Entertainment Music

Review

New Kids bring Total Package to ACC

By Jane Stevenson, Postmedia Network

Entertainment Review

Total Package Tour

4 stars

  • Artist: New Kids On The Block/Paula Abdul/Boyz II Men
  • Location: Air Canada Centre
TORONTO - 

There’s a good reason New Kids On The Block have aged so well.

The '80s-era Boston boy group, who pulled into the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night for the first of two shows on their Total Package Tour, don’t take themselves too seriously.

They play up their collective hunk factor by stripping down to black tank tops as soon as possible (except for Jonathan Knight, who remained in a black T-shirt) during Remix (I Like The); they’re not adverse to performing Chippendales-like gentle thrusting dance moves during The Right Stuff; they gleefully dredge up their old teen pop idol photos with tongue-in-cheek commentary including their horoscope signs; and even gamely performed a couple of long forgotten Christmas songs.

“It’s OK - we don’t know the words either!” said fan fave Joey McIntyre as NKOTB offered up Peace to the World and This One’s for the Children.

They also trotted out some really bad videos from the ‘90s, “when grunge came along and you didn’t like us anymore,” and had illustrations of eggplants and hot dogs accompany the song Hard (Not Luvin’ U).

Their nearly two-hour concert also didn’t let up in terms of pace and gimmicks as confetti exploded by the second song My Favourite Girl, followed by flame bursts, streamers, more confetti, a rising stage in the middle of their catwalk, a behind-the-scenes camera catching them hamming it up while making a mid-show costume change; and a smaller b-stage at the back of the floor.

Bells and whistles aside, NKOTB - rounded out by Donnie Wahlberg (who hasn’t met a Canadian flag he doesn’t want to drape around his body), Jordan Knight and Danny Wood - spent lots of time connecting with fans.

They even performed Tonight right in the crowd at the bottom of the stands - Wahlberg actually stage dove and crowd surfed during the previous song Block Party - as they made their way back to the b-stage for Summertime and Games (with Wood breakdancing during the latter).

“If you came here to celebrate without any fear or reservation, put the peace sign up in the air!” said Wahlberg, in an apparent reference to concert safety in this post-Manchester terrorism world we now live in.

He later pulled two different adorable little girls up on the catwalk during Cover Girl, and the entire group sang Happy Birthday to a well-toned woman who took exception to one of them saying she had great muscles “for a girl.”

“For a girl?” she countered. “For everyone!”

Turns out, she was a cop from Buffalo and, as one of them admitted, “You could kick my ass!”

Other song highlights included The Whisper, Please Don’t Go Girl - with McIntyre dropping to his knees on the b-stage to belt out the ballad - and Step By Step.

“Toronto is like a second home,” said Jordan as the show was winding down with the ballad I’ll Be Loving You Forever.

“We’ve been coming here for 29 years - can you believe it?”

Judging from the constant, loud and downright aggressive screaming around me all night long, I can.

Openers Boyz II Men, who also appeared on The Package Tour four years ago with 98 Degrees and NKOTB, and Paula Abdul, who hasn’t toured in a quarter-century, produced a far tamer if still solid reception.

The smooth R&B harmonies of ‘90s Philly act Boyz II Men on such uptempo songs as Motownphilly and ballads like On Bended Knee, I’ll Make Love To You (during which they actually handed out individual roses) and End Of The Road, were a stark contrast to the ‘80s dance-pop of Abdul, emphasis on dance. (And Boyz II Men’s attempts at such rock covers as Lenny Kravitz’s Are You Gonna Go My Way, The Guess Who’s American Woman and Bruno Mars’ more soul-driven Locked Out Of Heaven didn’t exactly set the place on fire.)

Abdul, a positivity-promoting and chatty presence, made one glamorous costume change after another, for every tune in her six-song, half-hour set backed by a half-dozen dancers.

It seemed as if she was testing out a ready-for-Las Vegas revue made up of her hits Opposites Attract, Rush Rush, Straight Up and Forever Your Girl and judging from the look of it - she flung herself off the top of a ladder and into the waiting arms of her dancers at the end of Straight Up - she may be onto something.

She also preached believing in and loving yourself as she told her L.A. Lakers tryout story, during which she auditioned three times in the same day, after being cut twice, thanks to two additional outfits, different hairstyles, and changing her name each time, before she actually made it.

Paula, you had me at hello.

SET LISTS

Boyz II Men

  • Motownphilly
  • On Bended Knee
  • It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday
  • Water Runs Dry
  • Are You Gonna Go My Way/American Woman/Locked Out of Heaven
  • I’ll Make Love to You”
  • In the Still of the Night
  • A Song for Momma
  • One Sweet Day
  • End of the Road

 

Paula Abdul

  • The Way That You Love Me
  • Cold Hearted
  • Opposites Attract
  • Rush Rush
  • Straight Up
  • Forever Your Girl

 

NKOTB

  • Intro
  • One More Night
  • My Favorite Girl
  • Dirty Dancing
  • You Got It (The Right Stuff)
  • Remix (I Like the)
  • Block Party
  • Tonight
  • Summertime
  • Games
  • All I Do Is Win
  • Cover Girl
  • The Whisper
  • Stop It Girl
  • Popsicle
  • Be My Girl
  • I Wanna Be Loved by You
  • Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)
  • Call It What You Want
  • Valentine Girl
  • Happy Birthday
  • You Got the Flavor
  • Dirty Dawg
  • Never Let You Go
  • If You Go Away
  • Peace to the World
  • This One’s for the Children
  • Still Sounds Good to Me / Hard (Not Luvin’ U)
  • Single
  • Please Don’t Go Girl
  • Thankful
  • Step by Step
  • I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)
  • Hangin’ Tough / We Will Rock You