In the movie Fever Pitch, during an argument following the only Red Sox game he did not attend in 23 years, Jimmy Fallon’s character said to Drew Barrymore’s character: “Do you still care about anything you cared about 23 years ago? How about ten? How about five? Name me a single thing that you’ve cared about for 23 years.”
This quote came to mind after I recently attended my 4th New Kids on the Block concert in 4 years. I never was lucky enough to see them in concert as a child, so the fact that I’ve seen them so much in such a short period of time suggests I’m trying to make up for lost time. Or maybe I’m hanging onto my childhood by a thread—the same way I honestly think the majority of my fellow concertgoers were.
Most of the attendees were my age (give or take 5 years in either direction). Many were clad in neon clothing or oversized buttons depicting their favorite New Kids that they’ve treasured for more than two decades, whereas I had simply dug through my drawers and pulled on the first non-baby-related-stained shirt I could find to wear on my first night out in months.
But anyway… the reason the Fever Pitch quote popped into my head is that I have loved the New Kids on the Block not for 23 years…but for 25 years. After consulting my calculator, that is approximately 80% of my life. I can’t think of anything (except, perhaps for the Red Sox, like Jimmy Fallon’s character but NOT Jimmy Fallon himself) that I’ve loved for that long.
I knew it had been a long time but the actual number of years I’ve loved them became scarily apparent when Joey McIntyre paused while belting out “Please Don’t go Girl” (as beautifully as he had before he hit puberty!) and mentioned that it had been 25 years since he had gotten together with the other members of the band. I was shocked that it had been that long. Throughout the rest of the tune, while listening and swaying back and forth in the awkward way only a white girl from Maine can, I reminisced about the last 25 years and remembered how much the New Kids on the Block impacted my life! Before I get too much into detail about the New Kids’ performance itself, I must discuss the two opening acts.
New Kids on the Block were touring with Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees. The name of the tour, amusingly enough, was “The Package.” I attended the concert with a dear friend from law school, and when we bought the tickets several months ago, her boyfriend referred to it as “the BIG Package tour”, a name that we quickly adopted ourselves.
Boyz II Men was the first group to take the stage, with 3 of the 4 original members. They were, to put it simply, amazing. Their voices were beautiful, the harmonies were perfect, and it seemed to me that no time had passed from many years ago when I first heard them. Now their dancing skills left a little to be desired—but they did break into the running man during their closing song which was, naturally, “Motown Philly.” Who doesn’t love the running man!?!?!
The most chilling moment during Boyz II Men’s act was when they requested a moment of silence for Boston. Now anyone who knows anything about the city of Boston or anyone from the city knows that Bostonians have a hell of a time keeping quiet. But in that vast arena where the Celtics and Bruins play, you could hear a pin drop. The members of Boyz II Men were a class act by making a tribute to the place most people in the region of New England agree is the best damn place in the world.
Ask anyone—ANYONE—in the 6 states of New England and they will tell you that Boston is THEIR city and they won’t put up with anyone or anything fucking with it. Immediately after the moment of silence concluded, Boyz II Men broke into “It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” Perfect song to commemorate the victims of the Boston marathon bombings almost 2 months ago. I can’t say enough good things about Boyz II Men—it was seriously as if their voices had never even changed. I must say it would’ve been nice if all 4 members had been present, but hey, you can’t have everything, right?
98 Degrees came on after Boyz II Men. 98 Degrees was never my favorite boy band. They were popular around the same time as N’Sync and seriously—who would ever pick the Lachey brothers over Justin Timberlake? I used 98 Degrees’ set to make notes on my phone for this entry and to brave the very long bathroom line.
Now, as you can probably imagine, there were thousands of women at this concert and not a lot of men—a few significant others here and there and a few hardcore gay men who have loved Donnie Wahlberg for as long as I have. So, the staff of the Boston arena decided it was socially acceptable in this situation for all the females to have access to the men’s restrooms, which moved things along more quickly than if they hadn’t allowed women access to the men’s areas. I made some friends in the bathroom line, which was inevitable—after all, it’s a special kind of person to attend a concert of New Kids on the Block, 25 years after they were actually “kids.”
I sort of half-listened to 98 Degrees through the doors and I was nonplussed. I enjoyed hearing the few songs I knew by the group, (Because of You is my favorite of the few I know) and yes I will admit that Nick Lachey looked smoking hot. But their performance overall didn’t leave much of an impression on me. The one part of their performance that stuck with me was when they asked the crowd if we remembered “TRL” on MTV…how could TRL be forgotten? I long for the days of TRL in the age of Teen Mom and Jersey Shore crowding MTV’s airspace.
When 98 Degrees finally finished, of course there was a break prior to the headlining New Kids taking the stage. I used this break to text my husband and check in on my daughter, who, by the way, is only 14 months old but I would’ve done anything to have her with me at this show! The woman behind us had her daughter with her who looked to be about 10 years old and all I could think about was how much I would LOVE to bring my own little girl to see the guys I grew up loving. But you know, one day I just may be able to do that, because it doesn’t seem like the New Kids are hanging up their sequined Sox jerseys anytime soon…
After a very brief break, the lights went out and on came the New Kids! Their opening number was a song from their newest album and they went on to play for TWO HOURS STRAIGHT! That was the longest they’ve played without stopping in all the times I’ve seen them. They played several new songs and then launched into a medley of their older tunes. Obviously some people come to hear the classics they grew up with—not everyone keeps up with the New Kids and their albums released this century!
My concert buddy and I were totally judging the women next to us, because they didn’t know any of the new songs. But maybe my friend and I were the totally whacko ones—we sang along with all the songs, new and old. In addition to their own songs, the New Kids paid tribute to Prince, Queen, Nelly, George Michael and the Isley Brothers. My friend and I were both horrified at Jordan Knight’s ability to do an AMAZING impression of Prince—she and I simultaneously looked at each other and said “he’s way too good at that!”
As you can imagine, since the members of the New Kids on the Block are from Boston, several times, they made their hometown pride quite clear. Donnie (my favorite New Kid since 1987!!!!!) shouted things like “it’s great to be back in the greatest fucking city in the world!” and “Nothing breaks Boston!” and of course the New Kids ended up playing Boston’s unofficial anthem “Sweet Caroline” toward the end of their set, to the utmost delight of the crowd.
The boys paid a hell of a final tribute to Boston by closing out the show singing “Hangin’ Tough”, wearing Red Sox jerseys with “BOSTON STRONG” surrounding area code “617” on the back. (As a brief side note—I realized during this number that I have seen the New Kids on the Block during every sports season—I’ve seen them wear Bruins jerseys, Celtics Jerseys and Red Sox jerseys! Not sure if this is something I should be proud of?)
By the end of the night, my throat was sore, my feet hurt and I was exhausted because I had stayed up later that evening than I had in months and I knew I still had an hour-long drive out of the city ahead of me. But every second of the night was worth it, from the dinner in Faneuil Hall to seeing thousands of women in the streets of Boston ready for the show, to listening to Boyz II Men, to suffering through 98 Degrees and finally seeing the New Kids come onto the stage! The members of the New Kids may be in their 40s…but to me they are still those young guys from Boston that touched the hearts of millions of girls in the late 80s. They continue to touch the hearts of their original fans and I sure hope they continue touring for the next 25 years!!!!!