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NKOTBSB bring spirited nostalgia to Philips Arena

spotlight_nkotbsbYou know what’s even louder than the squeals of 15,000-plus 13-year-old girls?

The shrieking of 15,000-plus 35-year-old women.

At Wednesday’s NKOTBSB show – a boy band behemoth if there ever was one – the predominantly female audience howled, cried, clicked dozens of cell phone camera photos and joyfully wallowed in the 2 ½-hour nostalgia fiesta unfolding before them.

These types of novelty packages are always a risky proposition. Will fans still care about their teenage crushes 20 years later? Are those teenage crushes in decent enough physical and vocal shape to endure a lengthy tour? Was the music just a forgettable snapshot of a few years in pop culture or is it authentic in spirit?

The answers: Absolutely. Completely. Surprisingly so.

A decade separates the insane peaks of success for ‘80s hunks New Kids on the Block (Jordan and Jonathan Knight, Danny Wood, Joey McIntyre and Donnie Wahlberg) and ‘90s heartthrobs Backstreet Boys (Georgia resident Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, A.J. McLean and former member and non-tour participant Kevin Richardson). But, as evidenced at Philips Arena, the groups share a musical soul and a fan base that might squawk a little louder for one or the other, but is perfectly content in the presence of either.

This joint outing, which has been on the road about a month now, is a study in seamlessness.

With so many hits and personalities between the groups, it’s an impossibility to please everyone. But wow, did these guys try.

The show is a zesty production stocked with fireworks, fog, flood lights, air-launched streamers, hydraulic lifts bookending the stage and a nearly floor-length catwalk, and those essential elements of any boy band performance – synchronized choreography, soaring harmonies and songs about love, heartbreak and innocent lust.

Opening with a medley of NKOTB’s “Single” and BSB’s “The One,” with the melody of Coldplay “Viva La Vida” running beneath, the groups made it immediately apparent that the mission of the show would be, simply, to have fun.

It was a challenge that this crowd met six songs into the set when NKOTB broke into those patented sideways kicks while standing behind five mic stands for “You Got It (The Right Stuff).” The surging response actually caused the cement stairs to quiver from the excited bouncing of fans.

Every few songs, the groups would swap places on stage, with one team heading beneath the stage – where, Jordan Knight mentioned in a pre-show chat, he and the NKOTB guys are usually doing push-ups and weights while BSB performs.

It was well-organized musical chairs and gave the groups time for ballad segments that truly showcased their durable vocals.

Jordan Knight’s aching falsetto was as creamy as it was in 1989 as he sang their cover of The Delfonics’ “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind)” and McIntyre’s convincing pleading during “Please Don’t Go Girl” – capped with a run-and-slide move on the catwalk – reminded fans of his Broadway pedigree.

Then it was BSB’s turn to woo the ladies, as the guys emerged in white suits to harmonize beautifully on “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” and “I’ll Never Break Your Heart,” which found them plucking some “Georgia peaches” from the crowd and serenading them on bended knee.

Throughout the show, some songs were dusted with slightly rougher edges provided by a tight four-piece band.

Obviously, it would look ridiculous for the macho Wahlberg to croon “Cover Girl” with its bubblegum perkiness of old, so it received a dose a rock guitar that better suited his persona. (Fans of the bad boy must have loved when he shredded his black tank top, superhero-style, to showcase the Wahlberg family abs.)

BSB, meanwhile, engaged in a spirited dance-off at the end of the still-lustrous “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart),” which dovetailed into a snippet of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.”

As gratifying as the show was as sheer entertainment – and this combo crew seems to genuinely enjoy each other’s company –  it was almost more heartening to see these guys, many of whom have dealt with substance abuse, health problems and other success-related issues, pull it together for one of the most entertaining tours of the summer.

Opening the show was Jordin Sparks, the 2007 “American Idol” winner who is most definitely not that shy teen anymore. Now 21 with a Beyonce-worthy figure, which she highlighted in a short, black fringe dress, the powerhouse vocalist squeezed several hits into a 25-minute set.

Performing against three vertical video panels, Sparks sang, with a track backing her, a string of tunes including “No Air,” “One Step At a Time” and “Tattoo,” sprinkled with snippets of songs from Pink and Jessie J. She wrapped her set with the new “I Am Woman,” a feisty empowerment anthem with multi-generational appeal.

