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New Kids still have the boy band look, bubblegum sound

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 12:22 a.m.

Didn't they blow our minds this time, didn't they?

The manic audience of thousands of adoring fans — some 90 percent female and 30- or 40-something — would say, yes, that's what New Kids on the Block did on June 11 at Consol Energy Center.

The five middle-aged men that form the band — Donnie Wahlburg, Jordan and Jonathan Knight, Danny Wood and the clear fan favorite, band baby Joey McIntyre — recaptured their boy band look and bubblegum pop sound from the late ‘80s.

Knight can still sing with that falsetto on songs like “I'll Be Loving You (Forever),” as if he is a 12-year-old.

The kids, who split up in the mid ‘90s but reunited a few years ago, gave us an energetic show with a two-hour set full of both the classic hits like “Cover Girl” and “Hangin' Tough” and new songs from the album “10,” which came out in April. The show included confetti showers, the occasional song from another artist — and quite surprisingly, pyrotechnics, which typically are reserved for hard rock bands in outdoor venues.

In the ensemble-style performance, each kid counted and had his time for focused audience attention, due to the diamond-shaped stage with pronged platforms for each band member to step out among the audience and bask in the adoration.

The audience's women, many of whom probably still have their New Kids locker pinups from Tiger Beat, practically climbed onto stage as they stretched their arms toward each band member and hoped to snag a touch, in a moment some have dreamed about since junior high school.

At least half of what made Tuesday night's show so entertaining was the audience, which resembled a ladies' high school reunion from the ‘80s.

Many women wore fluorescent, glowing shirts, as well as Flashdance-style shirts; meanwhile, band members rotated their outfits through snazzy-looking white and dark suits. And this arm-swaying audience showed the enthusiasm and decibel levels of a Super Bowl game, or little girls at a Hannah Montana concert.

The New Kids guys engaged in some cheesy He-Man antics, like regularly lifting their shirts to tease the women and flaunt their abs. But we seem to hold the minority opinion, as the audience went bonkers over the chest views.

We would be remiss not to tip our hats to opening acts Boys II Men and 98 Degrees, who made good boy-band complements to the New Kids.

The white-suited Boyz II Men stirred up the audience as much as the New Kids did at times, especially while the Philadelphia trio sang “I'll Make Love to You” and passed out red roses to swooning women.

Nick Lachey and three other members of 98 Degrees performed another brief but intense set. Heartthrob Lachey likely provided the audience ladies their favorite 98 Degrees moment when he and two other bandmates with hanging suspenders removed their blouses and performed the rest of the set wearing their tank tops.

All three bands sang and danced in a choreographed, synchronized manner that often resembled line dancing, and all members fit together and harmonized.

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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