: Michelle Tymon

Screams of women in their twenties and thirties (as well as some teenagers) can be heard all across North America right now as NKOTBSB hits 48 cities in 53 dates on their huge North American tour across the US and Canada.  The tour started on May 25th 2011 in Rosemont, IL and is scheduled to wrap up on August 7th 2011 in London, Ontario, Canada.  I personally went to the sold out show on July 8th 2011 in Tacoma, WA and NKOTB and BSB fans alike were able to relive their precious memories from ten and even twenty years ago.

For those who may not know what NKOTBSB is, it is the boy band supergroup combining the biggest boy band from the ’80s, the New Kids on the Block (NKOTB), and one of the biggest boy bands of the 90’s and early 2000’s, the Backstreet Boys (BSB).  Both groups experienced quite a bit of success back in the day and were able to relive it through this tour.  Even though the Backstreet Boys never broke up, the New Kids on the Block broke up in 1994 and members pursued their own careers for a while.

The New Kids on the Block were the biggest thing in the US in the late ’80’s and early ’90s.  They were not the first boy band around however they were pretty much the first ones to be formed with the “boy band formula” in mind (In which you have the cute one, the quiet one, the rebellious one and at least two of them related if possible).

In the mid 90’s, their popularity started to fade and Jonathan Knight left the group due to panic attacks and anxiety issues, resulting in the rest of the group to disband as well.  Around 1999 and 2000, both Jordan Knight and Joey McIntyre had best selling singles due to boy bands and pop music making a huge come back around that time.  Donnie Wahlberg, like his younger brother Mark Wahlberg, had made a name for himself as an accomplished actor since the 90’s, acting in movies like “Ransom”, “The Sixth Sense”, three of the “Saw” movies (Saw II-IV), and TV series like “Boomtown” and most recently as the lead role in the CBS police drama, “Blue Bloods”.

Over the years, there were numerous attempts at getting the group back together but finally in 2008, the boy band reunited and released a new album called “The Block” and had the popular singles, “Summertime”, as well as “Single”, which was written and featured R&B singer Ne-Yo.  The album itself had many huge collaborators including Ne-Yo, Akon, The Pussycat Dolls, New Edition, and Lady Gaga who also opened for them on that tour.  Since then, each member continues their own careers while also working with the group.

 

 

The Backstreet Boys hit it big in Europe before they were big in their home, the US.  They finally started getting recognized at home in the late 90’s with singles like “As Long as You Love Me” and “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”, but they blew up with their single “I Want it That Way” from their biggest selling album, “Millennium”.  A very big and successful tour went with that album and soon after they followed up with their next album, “Black and Blue”, which did very well and they led the pop revolution at the time with *NSYNC, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera.

The Backstreet Boys have each pursued personal endeavors while still being together as a group but did hit some hard times along the way.  In 2001, AJ McLean was admitted into rehab for drug and alcohol abuse, which caused rescheduling and cancellations of dates on their huge “Black and Blue” tour.  In 2002, Nick Carter released his first solo album, “Now or Never” and for the next three years, the Boys took a slight hiatus to do various things.  In 2005, they released their last studio album with all five members called “Never Gone”.

In 2006, Kevin Richardson left the group to pursue other endeavors but has come back on occasion to perform with the other four, last year on Oprah for one of their super fans and most recently, he made an appearance at the Staples Center NKOTBSB show in LA and performed “I Want it That Way” with the other four members.  Since Kevin’s departure, they released two albums “Unbreakable” and “This is Us”.  Brian Littrell released a solo album in 2006 called “Welcome Home”, AJ McLean released a solo album in Japan called “Have it All” in 2010, Nick Carter released a second solo album called “I’m Taking Off” which was released first in Japan and later in the US in 2011, and Howie D. is releasing his own solo album in 2011 as well.

 

 

In 2010, there were rumors that the two groups were possibly planning to work together, especially when the Backstreet Boys showed up at NKOTB’s last show of their 2010 tour while they performed “I Want it That Way”.  The rumors were confirmed shortly before the American Music Awards where they first performed together for the first time and performed a medley of hit songs from both groups. They next performed at the Rockin’ New Year’s Eve and announced on the Ryan Seacrest show that they would be touring in 2011.  In April 2011, they released their first single together called “Don’t Turn Out the Lights” and did a few more TV performances together on “Dancing with the Stars” and the “Today Show”, performing that single.

Their tour kicked off in May 25, 2011 and since the tour started, they have had a handful of opening acts including Ashlyne Huff, Jordin Sparks, Midnight Red, Neverest, and even Matthew Morrison from the TV show “Glee”.  Tickets for the show definitely were not cheap ($100+ for most of the seats), but at the same time it wasn’t a bad price considering the set was very long and the crowd was technically seeing two different headliners.  After seeing the show personally, I definitely had no regrets with the ticket costs.

