NKOTBSB tour is everything their (slightly older) fans could hope for

Who you calling kid? NKOTBSB are still fond of zippers after all these years.
Tom Donoghue

The Details

Three and a half stars
Mandalay Bay
July 3

Before seeing the maturing version of New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys in concert, you hear them. Well, not them so much as the response they elicit from 12,000 howling fans at Mandalay Bay Events Center. The first number, a mash of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” and Backstreet Boys’ “The One,” is nearly washed out by the roar and whine of a capacity audience.

And you think, “Wow. Really?” Really. For this crowd, the alphabet soup-inspired NKOTBSB tour is a gleefully harmless jaunt down memory lane. Look around and there are many folks in their 30s and 40s, and even several entering and exiting that age demographic, partying like it’s 1989. Mothers are toting their daughters. Couples of any configuration are dancing in the aisles. One woman who has not paced her alcohol-fueled reunion experience tumbles down the stairs, bruising her left cheekbone in a party hazard that will serve as a hell of a story if she remembers it.

NKOTBSB at Mandalay Bay Events Center

This is music many grew up with, certainly, familiar and infectious. New Kids step through “The Right Stuff” and “Step By Step;” Backstreet dusts off “Larger Than Life” and “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely.” The attire is baggy and multi-zippered, alternating between angelic white and badass black. The guys move well, still, and judging by some flubbed notes and gasps, are singing in their own voices. They’re in shape, too, and give them credit for appearing onstage in fit condition. When Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids strips his shirt, the women (and a good measure of the men) shout in approval.

But the moment to take away is not musical, or a choreographed segment like the closing number, when both groups don the sequin-splashed jerseys of their hometown NBA squads (Orlando Magic for Backstreet, Boston Celtics for New Kids) for “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” and “Hangin’ Tough.” It’s the scene in which Joey McIntyre of New Kids summons his 3-year-old son Griffin to the stage. The young man’s ears are protected (McIntyre’s younger son, Rhys, suffers from chronic hearing loss). Griffin is walked along the stage, his smiling image beamed out over the arena. The Newest Kid on the Block, too, is a hit.

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