37 comments Add your comment

Tamisha Cobb

June 23rd, 2011
1:26 am

I am 35. I was there. I loved it! I’m still screaming on the inside!!!!! NKOT
BSB!!!!!!!!!

Melissa Ruggieri

June 23rd, 2011
1:30 am

Wow, that might be the fastest comment ever!

Courtney

June 23rd, 2011
2:29 am

Absolutely amazing concert!!!!!!!!!! I cried like i was 13 years old again :) :):)

Vanessa

June 23rd, 2011
8:26 am

Awesome concert last night!!! I loved it. I was about 16 when BSB came out, and I am 28 still rocking out to the songs!!!

Sasha L

June 23rd, 2011
8:48 am

Fell in love all over again with BSB, a little young to remember NKOTB but enjoyed them still. They both rocked it out I’ve never seen/heard so many screaming women! Definitely a show to remember

UGA1999

June 23rd, 2011
9:40 am

Quick Question….if any of you were asked to go back stage…(We all know what that means)….would you go?

rolethatclip

June 23rd, 2011
9:49 am

….I would go backstage,,,,,to videotape…bowchicawowwow….and action….

UGA1999

June 23rd, 2011
9:52 am

rolethatclip….honestly?

j

June 23rd, 2011
9:54 am

Lotta women with mental problems, I tell yea.

crazy4joey

June 23rd, 2011
9:55 am

Last night’s concert surpassed all of my expectations. What a fantastic show!! I LOVE NKOTB!!

Vanessa

June 23rd, 2011
10:04 am

J, mental problems? Just for going to a concert?

Jordan's Girl Still

June 23rd, 2011
10:10 am

I absolutely loved them!! I saw them when I was 8, 25 and now 28 and they are just as hot as ever!!! Such an amazing concert!!

UGA1999

June 23rd, 2011
10:15 am

New posters read my previous post….and comment.

Spring

June 23rd, 2011
10:28 am

I am 34 and I WAS THERE!!!!! It was AWESOME!!!! I will go see them again and again, etc…..
YES – Loved when the skin was showing!!!
I was also amazed at how many men were there with their wives/girlfriends….

UGA1999

June 23rd, 2011
10:32 am

There is no way I could sit through that concert. However I am sure there were some attractive ladies there.

dorae

June 23rd, 2011
10:46 am

Wish I could have been there. love Donnie Wahlberg in “Blue Bloods”. Hope they keep the show going for a long time.

kmivey

June 23rd, 2011
10:48 am

It was an awesome concert!! I wish Phillips Arena sound system was better! I had to leave at 10:00. What time did the concert end?

UGA1999

June 23rd, 2011
10:50 am

The sound at Phillips is always bad.

Pgirl5

June 23rd, 2011
10:55 am

I went to the concert last night and THOROUGHLY enjoyed the entire show! Anybody who is on here simply to make fun or belittle either group is the one who needs to get a life, not the thousands of individuals who enjoyed the show. CLEARLY these guys are still relevant. Anyone who can sell out Phillips Arena is.

kmivey

June 23rd, 2011
10:59 am

Pgirl5 – I agree!! Do you know what time it ended? I had to leave early.

UGA1999

June 23rd, 2011
11:03 am

Kmivey….did you read my first post?

Spanky

June 23rd, 2011
11:04 am

Not again!! LOL…jees! This would be “hetero-hell” for us fellas! This is yet another exhibit of how we will never understand you ladies! LOL

km

June 23rd, 2011
11:12 am

Uga 1999, think 30’s, smokers, who are over weight and full of wrinkles. Just sayin… their glory days are over.

UGA1999

June 23rd, 2011
11:14 am

km…..hahaha that is sad.

ralph

June 23rd, 2011
11:35 am

I am 42 years old and remember the NKOTB from the 80s. They had some good tunes, that I can still listen to today. My girlfriend in high school was a NKOTB fanatic, LOL!! Never was into the BSB. I think it is good to see them still performing.