 

Set List:

Medley: “Single” / “The One”
“Summertime”
“The Call
“Dirty Dancing”
“Get Down (You’re the One for Me)”
“You Got It (The Right Stuff)”
“Larger Than Life”
“Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”
“Valentine Girl”
“If You Go Away”
“Please Don’t Go Girl”
“Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely”
“10,000 Promises”
“I’ll Never Break Your Heart”
“Inconsolable”
“Drowning”
“Incomplete”
“Step By Step”
“Cover Girl”
“My Favorite Girl”
“Games”
“Click Click Click”
“Tonight”
“Shape of My Heart”
“As Long As You Love Me”
“All I Have to Give”
“If You Stay”
“Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)”
“I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)”
“I Want It That Way”
“Don’t Turn Out the Lights”
Encore
“Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”
“Hangin’ Tough”
Medley: “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” / “Hangin’ Tough” (Reprise)

Both groups seem to understand that the opening of the show can set how excited the crowd will be for the rest of the show.  The concert starts with huge images of the nine guys being projected onto a huge white curtain in the middle of the main stage.  The curtain drops and the nine are standing on an elevated part of the stage.  The stage slowly lowers and they open their show with a mash-up of their singles, “Single” and “The One” remixed together with elements from “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay.

 

One of my biggest surprises was how well they made use of the stage setup.  The stage was set up with a main stage, a catwalk, and then another stage at the end of the cat walk.  It’s not the first time I’ve been to a show that had a catwalk and or a second stage, but usually most of the performance tends to stay on the main stage up front.  From their first song, they started making their way down the catwalk and interacting with the fans, walking and dancing across constantly and performing on both stages and the catwalk equally.

After the first song, they separated into group performances alternating back and forth.  NKOTB started off with “Summertime” and BSB started off with “The Call”.  In the middle of the show as well as at the end of the show, they came back together to perform together as one big unit.  The balance of slow and fast songs for both groups seemed pretty equal and despite their ages (averaging from the mid thirties to early forties) both groups danced quite a bit.  The song selections for both groups revolved around all their biggest hits like “Please Don’t Go Girl” and “Hangin’ Tough” by NKOTB and BSB sang songs like “I Want it That Way” and “As Long as You Love Me”.

 

While NKOTB’s songs were mostly regularly performed songs, the BSB performed a couple of rare songs.  They performed “Get Down (You’re the One For Me)” from their first album and performed the dance on the circular second stage which was probably nostalgic and fun for fans who remember the music video.  Possibly the biggest surprise for BSB fans was the fact that they sang “10,000 Promises”, as it was a song released on their second international album, “Backstreet’s Back” and was never released in the US, but was still a huge fan favorite.  Though it is possible to see them perform this song live on a couple of their DVDs, this was the first time they performed it live on tour in the US and fans definitely enjoyed it.  NKOTB kept their song selection pretty mixed with old and new songs, while BSB concentrated much more on their older songs and didn’t perform any songs from their newest album from 2009.

Even though a lot of their dances can be considered rather dated now, the New Kids performed a lot of their original dance steps which fans still seemed to love and danced along.  Of course they did update some of their old dance moves as well as perform much more modern choreography for all of their new songs.  The Backstreet Boys did the same and kept much of their old choreography, but added a new twist to keep things a little new.

 

The Backstreet Boys haven’t changed too much other than the fact that they are now a quartet rather than a quintet.  I first saw them back in 1998 at Key Arena in Seattle and ever since then, I’ve been a fan.  I’ve gone to each tour that followed and watched the group grow, and even had to chance to meet all of the guys at least once.

As much as I really do appreciate their music, dancing and performances, I think the factor that solidified my adoration for them was the fact that every personal encounter I had with them was a positive one.  Both groups understand that the biggest reason they’re still performing to such big crowds is the fact that their fans from years ago still adore them and neither group seems to take that for granted.

Brian is always joking around, making silly faces and constantly waving to people in the crowd.  Howie is charming his fans with his smile and his Latin charm.  AJ McLean is forever the bad boy, gaining at least one more tattoo every single time I see him and is still my favorite.  Nick Carter still has that baby face and cuteness that gained him so many fans over ten years ago; he just looks a little older now and since he is the youngest out of the nine, he definitely had the most energy throughout the show.

I was never that big of a fan of New Kids (however that seems to be changing gradually after this show).  I was about eight when I first heard them and I really liked them for a short while, until I got into grunge and heavy metal music.  Shortly after that, they broke up.  It’s entertaining to hear the song “Please Don’t Go Girl” because there’s such a noticeable difference from the original song and it being sung now by Joey McIntyre because he’s very much an adult now and doesn’t have such a high pitched voice anymore.  Jonathan Knight didn’t talk at all during the show, but he performed all out.

Seeing him live in person, it would be hard to imagine that he has any anxiety issues.  Jordan still hasn’t lost his touch and could still sing all his falsetto parts.  Danny was very… muscular.  As he and Jonathan don’t sing that much, honestly the first thing that is most memorable about him for me was the fact that he is ridiculously fit.  Donnie kept the crowd hyped up constantly throughout the show, whether it was getting the crowd to sing along or providing fan service.

