The rest of you can carry on.
I guess you could say that part of me has been waiting 20 years for what happened Thursday night.
Without a trace of irony, myself and 8,999 of my closest friends packed the Air Canada Centre for the first stop on the New Kids on the Block North American reunion tour. As a wee lass growing up in rural Nova Scotia I never got a chance to see my first favourite group in concert during their early 90s peak. The closest I came was when they were rumoured to be playing Halifax, and while my dad called the venue to check, my sister and I did the Dance of Joy like Larry and Balki from Perfect Strangers. Turned out of course to be a dream-crushing lie, and we didn’t get to see them. So, I went last week. And I had the most fun I’ve had at a show in a while. My cousin, who I brought along, said it was the best night she’s had since her wedding earlier this summer, and probably better than any night before that for a long time. Magic.
As mentioned, I left the irony at home, but there was no way I wasn’t showing up drunk on nostalgia. It was actually exciting to be there. I know, shut up. But it was. I’ve never heard an audience as loud (NKOTB was my first and only foray into any sort of pop-phenom territory, so I don’t know, I’m sure the Jonas Brothers get it all the time), and seriously, if I was going to be there, why bother being a jerk? That means I cheered obnoxiously with everyone else, and it means I checked in with my other co-attendee via eye contact whenever we thought something especially funny (code for swoonworthy), and I generally had an insane amount of fun. I even did the “Hangin’ Tough” arm sway thing. You know the one. Do you guys still want to be my friends?
What can I say about the group? Yes, they’ve aged. Some of the notes were a bit… strained. And I can’t help but think that the extended costume changes were actually just a time-buyer for breath-catching and maybe some snacks. I bet when they disbanded 15 years ago they never pictured themselves on a sold-out arena tour again, but they handled it graciously, and were even a little surprised at the reaction. Donnie Wahlberg did most of the talking, at one point very creepily pointing out that we the audience were indeed old enough to party now. Jordan and Joey were their fan-favorite solo-singing selves, and Jon and Danny pretty much awkwardly hid in the back. Just like the old days! They danced, they sang, they’re the New Kids on the Block, what else are they supposed to do? It really wasn’t even about them. It was all us. Audience observation highlights include Joey “Victim” McIntyre being hit in the face with a bra, and the extremely vulgar comments the ladies behind us were screaming all night, also directed to Joey. Seriously, they were filthy. I was blushing.
I couldn’t help but think of how I would have been reacting at that very moment if it was eight year old Nicole in attendance (assuming those women would have been my age and not saying those terrible things):
Current Day Nicole: This is hilarious! I wonder what they’ll open with.
Eight Year Old Nicole: AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Current Day Nicole: Cool, these new songs actually sound like pretty decent Top 40 stuff (turns out they worked with Timbaland, DUH).
Eight Year Old Nicole: I WONDER IF JORDAN CAN SEE ME.
Current Day Nicole: Wow this is so loud! My ears sure are going to hurt tomorrow!
Eight Year Old Nicole: AHHHHHHHHDHGDGDK STEP BY STEP OOH BABY GONNA GET TO YOU GIIIIIRRRRLLLLL
Whether or not those could both have applied on Thursday night is not up for discussion.
MORAL: Trips down memory lane are fun! Just like the shoddy, graphic-heavy slideshow projected above the stage said: They’re BACK. I never thought I would see Jordan Knight’s wispy button-down shirt blowing all around him as he danced on an air vent (a visual made famous by this video), but I did. I saw it. And now I am complete.