Sunday, June 30, 2013

NKOTB, 98 Degrees, Boyz II Men deliver whole 'package'

y Allison Walker, Entertainment Reporter

"Why the heck are there so many women downtown?"
That's a question I heard from passers-by more than once Friday evening. Aside from a smattering of men accompanying their dolled-up lady, downtown Orlando went boy band crazy.
Well, "man band" is more like it.
New Kids on the Block returned to a jam-packed Amway Center on "The Package" tour, which is about one-third of the way through its run. Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees opened for them.
Although Shawn, Wanya, and Nathan were the first act, they could've near filled up the place on their own. Even 98 Degrees is geeking out to be on tour with their idols. (Watch full interview Monday).
Boyz II Men crooned for about 40 minutes. With harmonies like “On Bended Knee,” "I'll Make Love to You," and “End of the Road," we felt like we were back at school, dancing with our crush for the first time. The Boyz still put the "power" in ballad.
Performing a longer set next was 98 Degrees. And talk about swagger. Even with suspenders draped over their rear ends, the men could've played pat-a-cake without losing a smidge of sex appeal.
So imagine what happened when Nick, Drew, Justin and Jeff walked into the audience and escorted four unsuspecting women on stage. The men not only serenaded them with "You Are My Everything," but squeezed them tightly. And when they got down on one knee -- fuggedaboutit.
Another stand-out song was "I Do (Cherish You)." The buff boys -- having maintained their most admirable physique -- stripped down to thin white tank tops. The response was deafening. But unlike the screams generated during a Bieber concert, these weren't annoying.
That's probably because I joined in.
Before NKOTB came out, we stepped away to grab some grub and refreshments. The instant that Joey, Jordan, Danny, Donnie and John opened their mouths, I've never seen so many 30-somethings sprint and squeal simultaneously, making a beeline for the stairs.
Funny how things don't change 25 years later.
The New Kids performed for about 2 hours. Wearing white blazers, sparkly "Boston Strong" shirts, and - at times - a shirtless Donnie Wahlberg with a blinged out belt, the men created hysteria.
The gyrations during "The Right Stuff" were probably more, let's say, "pronounced" than they were a few decades ago. After all, we aren't kids anymore.
Luckily for fans, the New Kids utilized the center stage quite a bit, creating a greater sense of intimacy. They were elevated by individual risers at times, which seemed to enhance the emotion of the song. The stage also spun, allowing the audience to "have a moment" with their favorite New Kid.
The choreography seemed effortless. After all, if you're an original boy bander, those slow, dramatic arm movements and clenched fists against the heart should be second-nature.
The youngest member, Joey McIntyre, kept reminding the audience that "it's been 25 years!" One of his strongest songs as a higher-pitched kid was "Please Don't Go Girl." When he performed it Friday, Joey was lifted high above the crowd, dropping to his knees to hit the tough notes.
He nailed it.
Needless to say, the boys - ahem, men - could do no wrong.