 

Fan service is a given at boy band shows… and NKOTB definitely had plenty of that, overall probably much more than BSB.   They performed suggestive songs,  performed suggestive moves, and Donnie Wahlberg tore off his shirt at one point in the show and walked around for a while shirtless (this was very effective in getting the crowd hyped up).  All of which of course was welcomed by happy screams throughout the venue.  Eye candy is definitely a big part of these shows, but thankfully it’s not the only factor.  Despite the negative views they may get, all of them are very talented vocalists who also know how to entertain a crowd.

One of the biggest things that was noticeable in their show is how big fan interaction was to both groups.  As I mentioned earlier, there was a main stage, a catwalk, and a second stage at the end of the catwalk.  Both stages also had the ability to rise up about 6-8 feet so the fans higher up could see them.  Jumbo tron screens were also at the shows so no matter where people were sitting, they could see what was going on. There was not a bad seat on the floor as they made sure to move back and forth constantly starting from the first song throughout the show.

 


Not wanting to leave out the fans who were in the risers, NKOTB went up into the crowds from the catwalk all the way up to the top of the risers.  Backstreet Boys did the opposite and made their way down from the risers back down to the catwalk and at our show, Brian Littrell got lost in the crowd for a while and was not able to return on time.  Both groups made sure to shake hands with fans, take photos, and give out hugs all the way through their way into the crowds (all this while still singing).  This takes a lot of guts; both groups threw themselves into a crowd of women who have been dying to get close to them, even now.

Yet they still did it and so far there seems to have been only a few injuries and mishaps.  Another part of the fan interaction was when the Backstreet Boys each selected an audience member to be serenaded to personally during the song “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” on the catwalk.

Not keeping the shows completely routine, they have been adding random surprises throughout various dates of the shows.  As  mentioned earlier, Kevin Richardson showed up at the Staples Center show on July 1st, Howie D’s baby made an appearance on stage at my show in Tacoma, and most recently and possibly the biggest surprise yet, Boyz II Men performed with NKOTBSB at Backstreet’s homecoming show in Orlando, July 22nd.

During the group member introductions, Backstreet members introduced their NKOTB counterparts and vice versa.  I think the fan interaction as well as the interaction between the two groups made a lot of BSB fans into NKOTB fans as well as NKOTB fans into BSB fans.  Of course there are people who are fans of both but there were definitely people there who were die-hard fans of one group over the other.  I was expecting there to be much more of a division in fans, but all throughout the show, no matter what group was performing, everyone was up out of their seats having fun.

 

The show leads into it’s finale as they perform the single, “Don’t Turn Out the Lights” together.  Both groups come back out one last time for their encore of “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” and “Hangin’ Tough” and then finally they end the show with a mash-up of those two songs.  By the end of the show, fans are left with feelings of excitement, happiness and probably wishing the show didn’t end.

Nostalgia and something new, fans get to enjoy the best of both worlds in this unforgettable concert.  It’s definitely a night fans will not forget and considering how well the tour is going, the two groups might want to consider further collaborations with each other.  Maybe a full length album and hopefully another tour?  Even though that might prove difficult because all nine of them have their own personal careers as well as group projects but it’s something I, as well as many, many other fans hope they will consider.

Another nice touch even after the show is over, is the fact that members of both groups are very active on Twitter and constantly posting tidbits from each show, as well as videos and photos.  Out of both group combined, the one that tweets the most is probably Donnie Wahlberg.  He not only tweets the most, but follows over 3,000 people and is constantly replying to his fans.  Interactions like this are greatly appreciated and also helps with gaining more fans.

 

So what were the cons of the show?  Honestly, I don’t have much to rant about.  The show was a bit pricey, but I thought it was well worth the price after seeing the show.  The cheesiness factor of the old boy band songs and cheesy choreography can be negative… but most of the people going to these shows are going to specifically see that and that makes them happy.

I believe that music can help with expressing various emotions.  The biggest reason fans go to concerts like this is to have fun, be entertained, and be happy.  I believe that most, if not everyone who went to the show, left feeling that.  I certainly did.

No matter what, there will always be some negativity surrounding “boy bands” and manufactured groups.  But each time I go to shows like this, I’m reminded that they are all very talented vocalists, dancers, and performers.

There was no lip synching involved; they all sang live (even made a couple of small mistakes), they had a live band, they danced, they interacted with fans throughout the show… and they had fun.  They know how to put on a great show and fans leave the show extremely happy.

Despite the negative stigma put on pop music and boy bands, I personally don’t see anything wrong with shows like this after seeing thousands of people having so much fun and being so happy to see groups they grew up with live again.

My expectations for the show were not exactly low, but this concert far exceeded my expectations.  I went in expecting only to have fun during BSB’s set, however I had fun throughout the show.  Seeing that fans of both groups could have fun throughout the show no matter who was performing, I thought really said a lot for both groups.

This show is easily one of the best shows I have ever been to (and I go to a number of shows in a year, genres ranging from pop to metal) and I highly regret only being able to go to one show.

This tour truly shows that both groups, even after being around for fifteen or more years, have what it takes to keep going.  I wish both groups the best and I can’t wait to see them again.

For more photos from the NKOTBSB show in Tacoma, WA 7/8/11, click here for my flickr set from the show.






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