This week right here in Manchester I had a return date with five boys from Boston. Longer ago than I care to remember I was in Manchester with thousands upon thousands of screaming girls; New Kids were my first crush band although I didn’t know that at the time. I remember being confused that others were confused; I couldn’t like New Kids? It was a girl thing was it? Well I got all merch’d up and believe me, they deserved every single one of my screams and every single one of my (Dad’s) pounds on souvenirs.
Nothing on earth matches the ferocity of teenagers screaming for a boy band, that goes back to the Beatles and further, it sounds like nothing on earth. If you wanted to hear that, One Direction were across the city. And they can stay there, Friday was about Jordan, Jon, Donnie, Joe and Danny. Some things get better with age, NKOTB are one of them.
The group has released two albums of new material since they came back together and it cannot be denied, both The Block and 10 are packed with quality tracks. They were what they were then and they are what they are now, and by the way 5 million sales in 1991 for one single is not to be sniffed at; but now more than ever the music is strong. They wouldn’t be on the stages of the world if it wasn’t.
Oh yes and, stepping away from musical integrity for a second…. Phwoarrrrrrrrrr.
Crash opened the show and it’s a thumper, my non blockhead friend thought it was a cover of something Usher would release. I loved Donnie, bouncing to the front to sing his bit, he looked so happy to be up there. Scratch that, everyone did.
Remix was the song from 10 that made me sit up and take notice. Fittingly, it’s about someone who was dismissed and came back stronger. Blockheads like the remix.
How about a song about fond memories? Summertime bounced along before they showed us what we already knew – the New Kids still have The Right Stuff, that in particular sounded better and sexier, than ever. The magnetism that drips off these boys is something to behold; they know what they have, they know what the fans want, whatever they give to their devoted blockheads they get it back in equal amounts. After all, they had all this once and they walked away from it, they have it back on their own terms and it fits them very well.
The covers are interesting; Back for Good, Take That’s song of songs then Careless Whisper written by Wham but used by George Michael in his solo career, Faith which was the first track on George’s solo album and was a self concious divorce from his boyband past; Rock DJ, a solo offering from former (then returned, now forever…) Take That star Robbie Williams. Williams, is aware and appreciative of the homage the New Kids pay. There’s also a nod to Backstreet Boys and the Prince song, Kiss, well, because it’s… come on, we already talked about sexual magnetisim didn’t we?
Hot in Here / Dirty Dancing continued down that road, it was a personal highlight because I’ve been dancing to that song (and Grown Man too, ironically) for months and years as if no one was watching; but on Friday I was in a room of like minded people and the energy was electric. Everyone had their moment, Donnie searched for his Cover Girl and not for the first time ever I cursed my gender, lemme tell you. I can assure you, dear reader, that feeling didn’t last long because Donnie and I had a moment and my girlish heart was full. There was a couple of Joey moments to savour too before they ended with the oh oh’s of Hangin’ Tough, and they are.
Crash, Remix, Summertime, (You Got It) The Right Stuff, The Whisper, Survive You, Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time), Valentine Girl, If You Go Away, Single, Block Party, Tonight, I’ll Be There, Back for Good, Careless Whisper, Faith, Kiss, Rock DJ, I Want it That Way, Hot in Here / Dirty Dancing, Please Don’t Go Girl, Step By Step, Cover Girl, Games, I’ll Be Loving You (Forever), Hangin’ Tough.
It’s not about being soft, it;s about being smart and the New Kids on the Block both radiated and basked in love – go and ask anyone in attendance, the only jokingly negative moment came when Joey was about to sing a One Direction song and was vocally persuaded not to by the Blockhead faithful. Ask them even now and they will tell you without a moments hesitation that you can keep your 1D, NKOTB have been there, not only have they bought the t-shirt, they merchandised the T Shirt so that everyone else could buy one too (not to mention the lunchboxes, magazines, pencil cases, dolls).
Some will tell you that the European tour has been about people releasing their inner teen fan but I say that’s too easy. Yes, I loved that they included Didn’t I Blow Your Mind and I helped with uncredited backing vocals from my seat in the crowd (as did everyone else), I’ll Be There melted me too butI remember that age, I didn’t know who I was the first time I screamed for this band and I have no desire to reconnect with that time.
This is about now, it’s current and it has far surpassed that for me. The connection remains, I’ll give you that, but the fans have matured and they know who they are as much as the boys in the band do too. The time away from the block clearly helped everyone.
Whatever happens now, be it solo projects, acting, or time away – BH love is alive and well on both sides, we thank them for coming back and they thank us for giving them the platform. It means that now whatever directions they each will go down, the block will remain,
Now how do I get myself on that cruise?!
Words © Simon A. Moult 2014. Pictures © C J Lindsay 2014.