Sunday night, London, Ontario’s John Labatt Centre saw the welcome fusion of two generations of boy band fans. The 18-year strong Backstreet Boys and the 27-year running New Kids on the Block came together for one last pyrotechnic-filled show in their much publicized 57-concert NKOTBSB North American tour, with the promise of “keeping this alive,” according to BSB A.J. McLean.
In the planning stages, this tour was considered too big to ever happen, but the the pop legends beat the odds and pulled it off, both performing hits from the bands’ repertoire as a 9-man supergroup, and alternating to showcase songs as individual bands as well.
After a virtually inaudible (but probably funny) opening video with actress Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison endeared himself to the crowd with popular covers of his from the musical dramedy series Glee such as a 50s-esque, tuxedo-adorned dance/song version of the Dean Martin (then Michael Buble) hit “Sway,” and a horribly off-key mashup of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and “Young Girl,” from Glee’s very first season. Morrison also sang singles from his self-titled album such as “Summer Rain” and “Still Got Tonight.” Most impressive in Morrison’s set was the homage he paid to Michael Jackson, Patrick Swayze and Gene Kelly by a beautifully choreographed fusion dance solo with moves popularized by the aforementioned ‘triple threats’.
Before Morrison took to the stage, Neverest, a new group of Canadian pop-rockers being co-managed by BSB’s Howie Dorough performed a short set and despite the group’s infancy, they were a crowd favorite, with many a fan young and old singing along to the title track off of their new album, “About Us.” Neverest’s sound live was almost identical to that of their album, seemingly unfazed by the thousands of fans in front of them.
The concert, which, from opening act to the final encore ran over 4 hours and 15 minutes was extraordinarily nostalgic, but not nearly as much as it was energetic. From the moment the white curtain dropped to reveal two generations of pop gods on a sky high platform to when a wall of sparks shot over the stage, every song felt like it was the last. (And once the band hit the three hour mark, a part of me had hoped each song was the last.)
New Kids and the Backstreet Boys opened the show with a medley of NKOTB’s “Single” and the BSB’s “The One” as an ensemble before alternating for shorter sets. The format really allowed the energy to keep up for the hours that it did. Apart from the sheer magnitude of the show and the special effects used, what made this concert particularly unique was the level of fun that the singers were having on stage. In addition to joking with each other, shooting silly string and water guns into the crowd on stage (and a bizarre moment where Donnie Wahlberg ripped off his tank top and A.J. McLean rose through the platform sporting a golden Speedo,) there was no shortage of sexual innuendo, crowd interaction, and on stage hijinks (particularly from Brian Littrell and Joey McIntyre.
With the exception of the excessive length, and a sentimental 20 minute interlude of the individual singers complimenting each other in an informal-but-clearly-planned-and-not-really-productive-anyway way (that included a rather lengthy discussion about Danny Wood’s penis,) the performance was flawless. The singers all held the harmonies and choreography (and clearly the stamina) as if it were their first tour, but each added a distinct vocal and personal maturity as well. It’s very clear that the age of the boy band is not over yet.
Setlist available via Wikipedia.