New Kids On The Block
The boyband revival fad continues as US five-piece hit Belfast
New Kids On The Block exploded onto the pop scene in 1984 - the first white boyband of many to come. They breakdanced and harmonised their way into our hearts through the 80s and early 90s with songs like 'Cover Girl' and 'I'll be Loving You (Forever)'.
Girls as young as five (like myself) kissed posters of Jordan, Joey, Donnie, Johnathon and Danny before bed time and dreamed of the unatainable. But in 1994 New Kids were no longer hangin' tough and decided to call it a day, only to be replaced by a plethora of new baby-faced boybands who managed to fill the gap, but were never really the right stuff.
In 2008 New Kids - no longer kids but husbands and fathers - reformed off their own bat, much to the delight of their hardcore fans. It's fair to say that most cynics were doubtful that the New Kids would be a hit the second time around. I awaited new single 'Summertime' with cringe at the ready.
But the Kids have moved on and matured. They no longer do dance routines on stairs or flash their bare chests in music videos (unfortunately). I fell in love with their new pop sound, mixed wih a fresher R 'n' B style, and their new look based on suits with no ties.
In anticipation of their Odyssey Arena show, I download their new album and go through their back catalogue, memorising lyrics in the hope that the delectable Jordan might ask me up on stage to sing with him and the band.
Although the Odyssey stage has been wheeled forward a little, any fears that the New Kids' first Belfast show might fail to entice the crowds are soon extinguished. The majority of tonight's audience are original fans, women in their 20s right up to their 50s, giggling excitedly like the kids they used to be.
As soon as the stage screen lights up with the letters NKOTB the screaming begins. We're teased with a showreel of the Kids in their heyday, and new song 'Single' opens the show.
Throughout the evening the band effortlessly mix the old with the new, performing classics like 'Step By Step' alongside new album tracks 'Dirty Dancing' and 'Click Click Click'. Of course the lyrics are still classic boyband cheese. But then that's the whole point of the boyband - to sing sweet cliched nothings to us and make us believe that men really can be romantic.
The crowd go wild when the boys play their most successful song, 'The Right Stuff', complemented with a classic dance routine. It's clear that although the new tracks are popular, the oldies are still the best.
This having been my first experience of a boyband concert I'm incredibly impressed. The energy of both the band and the audience is infectious, and by the time the New Kids play their last song, I never want the show to end. And thankfully it doesn't. The Kids are value for money, performing not one but two encores. Jordan pulls off some brilliantly 80s dance moves; 'Hangin Tough' the Kids perform in full Boston Celtics gear.
Of course it has to end, and it does with a huge bang as confetti fills the air and the New Kids thank Belfast profusely. New Kids On The Block are a welcome return to the pop scene. You know what they say - you never forget your first love.