We’re Gonna Put You in a Trance with a Funky, Funky Christmas: A Night Seeing the New Kids at 41/Long Last

It was sad to miss Boyz II Men’s entrance and opening with one of my all-time favorite songs, “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” But it was also awesome, because I heard it with my friend Jackie, who’d brought us to the Pepsi Center in the first place.

“Do you want to go with me to see New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men, and Paula Abdul next week?” she’d asked me at a graduation party last Saturday, after bursting forth from the ether.

I didn’t have any money for concert tickets but as luck would have it, Jackie had an extra ticket but no transportation, so I drove and this led us to trying to find two seats in 318 after rather lackadaisically making our way to Denver this evening.

I was sad to not be in the stadium (arena?) for this ostensibly momentous occasion, but also felt like it was already epic: fast-walking with a friend I’d only known since moving to Colorado to see friends that I’d known for decades, but only through CDs and cassettes.

Boyz II Men didn’t perform for that long, because it was (SPOILER! Supposed to be) a three-act show. But the time they were on stage was mesmerizing and I’d have loved for it to last longer. Alas, we’d come to the end of the road, which they closed with of course and it was beautiful.

Next up, Paula Abdul! Only wait! “Ms. Paula Abdul has suffered a minor injury and will not be performing tonight,” said a man on stage. I totally thought he was kidding! But no. Paula Abdul didn’t perform tonight and I didn’t realize the level of Jackie’s disappointment until she told me later. Super sad.

On the plus side, we ran into Jen during the impromptu intermission outside!  Jen loves country music, knows more hip-hop lyrics than anyone I’ve ever met, and in general is diverse af. We took a selfie, then moved back inside.

There is no need to discuss how getting back up the staircase was like the Incline for me. I for sure did not stop at any point to catch my breath.

“Oh oh, OH oh oh! Oh oh, OH oh! Oh oh OH oh oh!” (The Right Stuff.)

Once again, Jackie and I were not inside the auditorium(?) for the first song. But then we were and I would have danced of course, but my fear of heights was a little intense.

Tonight was 29 years in the making for me. The first time I ever saw New Kids was in my Baldwin house in 1988 on MTV. I was immediately in love with all five of them, and the rest is a whole rich history for another day. Bate your breaths. However, I’d never seen New Kids live because I gave my ticket away to Mary Kate in 1990, since I was convicted in the heart to shun secular music.

Not tonight though! And it was so worth the wait. I’m hard pressed to think of any artist I’ve seen live who was so engaged with the fans. Don’t get me wrong, Lisa Loeb was amazing when I saw her last month, but that was an intimate setting. To be in this huge coliseum(?!) and make it feel personal somehow? A feat unto itself.

They ran around the entire main floor. Donnie CROWD SURFED. A woman named Summer filled 13,000 hearts with envy when Jon sang Happy Birthday to her and she hugged all five New Kids and took a selfie with them on stage. Donnie did “Cover Girl,” filling my heart with glee, and during it they brought a little girl with big noise-reducing headphones on stage. She was shy. It was adorable.

New Kids also paid homage. Donnie, who’s a wonderful front man for what’s really an ensemble, classily led a “Put your peace signs in the air” song and cheerleadered the audience into defying negativity. Possibly my favorite moment of the whole night. They also did an Oscars-esque requiem for artists who’ve died, starting with Prince.

“They (New Kids) basically do a strip show!” reported a woman with awesome unicorn hair in the Kum and Go where Jackie and I stopped in before the show to get cash, coffee, and as luck would have it, camaraderie.

Tonight wasn’t “Magic Mike,” witness: aforementioned children, but holy cow do the New Kids put on an impressive show, physically. They are so engaged with their present audience, but I can’t even begin to fathom the number of hours it took for their choreography, their mixes, their presence to be what it was tonight. 

Jordan cried at one point. So did Joey. It was beautiful.

Speaking of strippers, I don’t know if this is a thing at concerts now because I’m exactly the OG target audience of New Kids (middle aged), but at one point, they did a Live Cam backstage, and it was the most “Hanging Tough” VHS documentary part of the entire evening. (Oh, U bad!)

It all felt like a Broadway show, in a good way. 120 minutes of nonstop physical performance and the guys ALL brought it. They could have phoned it in. They so did not (TM Ross Geller).

Another song was dedicated to a lost friend. Donnie, Danny, Joey, Jon, and Jordan made it clear that his life was never going to stop being celebrated.

New Kids truncated most of their songs and it felt absent of ego, and all about giving their fans a taste of everything, so as not to leave out anyone.

“It’s always Christmas in New Kids land!” <—— actual words said by Joey. 

Followed by snowflakes on the screen as the New Kids sang a song from their Christmas album because yes there was one and yes it was in my Christmas stocking in 1988 but no, Danny did not sing “Little Drummer Boy” tonight. Nor, sadly, did New Kids perform “Funky, Funky Christmas.”

But it was great to see them poke fun at their past/s, as all their album covers were a continued background theme through the evening. For all the fans who stayed till the end, New Kids put on old videos and gave the elderly women (me) with bedtimes (Jackie) (she is not elderly though) a way to nostalgize without having to dance to physical extremes.

The New Kids were so gracious and loving towards Colorado! At one point, they busted out a 58 jersey and I don’t know who 58 is but recognized it was Broncos, and the crowd went nuts!

Donnie won my heart all over again, decades after saying he hated eggs and loved the color orange, when he raised an eyebrow literally and figuratively: “One or two of you may not have liked us anymore at this time,” as he introduced “Dirty Dawg.”

By the end of the evening, all the New Kids had costume changed into denim ensembles and finally, white suits. Although they’d filmed the first switch, I have NO idea when they made the final transition.

The entire evening was impeccable. Flawless, invigorating, insert all the glowing terms.

Yes, they ended with “Hanging Tough,” and yes, Joey sang “Please Don’t Go Girl,” albeit in a disturbingly low octave because apparently between 1988 and now lies The Puberty. Also, please see: aforementioned crying.

I’m not mocking; I’m still reeling.

Thank you, New Kids on the Block. Jordan said tonight that you guys came to Denver for the first time 29 years ago. Thank you for coming back.

Thank you, Jackie. I never would have experienced tonight without you!


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