Review: Original boy band New Kids on the Block gives nostalgic performance


  • May 25, 2017 Updated May 27, 2017

One Direction, Backstreet Boys and NSYNC may be successful on their own accord, but New Kids on the Block reminded Tulsans who laid the foundation for the boy band movement and why it caught fire.

The BOK Center was an estrogen-filled hub Wednesday night as women (and sometimes the husbands they dragged with them) chatted excitedly about the night ahead. Groups of friends were clad in matching homemade T-shirts with “NKOTB” and “Wahlberg, Knight, McIntyre and Wood” scrawled across their front or backs.

When NKOTB was introduced in a video before its opening song, iPhones shot immediately into the air, blocking any vantage point of the stage. Women with graying hair, their daughters in tow, screamed like 12-year-old girls preparing to meet their biggest celebrity crush.

Decked out in black jackets, tank tops and tight-fitting jeans, NKOTB took the stage, belting out one of its more well-known songs “One More Night.” The group’s first song was quickly followed by “My Favorite Girl” and “Dirty Dancing,” in which each member of the group tossed jackets aside and flexed their biceps to every woman’s delight.

Every man on stage was well aware of the pre-pubescent sex appeal their teenage band was endowed with and made certain their female audience wasn’t disappointed. The group punched out a line of hip thrusts during “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” and spent at least 10 minutes walking out into the crowd, posing for selfies and sending grown women tumbling over chairs to get to the NKOTB member closest to them.

Donnie Wahlberg stood on top of a flaming piano for one of the band’s greatest hits, “Cover Girl,” while lifting up his shirt and flexing his abs. In fact, each of the five members put their bodies on display when they ducked back stage to change in front of a camera called the “Live Quick Change Cam,” eliciting an exuberant chorus of screaming that all of downtown Tulsa must have heard.

The group then walked “through memory lane,” plucking various songs throughout their career beginning with their first 1986 single, “Be My Girl,” and ending with “I’ll Be Loving You.” The group’s ’90s-esque choreography and overall mediocre vocals (with the exception of Jordan Knight’s falsetto and Joey McIntyre’s belts) isn’t why women pay lots of money to see NKOTB.

NKOTB gave audiences an experience reminiscent of their youth, with all the fireworks and confetti as an added bonus. The original boy band’s attempts seemed to pay off. Women with wide eyes stood outside the BOK Center after the concert was said and done in awe or as one woman put it, “Isn’t that the best concert you’ve ever seen?”

Of course, NKOTB was set up for success with the exquisite help of their “friendly neighborhood harmonizers from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania” — otherwise known as Boyz II Men.

Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman and Nathan Morris, whose soulful vocals give Boyz II Men its signature sound, sent everyone rocking side to side when they started the party with “Motownphilly.”

The Philly-based group made it impossible not to smile, with its effervescent energy and untouchable vocal runs. Stockman was also sure to give a nod to the individuals affected by the bombing at the Arianna Grande concert in Manchester, England, on Monday.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those in Manchester,” Stockman said.

After a serious note, the group went on to perform “I’ll Make Love to you,” passing out roses to audience members, and ended the night with its hit “On Bended Knee.”

The soulful group was proceeded by ’80s pop princess and former “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul.

Perhaps the most thrilling aspect of Abdul’s performance was her quick costume changes and poppy choreography. The 54-year-old entertainer didn’t miss a beat, keeping up with the pack of her youthful back-up dancers. She was also sure to give the crowd performances of her greatest hits, including “Straight Up,” “Rush, Rush” and “Cold Hearted.”