A Night of Nostalgia with the New Kids

state_nkotb_sm.jpgThat night, it didn’t matter if you were disappointed that your life hadn’t turned out exactly as you’d planned.







I think it’s safe to say that if you were a 13-year-old girl back in 1989, most likely you were a New Kids on the Block fanatic. And if you still love them today even half as much as you did way back then, then it’s also probably safe to say that you are one of the millions of 30-something women who eagerly counted down the days until the New Kids 2008 reunion tour (15 years in the making!) arrived at a city near you.

The New Kids performed to a packed house in St. Louis on November 10 at the Scottrade Center. But before even one note was sung, it was obvious to me from the moment I stepped inside the venue that many fans were already totally and completely caught up in the memories of years past. To my surprise (and sometimes horrific shock), thousands of female concertgoers came to the show dressed as though it was 1989, as if stuck in a time warp.

Now, I love the ’80s with all my heart, but let’s face it: most of the fashion from that era was truly atrocious. Polka dots, bright neon colors, big hair, crimped hair, side ponytails…you name it, and I saw it all that night. I really wonder how many of those diehard fans actually went out shopping purposely for Aquanet, just to make sure their hair stood still during the entire concert. While I totally understand their rabid enthusiasm for paying homage to such a wonderful time in their lives, most of the styles were way too much.

Frightful fashions aside, when the New Kids on the Block took the stage, the crowd went absolutely ballistic. Cameras continuously flashed and adoring screams were heard nonstop throughout the group’s two-hour performance. The guys opened the show singing the first few lines of "Single," their latest release, and the electrified audience immediately joined in. The shrieks of delight grew even louder as the Kids proceeded to perform all of their greatest hits, including "The Right Stuff," "Please Don’t Go Girl," "Step By Step," "Tonight," "My Favorite Girl," and many, many more.

For nearly 20 years, the New Kids have been the butt of constant jokes, derided for singing only bubblegum music and, therefore, lacking any real talent. But since their reunion was announced last spring, the frenzy over their comeback has clearly shown that fan dedication to the New Kids was and is about so much more than teenybopper infatuation. There truly is a special connection the guys have with their fans — a connection so strong and enduring that not only did the concert draw the chick-centric crowd as expected, but many women brought along their husbands, boyfriends and even kids to share in the experience. And everyone, male and female alike, enjoyed the party. I highly doubt even one person left the show feeling like they’d wasted their time.

The Kids closed the concert with an encore of "Hangin’ Tough," their signature hit song. The guys returned to the stage wearing Boston Celtics’ jerseys and instructed everyone to wave their hands in the air and sing along. And that’s exactly what we did, just like we used to back in the day when the guys ended their concerts that very same way. I remember always being so pumped after "Hangin’ Tough," and that night wasn’t any different. Seeing them perform that one song alone was worth the price of admission.

As I headed back to my car, what I really wanted to do was turn right around and go back inside for another New Kids on the Block show all over again. Everyone was so ecstatic to be reunited with our five favorite guys from Boston who brought so much joy and happiness to our teenaged lives. We truly hated to see our one night only trip down memory lane come to an end.

That night, it didn’t matter if you had five screaming kids waiting for you at home. It didn’t matter if you hated your job and dreaded having to show up there the very next morning. It didn’t matter if you were disappointed that your life hadn’t turned out exactly as you’d planned. Thanks to the New Kids, for a little over two hours on a chilly Monday night in November, all was right with the world. The hands of time rewound, and we all found ourselves among friends, some with whom we’d lost touch and some we’d only just met. All of us, though, were friends who’d come together to celebrate the magic of the magnificent memories of ourselves and the Kids.

That special night with the New Kids is one that I will certainly never forget. They’ve managed to hang tough all these years; here’s hoping they continue to do so in 2009 and beyond. | Retannical D. Russell

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