By Carol Cling
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Posted: Mar. 9, 2012 | 2:02 a.m.Jordan Knight's been hitting the charts for more than two decades.
And while he'll always be a Kid at heart, the former lead singer of New Kids on the Block has some "Unfinished" business to attend to: his current solo tour, "Jordan Knight: Live & Unfinished," which continues a 20-city run Saturday at Mandalay Bay's House of Blues.
With a stop in Los Angeles prior to this weekend's Vegas visit, followed by one in San Francisco, it's "West Coast triangulation" time for the singer.
It's also a chance for Knight to do a different kind of show than the one he did last year: a successful arena tour that teamed New Kids on the Block with fellow boy-band favorites Back Street Boys.
"It's not such a regimented tour," Knight says of this year's solo-headliner gig. And while he enjoys both, "I almost like these kinds of dates better," he acknowledges. "I feel a little freer."
Not that audiences should expect a bare-bones presentation.
"It's not just me and a DJ -- or me and a guitarist," Knight says during a telephone interview. "It's definitely a production," complete with four backup musicians and two dancers.
The dancers fit right into the heavily choreographed show, which features even fancier footwork than last year's New Kids tour, he notes.
"I do get more intricate with the choreography because I really love dancing," Knight says. "But I'm not going too far off from what you would see at a regular New Kids concert."
In other words, expect "singing and dancing and catchy tunes."
As for those catchy tunes, the majority of them are from Knight's post-Kids solo career.
"Everyone will ask for a New Kids song, and I do that as well, but 95 percent is solo stuff that my fans really know," he says.
Most of those are from last year's "Unfinished," Knight's first collection of new pop tunes in more than a decade -- including such fan favorites as "Up & Down" and "O-Face," along with such singles as the up-tempo "Let's Go Higher" and "Stingy." (The latter also featured Knight's fellow New Kid Donnie Wahlberg.)
Knight also plans to perform selections from his previous albums, including "Give It To You," a top-10 single from Jordan's self-titled 1999 solo debut album, which sold more than a million copies and earned a Best Dance Video nomination at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Singing his own songs, in a more intimate setting, took a bit of adjustment following last year's New Kids/Back Street Boys arena trek, Knight says.
At this point, however, he's made the adjustment, and "I really like it," he says. "The energy is still there," especially in a pack-'em-in venue like the House of Blues.
Besides, this is Vegas -- and Vegas audiences are "there to have a good time," whether they're from Las Vegas or not, Knight observes. "A lot of people are from out of town, so it's not really a local vibe."
But when "you're coming to play in a town that wants good entertainment, you have to bring it strong in Vegas," he adds. "There's a lot of entertainment to choose from."
By now, though, Knight has plenty of experience to draw on.
During New Kids' heyday in the '80s and '90s, the pioneering boy band released six albums that sold more than 80 million copies around the world.
And that was "back in the day, 20 years ago," when "there were only three or four channels on TV" to promote New Kids and their recordings, Knight says. "Now, there's like a hundred."
To say nothing of all the social-networking channels that make it easier for newcomers to "get discovered," he notes.
After all, "Justin Bieber got discovered on YouTube," Knight points out. "But if he wasn't talented," he adds, he never would have gone beyond YouTube, because "you gotta have the goods."
More than 20 years after New Kids on the Block showed they had the goods, Knight welcomes the chance to keep proving himself, even though "I'm not trying to distance myself" from the past.
"I'm a New Kid. I'm not trying to be anything different," Knight maintains. But "there's a certain sense of accomplishment in doing it on my own."