Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees and New Kids on the Block play to loyal fans at Consol

Concert review


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As New Kids on the Block member Joey McIntyre belted out the final chords of the band's first hit, "Please Don't Go, Girl," in Consol Energy Center Tuesday night, the image of a woman holding a neon green poster in the crowd flashed across the big screen.

"I'll wait another 20 years," the poster read.

The bold letters said it all for fans who came to see Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees and New Kids on the Block take the stage two decades after their prime for this summer's Package Tour performance in Pittsburgh. Their followers may no longer be slow dancing in high school gymnasiums with their first crushes, but they are still loyal to their favorite boy bands of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Consol Energy Center staff converted all but two of its men's restrooms to women's bathrooms for the night to accommodate the mostly female audience, and women in their late 20s and 30s were ready to scream with all the energy of their teenage selves.

Boyz II Men performed for a short 30 minutes, but they wooed the crowd from the moment they stepped on stage in slick white suits to open with "On Bended Knee." Group members Shawn Stockman, Nathan Morris and Wanya Morris stuck to their signature moves through the performance, tossing red roses into the audience and kissing hands while they sang their classic "I'll Make Love to You." In the shower of rose petals falling from the ceiling, the rich vocals and harmonies that made Boyz II Men one of the most iconic R&B groups in music history were also true to their former glory.

The three men prompted the crowd to sing along to old hits such as "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" and "Motown Philly." As the crowd finished the lyrics to "End of the Road," Wanya Morris laughed and said to his band mates, "Sounds like they remember." They definitely did.

98 Degrees frontman Nick Lachey led his brother Drew Lachey, Jeff Timmons and Justin Jeffre through the second set with a number of new hits from the group's 2013 album "2.0." While the crowd danced along to their recent single "Girls' Night Out," the first 98 Degrees hits inspired much more enthusiasm -- and more screaming -- than the band's fresh music. Flashback hits like "The Hardest Thing," "I Do (Cherish You)" and "Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)" contributed to a solid performance, even if their latest work won't recapture their old fandom.

Headliner New Kids on the Block opened their set with "We Own the Night" from their May album "10," a fitting start to the two-hour performance that dominated the show. Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood, Joey McIntyre, Jordan Knight and Jonathan Knight stepped on stage without the baby-face quality of their heyday, but the crowd loved their more mature style -- especially the fan who shared a kiss with Mr. Wahlberg during "Single." They filtered older hits into their new music, following 2008's "Summertime" with a hit from two decades earlier, 1988's "The Right Stuff," and played up the performance with lights, fire, confetti and plenty of shirtless dancing from Mr. Wahlberg and co. The group also covered pop songs like Prince's "Kiss" and Queen's "We Will Rock You" that kept the crowd singing along, even blending their own hit "Hanging Tough" with Dropkick Murphys' "I'm Shipping Up to Boston." Hits like "Step by Step" felt modern with the showy stage effects and a newer rock quality, and the fans danced along as if the year was still 1990.

They were once the hottest boy bands of the 1980s and 1990s. The members of Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees and New Kids on the Block are no longer boys, but their Package Tour performance Tuesday night may have rekindled the fire for their aging fan base.

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Megan Doyle: mdoyle@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1953.


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