Live review: New Kids on the Block @ Fiddler's Green AmphitheatreBy John Wenzel | July 16th, 2009 | 5 comments
Shiny suits and a polished routine were in full supply when Danny Wood, Joey McIntyre, Jordan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg and Jonathan Knight — a.k.a. New Kids on the Block — played Fiddler’s Green Wednesday. Photos by Tina Hagerling.
How much do New Kids on the Block fans love their aging boy band? Enough to ditch their husbands on their wedding anniversaries, according to one fan whose text message blazed across the screen at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre on Wednesday night.
The concert, the New Kids’ second in the metro area in only eight months, drew a less-than-capacity crowd to the hulking venue in Greenwood Village (the lawn area was completely empty), but the thousands that did show up meant business. “I kissed Donnie (Wahlberg) on the mouth,” said Beth Frisbie, who paid $400 for a dinner-and-drinks package with the band. “Actually, he kissed me because I was just going for a hug.”
In addition to the meet-and-greet, Frisbie and a few other superfans received goodie bags (complete with New Kids towels, lip balm and a pair of shorts) and a “Five Star VIP Pass.” It was a sign of commitment to a band that’s been touring the country, to mixed crowds, since re-forming in 2007 after an initial 1994 breakup.
None of that mattered Wednesday night as fans streamed into the venue in homemade T-shirts with pink posters, oversized vintage buttons and a knowing giddiness that wavered between ironic nostalgia and hysterical tears.
After a montage of the five members’ childhood photos, the pyrotechnics and coordinated dance moves kicked in, the members taking the stage in shiny gray suits to the song “Full Service” from their 2008 comeback album, “The Block.” It was a more overtly sexual version of a group that made its name on cutesy love ballads, and the juxtaposition was harsh.
Red flames and a quartet of female backup dancers filled the stage for the vaguely sexual R&B-pop of “Summertime.” “My Favorite Girl” brought it back to 1988, sounding every bit its years and redolent of the synth-driven hit factory from which it sprang.
The giant hanging disco ball may have been new, but according to one fan, the dance moves on the older songs were pure vintage. Member Jonathan Knight was noticeably stiff, but once a faster, beat-heavy version of the hit “The Right Stuff” started, the band seemed to loosen.
Donnie Wahlberg (or D Dub, as he was announced on the big screen) substituted the word “Denver” for “you” anywhere he could. Predictably, the din of the audience was matched only by the blinding fireworks that shot from the corners of the stage. There were few songs that didn’t involve some colorful spectacle, even if it was just Walhberg wiping sweat off his face and flicking it at an adoring fan pressed against the front of the stage.
A surprisingly good cover of the Delfonics’ “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” (a live staple) featured Jordan Knight’s soaring falsetto, followed by a jarring “Dirty Dancing” that had the boys in full-on sexual mode again, grinding their backup dancers against a sheet of digital flames and booming bass.
The remainder of the show seesawed between these types of shameless displays (Danny Wood breakdancing during the song “Games,” an amusing middle finger to critics and haters) and odd interludes. A Michael Jackson tribute montage – replete with an instrumental cover of “Man in the Mirror” – was followed by the band members stealing into the audience for a botched-lyrics version of new track “Single.”
“Cover Girl” and “Popsicle” punctuated the solo portion of the show, giving old school fans a lift. And really, who wasn’t an old school fan? New Kids on the Block know they cemented their fan base years ago, and the fans have been hanging tough ever since.
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John Wenzel is the co-editor of Reverb, editor of the Get Real Denver blog and an arts and entertainment reporter for The Denver Post. His book “Mock Stars: Indie Comedy and the Dangerously Funny” was recently published by Speck Press.
Tina Hagerling is a Denver-based freelance photographer and web designer. See more of her work here.