For some Chicagoans, Friday, October 24, at Allstate Arena, was the second time around to see the New Kids on the Block in less than three weeks. But for most, it had been some 15 years or more since they last saw the five guys on stage. Each Chicago performance, the first of the recent tour being on October 4, in the same venue, was an experience in itself. With all the "buttons and the pins and the loud fanfare" the night was a magical one that took many back to their childhood. With a sold out show on night one, the New Kids came back to give Chicago more, on a night two that produced the same fabulous feeling for long-time fans. Many of the concert-goers, the majority of them women, remembered what it felt like to be 12 or 14 years old again, when nothing else mattered but their favorite boy band. The emotion the singers evoked, by just their presence alone was of a type that most of us, with children, husbands, careers, and responsibilities, forgot all about. Not only did the boys bring back childhood dreams, but they did it with style, class, and a lengthy stage show including elaborate lights and plenty of dance moves, old and new. Before they started though, they had a great British treat in their corner, to open up the night.
Natasha Bedingfield kicked each night of the tour off right using leverage of the fans' love for the New Kids. Between singing hits including "Pocketful of Sunshine," "These Words (I Love You, I Love You)," "Unwritten," and her new song "Angel." She also dedicated one of her tunes to all the loyal fans out there, who came back over a decade and a half later to show support for the main act. The move was a smart one, when performing before a sea of near 30-something women wearing neon and '80s style flair. Bedingfield's performance on the 4 th was completely clean and went off without a hitch, though on her second October night in Chicago, a few microphone glitches seemed to slow the momentum of her performance. Though she did seem a bit bothered, and her voice was a little tired, she pumped out every note as best she could, by the end, pulling off another pretty impressive show.
After the Brit beauty left the stage, she was available for autographs, and some fans ran off to meet her. Others grabbed their last drinks and bathroom breaks as an excited chatter filled the lit arena. As quickly as the lights fell again, a contagious scream fell over the crowd. The five New Kids rose from the back of the stage, opening with their latest hit with Ne-Yo, "Single". Having been still at the front end of the tour for the first Chicago show of the month, the men had a more confident air about them on the second Chicago show, which was evident. They portrayed themselves as stars that never left the fame behind several years earlier. The comfort level was there as they belted out oldie out after oldie, goodie after goodie. They hit all the right notes with "Hangin' Tough," "You Got It (The Right Stuff)," "Please Don't Go Girl," and "Step by Step." And not even Jordan failed to hit those fabulous falsettos he's famous for, which was more than impressive to say the least. Donnie proved he never missed a beat by bringing back that bad-boy stage exterior, as he demanded the crowd's attention with his voice and graceful way of sashaying across the stage. He seemed to be the front-man in the new journey the guys are taking, which showed in his performances of "Summertime," "Dirty Dancing," "Click Click Click" and "Put It On My Tab."
In a lengthy set that included 5 costume changes, tons of hits from the new #1 CD The Block, the guys even managed to take us back to the times when the guys went solo. Joey performed some of his hits and Jordan stood atop a stage in an open white button-up shirt with the wind blowing it open to "Give it to You". Joey even brought back his old school smiley-face jacket in one of the guys' fashion changes when they hit the small revolving stage at the back of the amphitheater.
Remembering a love that was never lost for the New Kids on the Block, is easy to do. Even if you didn't make it to one of the tour stops, you can get The Block in stores now, and you may be at the start of another new generation. Joey, not wanting to be quoted, made sure to announce on stage that they had many more songs to do and much more inside them, so we can only hope they'll take another few runs around the "block" before another sad, 15-year hiatus.