It was a celebration of an era that many cherish but others would prefer to forget.
Three famous boy bands — New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men — thrilled a mostly female audience with more than four hours of music, nostalgia and spectacle Tuesday night at the Tacoma Dome.
As an added bonus, The Package Tour, as it was billed, included a surprise appearance by iconic Seattle rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot, who launched his career in the ‘80s when boy bands were climbing the charts.
Fans who were preteens when New Kids on the Block and their imitators were launching their careers have grown up, married and started families and careers. But their enthusiasm for the sounds of the ‘80s hasn’t diminished, even if the screams are less piercing. Some held artifacts of their lives: a license plate reading “NKOTB,” a sign proclaiming “Four Years — Cancer Free.”
The three groups rewarded fans with a colorful evening of soaring ballads, silky choreography and dreamy nostalgia, enhanced by pyrotechnics, confetti and stage fog. The sound was excellent.
Opening appropriately with the new song “We Own Tonight,” NKOTB’s Donnie Wahlberg, Joey McIntyre, Danny Wood and brothers Jonathan and Jordan Knight performed in-the-round on an elaborate stage that featured rising platforms resembling pedestals.The set was loaded with new songs (from the current album, “10”) and old hits, among them “(You Got It) The Right Stuff” and “Step by Step.” Overall, the performance was far more polished than in the group’s heyday.
Costume changes were part of the tightly choreographed show. For “Survive You,” the boys/men appeared in suits and ties, adding an elegant, formal touch to the set. But later on, Wahlberg ripped apart his tank top for “Cover Girl,” causing the audience to erupt in screams.
“Baby, I Believe in You” opened a sultry medley featuring “Tender Love,” “Hot in Herre” and “Dirty Dancing.”
A flock of curvaceous women from the audience was escorted to the stage for Sir Mix-a-Lot’s performance of the Grammy-winning song, “Baby Got Back,” with its comical lyric, “I like big butts and I cannot lie.” The song added sass to a show that was heavy on romantic fluff.
McIntyre brought out his young son Griffin for a father-son moment that played right to the hearts of female fans who were moms themselves.
The group dedicated “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)” to fans who have followed the band for the last 25 years, no small feat considering the group’s more than 10-year hiatus beginning in 1995.
Band members proudly wore Boston Red Sox jerseys for “Shippin’ Up to Boston,” a tribute to the group’s hometown and the group’s origins in working-class neighborhoods.
Boyz II Men opened the show with a set featuring “On Bended Knee,” “End of the Road” and other past hits.
Dedicating its set to “all the sexy married women in the audience,” 98 Degrees sang such hits as “Girls Night Out,” “I Do (Cherish You)” and “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche).” The selection ranged from sentimental to syrupy.
- View a photo gallery of New Kids on the Block at the Tacoma Dome here.