Like youth itself rising from the ashes, New Kids on the Block, who brought their Total Package Tour to Quicken Loans last night, rose from the bowels of the arena stage at the start of the concert, shrouded in a smoke-machine induced haze.
You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here
They started off the set with “One More Night,” which segued into “My Favorite Girl," and then they quickly delivered the goods with “You Got It (The Right Stuff)," a track they punctuated with pelvic thrusting. They also knew how to pander to the crowd; Donnie Wahlberg changed the song's lyrics to “All that I wanted was Cleveland…and all that I needed was Ohio.”
The boyband then launched into “Remix (I Like The),” which further engaged the crowd and got the room pumped up to peak levels. Up next was “Block Party," a tune which came complete with a rapping Donnie. The guys spent most of the night on the stage extension, a winding maze that extended through a portion of the crowd. Suddenly, Donnie was on his back being lifted through the crowd as he rapped. At this point, all members broke off into the crowd, quite literally mounting themselves onto their fans as they sang “Tonight," climbing through aisles and serenading fans while taking selfies. Joey was even spotted holding someone’s baby.
The men made their way to the back of the arena, where there was a small stage. This is when they slipped on silky matching Members Only jackets to sweetly sing “Summertime.” Then, it was back over to the main stage for “Cover Girl.” Donnie climbed on top of a piano, and then the piano was on fire. He lifted his black tank top to showcase his chest and stomach, huffing and puffing his way through the track as flames soared around him. The crowd went bonkers.
Donnie screamed, “It’s Friday night in Believeland; that means we’re gonna party all night!” The band continued with “The Whisper," and then went backstage for a costume change. But the crowd didn’t have to miss them when they were gone because there was a camera on them as they changed. They stripped and hammed it up, and Donnie even made out with the camera. It was equal parts mortifying and sensational.
NKOTB delivered a relentless manic spectacle of abdominal muscles and piercing falsettos, and the set even featured mounds and mounds of falling confetti and five men singing songs they used to sing as a children. Donnie was clearly the personality of the crew. Jordan and Joey provided the eye candy with the true vocal talent. Danny came off as a pocket-sized body builder with a smile for miles.
NKOTB’s energy level never wavered once. At one point, Joey seemed in danger of spinning himself off into orbit as he furiously twirled like some sort of human/Tasmanian devil hybrid. The guys brought one fan on stage to sing her happy birthday and they group hugged her. They even made it snow as they performed their Christmas songs “Peace to the World” and “This One’s for the Children." Donnie told the crowd, “It’s ok, you can make up the words.”
They then went full nostalgia by filling the screens with their album cover photos from the '80s. Joey’s shining moment arrived when he performed the 1988 hit “Please Don’t Go Girl” from the stage at the back of the arena, singing his heart out on his knees, proving he still has what it takes to be an international pop superstar. The packed arena was freefalling back through time.
They kept it retro with “Step By Step," and Jordan announced, "We have been coming to Cleveland for 29 years. Thank you so much. We will be loving you forever.” This led into Jordan’s big solo “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever).” They closed the night with “Hangin’ Tough."
Paula Abdul performed all of her hits, reminding the crowd that she hasn’t toured in 27 years. But no one would've guessed because she sounded as polished as ever, a sequined dance expert with Pantene hair and tiny legs of steel. Her wow moment was during “Straight Up” when she climbed a ladder and dove off the top, perfectly landing onto the arms of her dancers. She engaged with fans as she told stories of her climb to fame, inspiring the crowd to always believe in themselves, “because life is short and so am I!”
Boyz II Men came off as the lullaby dreamboats they always have been, beautifully delivering tracks like “End of the Road” and “I’ll Make Love to You” during their opening set.