01 June 2014 (gig)
05 June 2014
Following in the footsteps of many a boy band, New Kids On The Block hit the road early this year, ditching the big lights and big venues and instead opting for a smaller tour across Europe.
The All-American five piece, that were arguably the original template for the boy band formula, delivered a high energy performance at The Clyde Auditorium in Scotland's music capital, Glasgow. Although the performance lacked the vocal capabilities that other notable man-bands can and have delivered, it completely out did itself in charisma and enthusiasm.
The generally uptempo show kicked off with more recent offerings from the 80s group, including 'Crash', 'Remix', and 'Summertime', with musician turned credible actor, and eldest member of the group, Donnie Whalberg taking the lead as showman on the dancier tunes; proving that even two and a half decades on, he's still well versed in how to work a predominantly female crowd.
Barely stopping for breath, the boys belted out another few tracks, with fan favourites Jordan Knight and Joey McIntyre wooing the room filled to the brim with screaming ladies of all ages (and even a few of their pre-adolescent children), with their on-point vocals and age defying good looks. The two youngest members of the group, and undoubtedly the better vocalist of the five-piece, held down solid melodies, whilst John, Donnie, and Danny showed us that they can still strut their stuff. As if to prove this point further, Danny, who feigned shyness when accosted by his fellow band mates, being made to show off his rock solid abs to adoring fans, even broke into an impressive break dancing routine half way through the show, head-spin included.
For at least the first half of the show the adrenalin was enough to keep the crowd happy and get the middle-aged musicians through the show, however, as voices and limbs started to get tired, the slow tempo section of the show was a welcome change, with Jordan Knight's falter-free falsetto carrying the group vocally, and wow-ing the audience with it's seamlessly never ending range; at one point it's uncertain whether my ears were just ringing or if he was actually hitting notes only dogs can hear.
It wouldn't have been an 'intimate' gig without some up-close-and-personal time with the Kids themselves. So, mid set, one lucky fan (or at least the daughter of a fan) was brought up onto the stage and serenaded by a raspy voiced Donnie. Considering that she couldn't have been born more than a decade ago, it was clear that her NKOTB knowledge was fairly limited by the frightful stiffness in her shoulders and the terror on her face. Be that as it may, she made it through the song and was assisted back to her seat just in time to catch Joey and Jordan, whom, escorted by hoards of security, wormed their way through the rows of girls on the ground floor, giving out hugs, kisses, and posing for selfies with fans, all whilst chiming along to George Michael's 'Careless Whisper'.
Other covers included world wide hits 'Back For Good' by Take That, and 'I Want It That Way' by NKOTB's BFFs, The Backstreet Boys. It's always hit or miss when one boy band covers the song of another; New Kids On The Block did two, and managed to do justice to both. Robbie Williams' 'Rock DJ', Prince's 'Kiss', and Nelly's 'Hot In Here' also made an appearance, in what was turning out to be one euphorically intoxicating trip down memory lane. The icing on the cake was a hot footed rendition of 'Step-by-step', a remix of bubblegum hit 'Cover Girl', and a heart pumping climax of Queen's 'We Will Rock You' and the NKOTB classic, 'Hanging Tough'.
The fact that the show was branded 'An Intimate Night With...' may have been disappointing to some fans who missed out on the closeness; it being firmly obvious to even those not so privy to the New Kids of their 80s/90s heyday, that it was named as such because they were unlikely to have ever filled a full sized arena (we'll exclude 2011's NKOTBSB tour, that with the help of successors, The Backstreet Boys, managed such a feat). Be that as it may, the now 40-something five-some escaped the clutches of a typical Throwback Thursday night out, and put on a show that could have rivalled the pre-adult popsters of today (I previously saw JLS debut at the same venue, they weren't as good).
With that said, it was certainly a night to remember, and although, at times, it was vocally inept, and wasn't quite as up-close-and-personal as some fans would've liked (I never got to count the number knickers left behind); between John's charm-factor, Danny's muscles, Donnie's cheeky smile, and the unforgettable pelvic thrusts of Joey and Jordan, the dynamic night out with New Kids On The Block was just about 'intimate' enough. One Direction may have lit up Edinburgh, but with those faces and boundless energy, The New Kids showed Glasgow that they never really get old, and truly do have The Right Stuff.
Photography by Laura F McKay for Music News