BOK Center – Tulsa, OK
Words/Photos By Steven Anthony.
After watching NKOTBSB dominate the American Airlines Center a few weeks ago, I decided that I had to see the show again and bring another friend along.
At Tulsa’s BOK Center this past Sunday night, the show remained largely the same. For over two hours the nine men sped through their biggest hits, taking time for both the more upbeat tracks and the slow jams that helped propel so many teenage girl fantasies years ago.
BSB’s “10,000 Promises” was a standout moment. With the four men raised on a scissor lift on the b-stage, each sang to a different section of the arena. The song, originally on 1997’s Backstreet’s Back, was never a major hit, but the guys delivered it with the same passion and heart reserved for their record breaking singles.
During “I’ll Never Break Your Heart”, the Backstreet Boys pulled some lucky ladies on stage. For the entirety of the song, each member sang to his respective audience member before ending with a hug and helping to escort the ladies back to their seats. This kind of fan service is what keeps boy band fans loyal for so long, and you can be sure that the ladies will never forget their night on stage with the boys.
Not wanting to be left out, NKOTB went out into the crowd during “Tonight”, raised on small platforms between the floor and the next highest section. This allowed them to be closer than ever to the fans that had no problem screaming to show how appreciative they were.
Other highlights included NKOTB’s “You Got It (The Right Stuff)”, “If You Go Away” and of course “Step by Step”. On the BSB front, the crowd devoured performances of “Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely”, “Incomplete” and “As Long As You Love Me”.
Backed by an incredible solid band, NKOTBSB never missed their mark vocally. While there are some key changes here and there, and some different arrangements, the songs remain the instantly recognizable hits that fans remember. Joey McIntyre took control over the crowd during a powerful performance of “Please Don’t Go Girl”, which included a run and slide down the stage’s long catwalk and lots of cheering from the crowd.
Jordan Knight was also impressive vocally, hitting his falsetto notes in “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)” like it was nothing. Many in the crowd seemed visibly shocked that the 41 year old could still nail the notes, but once they heard him they were more than happy to sing along.
At one point in the night someone in the crowd through a pair of panties with the words “Party Starter” written on them. This kept A.J. McLean and Howie Dorough entertained for a few mintes, posing with the underwear and trying to hit their vocal cues while laughing. When the guys came back out for the encore, Mr. McLean was wearing the panties over his pants, triggering about a million camera flashes and laughter throughout the arena.
For the encore, Backstreet Boys took the stage first with “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”. It was mixed with the chord progression of AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, and the song had literally everyone in the crowd singing along. Before long the lights dimmed and BSB left the stage. NKOTB appeared decked in Boston Celtics jerseys and as the opening synth line to “Hangin’ Tough” started, the crowd exploded with energy.
About halfway through the track the Backstreet Boys reappeared on the b-stage and the two lifts – one on the b-stage and one on the main stage – began rising towards the ceiling, each holding one of the two groups. What came next was a West Side Story styled song and dance battle, mashing up “Everybody” and “Hangin’ Tough” along with parts of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”.
As the scissor lifts lowered the two groups joined together in a huddle while confetti rained over the entire arena. It may have been a bit over the top, but it was a great way to end the show. As the house lights came up and the cleaning crew began the terrible job of sweeping up thousands of pieces of confetti, fans left the arena singing their favorite songs and smiling, probably planning another trip to see this show again.
While most pop acts are content just running through their songs and getting off the stage as quickly as possible, these two groups seem to be all about giving the crowd everything they want and then some. Coming out into the crowd is one thing, but even when the guys were on stage, they were all smiles. BSB crooner Brian Littrell spent so much of the night waving at people in the crowd and reaching down to shake hands that it’s surprising he didn’t miss any choreography cues.
Things like this keep the crowds coming back, and as long as New Kids On The Block and the Backstreet Boys continue performing in such a fan-pleasing way, you can bet that they will be around for years to come.
Setlist: Viva la Vida, Single/The One (NKOTBSB), Summertime (NKOTB), The Call (BSB), Dirty Dancing (NKOTB), Get Down (BSB), You Got It (The Right Stuff) (NKOTB), Larger Than Life (BSB), Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) (NKOTB), Valentine Girl (NKOTB), If You Go Away (NKOTB), Please Don’t Go Girl (NKOTB), Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely (BSB), 10,000 Promises (BSB), I’ll Never Break Your Heart (BSB), Drowning (BSB), Incomplete (BSB), Step By Step (NKOTB), Cover Girl (NKOTB), My Favorite Girl (NKOTB), Games (NKOTB), Tonight (NKOTB), Shape of My Heart (BSB), As Long As You Love Me (BSB), All I Have to Give (BSB), If You Stay (BSB), Raspberry Beret/Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) (BSB), I’ll Be Loving You Forever (NKOTB), I Want It That Way (BSB), Don’t Turn Out the Lights (NKOTBSB), Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)/We Will Rock You/Hangin’ Tough (NKOTBSB)