Liverpool Music: NKOTBSB at Echo Arena

byRachael Campbell | Apr 24, 2012

Best night of my life. The end…..I could happily leave the review at that but I’ll probably get in to trouble so I’ll expand. Last night saw the Echo Arena being taken over by what seemed like every woman under the age of 35 in the North West area for it was the return of the mighty New Kids On The Block and their (slightly) younger counterparts Backstreet Boys for the co-headlining NKOTBSB World Tour.The show began with a countdown for what felt like a life time before members of each band (minus Kevin Backstreet, sob) were revealed on stage to a chorus of deafening screams from an audience of women who, quite frankly should know better. The fans may have gotten older and may now have a gang of children at home but you certainly wouldn’t know from the level of excitement. The crowd, comprising mostly of fans who followed the boys first time around were ready to re-live their youth and have a great time and both bands did not disappoint! The boys, or should I say men opened with a mash up of New Kids ‘Single’ and BSB’s ‘The One’ which was mixed with Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’ – Sounds shocking but I promise you it was amazing. From the moment Nick Carter took to his vocals I was immediately sent hurtling back to 1999 and from that moment on, I was a screaming 12 year old. After this number, BSB vacated the stage (the devastation) and left New Kids to do ‘Summertime’. To begin with I wasn’t particularly looking forward to New Kids solo efforts as I’m not that familiar with a lot of their stuff as I was born just as the band were hitting the big time but that has all changed and I am now a die-hard Donnie Wahlberg fan or a ‘Donnie Girl’ as they were called back in ’89.
BSB returned to the stage in full concert get up and stomped in to ‘The Call’. A Strange choice of opening number I thought but it was great all the same. AJ McClean’s vocals were just as strong as I remember and the crowd literally went insane. Casting my expert eye over the boys I could see that the years had been kind to them. Nick Carter and Joey McIntyre still managed to look about 15 whilst Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood had been working on their bods and aside from some thinning hair and the odd expanding waistline the lads were looking good for a group of 30 and 40 somethings. Taking it in turns to churn out their hits, New Kids performed ‘Right Stuff’ complete with original dance moves imitated by the crowd in perfect unison. Some good old fashioned hip thrusting and abs-displaying completed this number and was followed by ‘Larger Than Life’ by BSB. The boys were constantly on the move and it was like watching a game at Wimbledon as I didn’t know where to look. If they weren’t popping out of the stage, they were being lifted in to the air on a podium or sliding down the catwalk. It was during ‘Larger than Life’ that Brian Littrel and I had a moment. I swear he waved at me and only me. The girl behind me tried to claim this wave as hers, as did my friend Jess but I’m afraid they were both clearly mistaken. New Kids returned to the stage and completed a mini-set of their hits that included ‘Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind)’, ‘Valentine Girl’, ‘If You Go Away’ and ‘Please Don’t Go Girl’. Jordan Knight’s vocals shine throughout and he was for me, the stand out vocalist of the entire show. It’s no surprise he has had the most successful solo career as his vocal range is staggering and his falsetto during ‘Didn’t I Blow Your Mind’, ‘Valentine Girl’ and later number ‘I’ll Be Loving You Forever’ showed that he has most defiantly still got it…Whatever ‘it’ is. ‘Please Don’t Go Girl’ showcased Joey McIntyre’s vocals and he also played homage to Liverpool by including some Beatles lyrics in to the song. The performance was a little dramatic to say the least but what did we expect from the biggest American boyband of all time?
