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Story and Photos By Andy ArgyrakisMost major reunion tours have no trouble selling out the first time through town or during the inevitable victory lap. But it's increasingly rare for a group to be able to launch not only a third, but fourth leg of a comeback, which in the case of the New Kids on the Block, just touched down at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino for a three night stand. During opening night at the always inviting hall, the recently resurrected boy band brought the party at full tilt, though it was far from simply a flashback show thanks to a completely revamped look and sound.
Instead, the 80 million album selling group comprised of brothers Jordan and Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood opened with the club conquests "Lights, Camera, Action" and "Looking Like Danger" with a three member band and DJ that could've hopped straight off of Kanye West's tour bus. In fact, the group's latest CD The Block (Interscope) boasts tons of today's top pop and R&B stars, including Lady Gaga, Ne-Yo, Akon, Pussycat Dolls and even former arch-rivals New Edition.
Despite their fourteen years apart, the boys turned men were in fine vocal shape and showed off their chiseled bods, much to the delight of the entirely female audience. They dusted off "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" with some revamped grooves, but got right back into the current cuts with "Click, Click, Click" and "Dirty Dancing" (though the latter's blatant sexuality was less convincing than it would've been if the guys were still in their twenties).
In terms of the group's actual musical talent, a seated set carried by Wood on acoustic guitar and the others harmonizing live was sure to silence skeptics, especially on the lovelorn ballad "If You Go Away." But it was McIntyre who stole the show with his imitation of Freddie Mercury while covering the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," indeed a remarkably unpredictable and welcome non-NKOTB-like moment.
It wouldn't be the only time the group's unexpected affinity for Queen would pop up in the concert as that legendary act's "We Will Rock You" was interspersed with the guys' most famous song "Hangin' Tough." That track's mega-chorus and accompanying hand waving may have seemed juvenile two decades later, but as it closed the sweltering 90-minute set, it was obvious New Kids on the Block is still the supreme boy band capable of much more than the style's all too common clichés.
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