Monday, March 13, 2023

Review of NKOTB at the Houston Rodeo

New Kids on the Block played their first official show of 2023 at Rodeo Houston last Tuesday night!

This was the set list: 
  • Block Party
  • My Favorite Girl
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Summertime
  • Cover Girl
  • The Right Stuff
  • Remix (I Like The)
  • Please Don't Go Girl
  • Games
  • Tonight
  • Girls Just Wanna Have Fun/Poison/I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)/Shook Me All Night Long/Livin' On a Prayer (singalong)
  • Deep in the Heart of Texas
  • Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy (featuring Tio Choko)
  • I'll be Loving You (Forever)
  • Step by Step/Push It
  • Hangin' Tough/We Will Rock You
Here are some videos from the show!

Video courtesy of A Being

Video courtesy of The Mena House

Here are a few articles/reviews: 

Culture Map Houston 

Houston Press

Paper City

Houston Chronicle:

New Kids on the Block at Houston Rodeo: From the Astrodome to NRG Stadium

NKOTB-mania was in full effect. Groups of women roamed the grounds in matching NKOTB T-shirts. Vendors inside NRG Center blasted classic NKOTB hits.

New Kids on the Block performs in concert during Rodeo Houston at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at NRG Stadium on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 in Houston.Karen Warren/Staff photographer

This was New Kids on the Block's first RodeoHouston. But it's definitely not, as the saying goes, their first rodeo. 

The enduring boy band is probably the most qualified act, with the exception of Garth Brooks, to play such a huge venue. At its height, NKOTB was one of the biggest acts in the world. The group amassed a fiercely loyal following of "Blockheads," spawned a record-breaking TV special, everything from backpacks to dolls and even a Saturday morning cartoon. 

They paved the way for Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC and One Direction and regularly played massive venues, including the former home of RodeoHouston.

"I just want to say what an honor it is to play in this amazing stadium, 'cause honestly it feels like yesterday, on Aug. 20, 1990, when we played at the old football stadium, the Houston Astrodome," Donnie Wahlberg told the cheering crowd.

"All those years ago, you treated us with so much love, and you're doing it again tonight."

Even before the show, NKOTB-mania was in full effect. Groups of giddy women roamed the grounds in matching NKOTB T-shirts. ("I'm not old, I'm vintage" was a favorite.) Vendors inside NRG Center blasted classic NKOTB hits.

Joey McIntyre showed appreciation at a local Starbucks. Jonathan Knight took in the Livestock Show. 

"The spirit in this city for the last few days has touched our hearts. It's inspired us," Wahlberg told the crowd of 59,032.

The group took the stage in matching black and white, a mix of cowboy hats, sequins and snaps. Wahlberg said he challenged himself to keep the hat on for the whole show but traded it for an Astros ball cap to lead the audience through "Deep in the Heart of Texas." He was then joined by Jordan Knight and Tio Choko, the pelvic-thrusting Tik Tok star from Houston, for a bit of "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)"

That segment typified NKOTB's unique appeal. They're hammy and campy and fun — exactly what their fans want. Wahlberg in particular has honed in on it all. He teasingly lifts his shirt. He shakes his behind. He makes every fan feel as if he's speaking directly to them. 

It wouldn't work as well if the guys weren't such engaging entertainers. They opened with "Welcome to the Block Party" and rose on the stage's five star points. "My Favorite Girl" and "I'll be Loving You (Forever)" showcased Jordan Knight's still-potent falsetto. "Dirty Dancing" was preceded by the movie's iconic "Nobody puts Baby in the corner" scene. The entire stadium swooned in unison. Every song was a singalong.

The guys recreated the uh-oh dance from "The Right Stuff (You Got It)" music video and added some extra hip thrusts.

"We wanna hear you get wild!" Wahlberg commanded. He really didn't even have to ask.

He introduced "Please Don't Go Girl," the group's 1988 breakout single, as "the song that made the Astrodome possible and made this night possible." McIntyre was barely a teenager when he recorded the song's lead vocals in a sweet, chirpy voice that made it a hit. Now 50, he can still hit those highs but also stretched out the song to fit his experience.

All five members jumped offstage during "Tonight," a Beatles-esque ode to their fans. They posed for photos and snapped selfies. They gave out hugs. One of them uttered, "Howdy, ma'am." Wahlberg took it a step further, jumping the rails to mingle with a crowd of frenzied fans. 

"Step by Step," the group's biggest hit, gave way to a bit of Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It." Closer "Hangin' Tough"  morphed into Queen's "We Will Rock You" and back again. But the biggest surprise? That it took RodeoHouston this long to get NKOTB onto the rotating stage.

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