New Kids took themselves off stage for a well earned rest (a couple of members we’re wheezing like they had run a marathon) and on came the mighty BSB for their main set of the night. The boys treated the crowd to full length versions of ‘Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely’, ‘I’ll Never Break Your Heart’, ‘Drowning’ and ‘Incomplete’. ‘Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely’ was missing my favourite member Kevin Richardson and I wasn’t going to let it lie – Gone but not forgotten Kev. ‘I’ll Never Break Your Heart’ and ‘Drowning’ were sickeningly cheesy but that’s why they were so brilliant! The boys didn’t try to pretend to be something they’re not and make their old stuff ‘cool’ and this instantly made them credible. Newer track ‘Incomplete’ saw Nick Carter show us his musical abilities as he took lead guitar and teased the girls in the front row with a riff or two. Throughout the show, both bands interacted brilliantly with the crowd and it was great to see that the years of touring and playing show after show hadn’t made them take the experience for granted. Still waving and pointing banners out in the crowd it was great to see. One group of lads had braved the all female crowd and were clearly die hard Backstreet fans and this didn’t go unnoticed by AJ McClean as he applauded their efforts. Audience interaction didn’t stop there as four lucky ‘ladies’ were pulled from the crowd to be serenaded during ‘I’ll Never Break Your Heart’. One particular candidate provided much entertainment due to her ummm ‘assets’. Unable to sit on the stool provided due to her tight fitting corset the lady in question proceeded to dirty dance with (my) Nick Carter and gave the Echo Arena a few laughs. Nick was a good sport and played along and provided one of the best moments of the night.
New Kids stepped (or flew) back on to stage for their second set comprising of ‘Step By Step’, ‘Cover Girl’, ‘My Favourite Girl’ and ‘Tonight’. ‘Cover Girl’ is my favourite New Kids song and it was expertly performed by Donnie with him sporting a rhinestone encrusted Liverpool FC shirt as Donnie is a huge LFC supporter. As quickly as he put on the shirt, he had whipped it off again and the shirt was thrown in to the crowd. During ‘Tonight’ the band sent themselves off in to the crowd accompanied by bodyguards the size of houses and quite rightly too as women were literally throwing themselves at the boys. After being practically ripped to shreds by the women of Liverpool, New Kids left the stage and Backstreet Boys returned with some of their biggest hits including ‘Shape Of My Heart’, ‘As Long as You Love Me’, ‘All I Have to Give’, ‘If You Stay’ and ‘Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)’. The songs were set to various backing tracks including ‘Empire State Of Mind’ and ‘Can You Feel It’ and although there is no denying that this worked and added a different dimension to the tracks I think I would have just liked to hear the original versions but hey, I’m a sentimental fool! Hearing ‘As Long as You love me’ live after the years of ‘hairbrush in the bedroom’ singing was quite a moment for me and I don’t think I was alone as you could barely hear the boys over the audience sing-along.
BSB left the stage and re-entered in true boy band style after donning white suits and hats and began ‘I Want It That Way’. By far my favourite Backstreet, I know for a fact that Nick Carter’s every lyric was aimed at me – Sorry girls but it’s true. New Kids joined Backstreet on stage for collaborative single ‘Don’t Turn Out The Lights’ and the track isn’t half bad. It wouldn’t be out of place in the current top ten and both parties sound great with the audience chanting ‘NKOTBSB’ and I’m not going to lie, I was probably leading it? Both bands seemed to genuinely enjoy each other’s company as they messed and joked about on stage throughout the track. Both bands left the stage together and returned for their encore separately. Backstreet Boys left their biggest hit ‘Everybody’ until last and gave the audience something to remember. During their performance, New Kids On The Block appeared and began their biggest hit ‘Hangin’ Tough’, performing with the energy of teenagers and putting today’s boy bands to shame. The boys joined forces for the finale and mashed up both tracks in a battle scenario with audience members having to decide what camp they were going in. When push comes to shove I favoured Backstreet Boys. Nick’s ‘Am I originaaaal?’ swung it for me.
Overall, the night was an amazing trip down memory lane, full of nostalgia but surprisingly it didn’t feel tacky and outdated. They were just as energetic and passionate as any current performers and the quality of the stage show was outstanding. My only problem was that I couldn’t decide on my favourite member? Standing side by side both parties bowed out and thanked the crowd for sticking with them and as Joey McIntyre stated ‘There are two generations here. To some, it’s 1989 again, and to some others, its 1999 again. … There’s no reason it has to stop.’ Here, here Joey, you were always my favourite.
SOURCE: http://www.liverpoolmusic.com/2012/04/24/nkotbsb-the-echo-arena/

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