As soon as I heard that New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys have joined forces to stage a world tour last year, I have been praying really hard for them to come to Manila. Wishes really do come true because several months ago, I learned that they were going to stage a performance at the newly constructed SM Arena. Problem was, the prices were a bit steep and my pals thought I was lame to want to go to a concert of aging boy groups that I worshiped in my teens. No matter, I still held out hope and finally, I convinced my college buddy Era to go with me. I was thinking I wouldn’t be satisfied until I had someone to share my excitement with at the concert so I was glad that she finally said yes. Good thing too because last night was actually the final stop of the guys’ world tour, which made the night all the more special.
So, the concert was finally a go and people were lining up near the entrance as early as 5:30pm (The concert wasn’t until 8 pm) and the lines were starting to grow longer by the minute. I was already waiting in line by 6 pm but Era was running a bit late because of traffic. Inside, I was already tensing up because I didn’t want to fall in line over again if the tickets didn’t make it by the time I reached the entrance but thankfully, Era, her friend Nena and her cousin Carlo arrived in the nick of time and we were able to enter without any hassle. It was abit of a challenge to find good seats (We bought General admission tickets) but we finally settled on seats near the side of the stage. We weren’t really expecting to see much but boy were we in for a surprise.
The concert started a bit late (around 9 pm) and the front acts kept us occupied until the Kids and the Boys were ready. We initially thought that the stage was too simple compared to other stages that they performed in in other countries but their production team really made it work. Also, their videographers were top notch so what we can’t see close up we could view on the giant screen from the back of the stage and they looked awesome.
The crowd went nuts when the guys took the stage, and for good reason. Their performance level was world class and it seemed like they didn’t age by the way they were moving around and performing. The sound wasn’t the best but I blame this entirely on the poor sound system. It’s such a shame because the guys were hitting the notes in precision, all while doing their dance routines, which isn’t an easy task.
The greatest part is really the chemistry. These were two boy bands who took over the charts in separate times — NKOTB in the 80s and the BSB in the 90s but they really worked well together in their combined performances and their group solos. Donnie Wahlberg (who is now an actor starring in Blue Bloods), was running up and down the stage and jumping around like he was in his early 20s and Joey McIntyre, who was 15 when he joined NKOTB was as adorable as ever. Jordan Knight, the heartthrob of the group aged pretty well and so did his shy brother Jonathan and the ultimate breaker Danny Wood.
Not to be outdone, the Boys took over the stage with one of their most popular hits Get Down, and continued on with hit after hit. I initially wanted to list them all down but I was too busy enjoying the concert that I lost track eventually.
Standout performances belonged to Joey McIntyre who performed Please Don’t Go Girl to perfection while Jordan answered towards the finale with his falsetto I’ll Be Loving You Forever. Of course, Step by Step got the crowd going while almost all BSB songs which had more of a pop feel got the audiences to their feet. I swear I could hardly hear any of the opening bars of the song because of the really heavy screaming. My favorites were actually, Larger than Life, Quit Playin Games with My Heart and the phenomenal Backstreet’s Back. Nick Carter was a ham through and through and was truly fearless in diving into the crowd to be hugged and kissed and pulled any which way by adoring fans who paid a good portion of their salaries to get front row seats. He seemed to be enjoying himself the most among everybody and the guys pretty much let him have his way perhaps, because he was the youngest of the lot.
I was actually quite amazed that at some point of the concert, all of the guys went to the crowd to interact with them. BSB’s Nick, AJ, Brian and Howie D even got girls from the audience to sing to them. Even NKOTB went to audience to deliver a performance. This is crowd interaction at its finest, for sure.
What I really liked about the performances was that they were all very well rehearsed. All the numbers had excellent blocking and choreography, that anyone could appreciate even for people like us who were at the fartherst corner. This is awesome because this shows a great respect for the crowd they are performing for because they are truly giving people their money’s worth. Also, the guys were obviously having fun on stage which really translates in their performances and infects the crowd. I am currently hoarse from all the screaming and the yelling and I probably sprained my ankle from jumping too much but I really don’t care because I had loads of fun. The guys of BSB, who have been together for 19 years (I’ve been their fan for the better part of that time) also had great respect for their predecessors, the NKOTB who have been together for more or less 25 years which was made clear by AJ’s speech towards the end saying that they were honored to have shared the stage with the much older group. All of them genuinely seemed to like each other because I really don’t think that any bad blood could be faked by the amount of brotherly love they projected for each other.
I’m glad that I watched the concert which turned out to be the final stop of the NKTOBSB World Tour. The two and a half hour long performance was not just worth every penny but is really a once in a lifetime experience for a die hard fan like myself. But even for non-fans, I am sure that they would have appreciated the technicalities of excellent live singing and dancing as well as the top notch stage effects. Every seat was the best seat in the house for the NKOTB concert. Not only did they perform all of their hits but they executed it brilliantly. Emerging boy bands would do well to study their performances to learn a thing or two about how its really done. After the lights have dimmed and the encore was over, the only thing left in my mind was — N.K.O.T.B.S.B!…N.K.O.T.B.S.B!…N.K.O.T.B.S.B!…N.K.O.T.B.S.B!