Nostalgia on the Block, NKOTB @ MSG 10/27/08

Call it what you want, baby, but I still call it love.

Last night the recently reunited New Kids on the Block played Madison Square Garden in New York City.  I personally did not attend; one New Kids show at Alpine Valley in 1989 was enough for me.  My sister, however, bought tickets the moment they went on sale six months ago, snuck out of work and caught most of their set.

Most people will probably scoff, roll their eyes or ironically titter at the thought of NKOTB reuniting to tour the world.  These guys, after all, are not only has beens, but also New Edition rip-offs, the Elvis to Bobby Brown’s Chuck Berry, who preceded the Boy Band craze of the ’90s.  What New Kids on the Block and bands reuniting represent, however, is something more than music, something more emotionally powerful and far more compelling as a lucrative commercial tool.  They represent the lure of Nostalgia.

Listening to NKOTB and seeing them perform live in concert isn’t about the now, it’s about the then.  Feeling what you felt at the age of 12, lip-syncing the Right Stuff into a flashlight as your microphone, honing the dance, running shoulder to shoulder with a crowd in search of lawn seats at an open outdoor amphitheater.  How were the New Kids last night?  It doesn’t matter since everyone in the sold-out Garden saw what they wanted to see – a flashback to their adolescence when time and markets didn’t matter.  There are no glasses rosier than the bifocals of nostalgia.  NKOTB is your fat girlfriend, the one only you can love.

Which is why the New Kids on the Block deserve to be evaluated not for who they are now but for what they were 20 years ago.  Sure, Donny dropped trou a lot last night, showing off the requisite white boxer briefs of faux hip hop style.  John stood awkwardly to the side as Danny breakdanced and Jordan broke it down.  Wahlberg’s voice may have even cracked during the more trying parts of Covergirl.  Whatever.  Walk with us down memory lane and tell us you’re bigger than nostalgia.

I’ll Be Loving You Forever

[Embedding disabled by request, wah]

According to my sister a memorable moment of the show came during Jordan Knight’s I’ll Be Loving You Forever.  He ditched the fedora and pool cue of the video and instead rocked the MJ/Enrique open white button down flowing in the wind.

Please Don’t Go Girl

There’s a beautiful symmetry to NKOTB videos.  Start with some gritty, urban landscape as indicated by a bridge or Welcome to Brooklyn sign; show the boys strolling through a street environment with high tops, high fades, high waters and high fives; cut to a performance in some empty, dilapidated space that only the New Kids can seek out like the Hardy Boys on a mission.

This was Joey McIntyre’s jam back in the day.  Apparently it was last night, too.  As our taciturn correspondent at the show last night informed us over g-chat this morning , “Joey did good.”


According to our correspondent, “Tonight was a HIT…I mean ridiculous.”  The Kids moved to a circular stage in the middle of the crowd where Joey jumped on the keys to interlude with some “New York, New York” by Sinatra before melting Madison Square hearts with this unlikely, off-kilter party anthem.

Hangin’ Tough

For a finale, NKOTB went out with that arms in the air like you just don’t care 20th Century banger, Hangin’ Tough.  God damn, those videos are sick.  It’s surprising how well they stand up today, nearly 20 years after their original release.  Either the New Kids were ahead of their time or we’re devolving as a culture.  But that’s how nostalgia works, the present informs the past.  NKOTB may no longer be new, but last night at MSG it was 1988 all over again.  Hangin’ tough.

6 Responses to Nostalgia on the Block, NKOTB @ MSG 10/27/08

  1. LaurenNotWorkingAtWork says:

    Joey Joe will forever own a piece of my heart. Donny, however, will not — because I always picture him as the crazy guy in Sixth Sense. Anyway, well done on the post. p.s. Does anyone remember how the NKOTB Barbie dolls had rattails and turtle tails?

  2. mashia6 says:

    This is a complete waste of time. Did your sister even watch the show? Jordan has the white unbuttoned shirt during Baby I believe in You and Joey’s “jam” as you put it has never been Tonight, but Please Don’t go Girl.

    I went to the show for nostalgia originally yes, but their new music is great and they are a lot more talented than they get credit for.

  3. rock out with yer clock out, Flav says:

    no one’s denying their talent as performers. i wish they wouldn’t squander all that talent on crap songs though.

  4. Say hi to your mother for me.

  5. Hey donkey. How you doin’?

  6. BoogieEater says:

    I was at MSG last night and it was AMAZING!!!
    My best friend and I were at MSG the last time NKOTB performed there nearly 20 yrs ago and we had the time of our life last night. There is something about NKOTB that is beyond words. The concert was great and the energy was ridiculous.

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