Pgirl5

June 23rd, 2011
12:05 pm

kmivey It was pretty late…after 11. The ending was very cute. Brian brought up his adorable little boy. His fam was in the audience. Again, I believe most people that have nothing but hateful things to say are displaying nothing but sheer jealousy. Let these men live. This is their career. We all gotta make it out here; even older guys that were once pop sensations. They still have bills to pay and mouths to feed. Why knock them for doin that ya know? They DID SELLOUT Phillips arena. Rihanna couldn’t even do that, and she is technically still a new artist

BSBLeigh

June 23rd, 2011
1:49 pm

Was there last night and I’m 28. I screamed and shrieked like I was 13 again and it was awesome!! They put on a great show. I came in a BSB FANatic but left a NKOTBSB lover and equally a fan of both! Oh as much as people hate on them I am pretty sure Britney can’t even sellout Phillips :) I’ve seen BSB two summers in a row and they don’t disappoint. Sidenote: Donnie Wahlberg is just…. *swooooon*…. KTBSPA!!!

iheartdonnie

June 23rd, 2011
2:43 pm

The best concert I have been to!! They totally rocked it out at Philips Arena! They performed like rock stars. The best lighting and crowd interaction!!!

BRADOLL2000

June 23rd, 2011
3:24 pm

This was the best show yet!!! This was my third show with the NKOTB since their comeback and it was definately amazing. It was just plan fun, entertaining and SEXY!!! FYI KM I am 30, a non-smoker, not overweight and have no wrinkles. Their were plenty hot girls there. Just saying…. I loved the mashups and I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the stage this show! This boyband certainly Rocked and shut down Atlanta last night! The afterparty was hot, as well. I’ll be right up front again next time. Thanks for a Fantastic show last night

NatOlv

June 23rd, 2011
4:08 pm

LOVE the concert, love them… they are so energetic and everything so well organized, love all the songs and performances. A well worth seeing concerts!!! We will definitely go see their concerts again!!! Way to go NKOTBSB!!! Love you guys!!!

NKOTB fan

June 23rd, 2011
7:34 pm

I was also there and it was a great show, as always!!! Have loved NKOTB since they first started out, met them in Boston and what great guys!!! So much fun to just escape from crazy, busy life for a while and be 14 again!!!! Had a blast!!!!

Quin

June 24th, 2011
9:46 am

I drove all the way from Mobile to Atlanta by myself for one night to see this show, so you can imagine my love for these groups ESPECIALLY BSB. I was SO not disapointed. This was a fun show as you can tell from the thousands of people who never sat down and sang and dance the full 2 hours. NKOTBSB WORE ME OUT!!! They looked amazing, sounded amazing and you could tell that these guys were having a great time making us go crazy. Watching these two groups were like watching TRUE experience put on a show because the production was FLAWLESS! I just turned 30 and this was my bday gift to myself .Seeing them again brought back that same feeling i had when i was 13! TOTAL HYSTERIA lol and for that NKOTBSB…..i thank you!

dirtyPIZZA

June 24th, 2011
6:10 pm

The sound at Philips Arena is and always will be horrible. Hard to really enjoy the show with all the girls ( not just lil girls) I had much older and some drunk off their butts yelling and screaming sexual comments to the men. I was very disappointed in the show and the way Philips handled security and disappointed and saddened with all that talent wasted singing about nothing more than ways to have sex with a person, ways to cheat on your wife or g/f. This was not awesome or excitement but more sad that all these women and children are praising this kind of behavior that makes woman be just something you can use and throw away without a second thought. In God’s word woman are to be cherished.

My prayer for this generation that follows and idolizes these types of groups that there eyes would be open to see the truth. Being a follow of NKOTB isn’t going to get you into heaven.

Diane

June 24th, 2011
10:19 pm

I drove a total of 12 hours to be there!! I am from Ft. Lauderdale Fla.(I’m 38) Made a pitstop in Tampa to pick up my sisters,(24 &25) then drove all the way back home. The trip was so worth it!! I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Vanessa

June 27th, 2011
1:45 pm

I was very disappointed in the show and the way Philips handled security and disappointed and saddened with all that talent wasted singing about nothing more than ways to have sex with a person, ways to cheat on your wife or g/f.

What are you talking about?? That’s not even the type of music Backstreet nor New Kids sing about. Where the heck were you listening to?

[...] NKOTBSB bring spirited nostalgia to Philips Arena [...]

Angieb303

June 29th, 2011
12:09 pm

dirtyPIZZA – Um their songs are Please Don’t Go Girl, I’ll Never Break Your Heart, I’ll Be Loving You Forever. What songs where you listening to? BSB sings about getting their heart broken by a girl. KNOTB tells the girls she’s perfect in every way. None of them encourage cheating or disrespect. They do have a sexual edge but it’s nothing inappropriate. I was at the Lafayette concert and it was the most AMAZING night of my life!