Nearly three decades after releasing their first single, the New Kids on the Block are still running full steam ahead. Delivering their “Package” tour featuring both 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men, NKOTB stopped at the Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City on Saturday night for a two hour show drenched in nostalgia and synchronized dance moves — precisely what the audience wanted.
Short opening sets by a vocally-flawless Boyz II Men and the crowd-pleasing 98 Degrees kicked off the Package tour, helping to flesh out the boyband-athon vibe of the evening. Boyz II Men were particularly strong, featuring great performances of On Bended Knee, I’ll Make Love to You and a rousing take on Motownphilly that had everyone in the crowd dancing. 98 Degrees’ performance had a few new tracks as well as old standards Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche) and their original debut single Invisible Man.
After those boy band appetizers, it was time for the main course. Opening with a video montage encouraging the crowd to drop their drama at the door, to live like there’s no tomorrow and to “own tonight,” NKOTB finally appeared on stage while some of the loudest screaming I’ve ever heard at a show threatened to deafen those in the audience without earplugs.
Sure, NKOTB has a new record (10) out, but this show wasn’t structured around that album. A few new tracks — We Own Tonight, lead single Remix (I Like The), Survive You and The Whisper — all made appearances and were received warmly enough by the audience. But these now late 30s/early 40s women who came to the show in droves were there for the hits, and the former teenage idols know that.
Whether replicating their dance steps from the 80s-tastic You Got It (The Right Stuff) or performing a medley of slightly truncated versions of Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind), Valentine Girl and If You Go Away while spinning around on a rising platform in the middle of the arena, these guys know the definition of fan service.
The band added something a little different for this tour in the form of a lengthy acoustic segment. This portion of the show combined stripped down versions of more of their hits (Single, Baby I Believe in You and 2008’s great Click Click Click) with some of their favorite pop songs from the last few decades, including George Michael’s Faith and Prince’s Kiss. On Faith, Joey McIntyre took over on lead vocals while Kiss found Jordan Knight giving his best Prince impersonation raised high above the audience on a pedestal. Knight’s Kiss ended with the singer’s shirt pulled over his shoulders, garnering a roar of approval from fans who have watched him grow up.
The fan service didn’t end there, of course, as a performance of Cover Girl would find the group’s “bad boy” Donnie Wahlberg ripping his shirt off and throwing it to some woman on the floor of the arena. During Tonight, all five members of the group wandered out to separate tiny platforms set up around the arena to perform, far closer than many of the woman in attendance ever dreamed of being to their former (and maybe current) crushes.
Vocally, the guys largely sounded fine although at points some of the falsetto work sounded a bit off. Jordan seemed to have trouble with the falsetto in I’ll Be Loving You (Forever) but nailed the Princely notes in Kiss, so who knows what the issue was. Regardless, they sounded about as good as you’d expect a boy band to sound decades after their debut.
The stage show added a lot of spice to the set, filled with moving parts, fire and confetti. A flower-shaped stage in the middle of the arena was home base for the guys, featuring a large rising (and rotating) circle platform with five smaller rising platforms for each individual guy. A walkway connected this stage to the end stage which housed the NKOTB’s band. The in-the-round performance style really suits a pop show like this and gave everyone in the arena a great vantage point.
Nearly two hours after the start of their set, Donnie Wahlberg took a few minutes to praise the people of Oklahoma for standing strong during the recent tornado outbreak that happened in the state. Unlike most times when an artist name drops the city they are playing in, it actually felt authentic and inspired a few minutes of applause from both the band and the crowd. Then, donning Boston Strong jerseys, the guys dedicated the set-closing performance of “Hangin’ Tough” to both Oklahoma and Boston. As thousands upon thousands of arms waved through the air, mostly like they didn’t even care, it became clear that even decades after their debut, NKOTB can probably continue on filling arenas for however long they want.
Boyz II Men:
On Bended Knee, Water Runs Try, I’ll Make Love to You, It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye, End of the Road, Motownphilly
Heat It Up, Girls Night Out, Invisible Man, The Hardest Thing, Microphone, My Everything, I Do (Cherish You), Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche), Because of You
New Kids on the Block:
We Own Tonight, Block Party, Summertime, You Got It (The Right Stuff), The Whisper / Shout, Survive You, Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind) / Valentine Girl / If You Go Away, Please Don’t Go Girl, Remix (I Like The), Single, Baby I Believe In You, I’ll Be There, Stay the Same, Tender Love, Click Click Click, Faith / Kiss, Dirty Dancing, Step by Step, Cover Girl, Games, Tonight, I’ll Be Loving You (Forever), Hangin’ Tough
Check out a few selected shots followed by our full gallery: