By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
OKLAHOMA CITY —
OKLAHOMA CITY — It was billed as “The Package.” A concert that featured three separate tours of boy bands from the ‘80s and ‘90s was folded into one package deal. My expectations weren’t that high.
However, for almost four hours, New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees put on a heck of a show for 15,000 screaming fans June 29 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“The Package Tour” began May 28 and is expected to end Aug. 4. In between, the groups will have played at least 49 shows in the United States and Canada.
However, it’s hard to image them getting a better reception than the people of Oklahoma provided. That was especially true for the headliners NKOTB.
“We’ve been all over the country and we’ve heard some of the loudest crowds in the history of New Kids on the Block,” NKOTB front man Donnie Wahlberg said. “And you know who was louder than all of them? Texas was louder than all of them. That is until we came to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.”
The night started with Boyz II Men hitting the stage first. It was kind of stunning to see the former chart topping R&B quartet (now a trio) as an opening act. But that didn’t keep them from putting on a strong performance.
B2M played standards such as “On Bended Knee,” “I’ll Make Love to You,” “It’s so Hard to Say Good-bye” and “The End of the Road.” Several times, they would cut the music off and let the fans sing the song for them, which has become a staple of their shows.
Boys II Men were followed by 98 Degrees. They are the odd man out in the tour. They don’t have the history of the other two groups or the strong catalog of hit songs.
Overall, Nick Lachey, and the rest of the quartet, were average at best. They got off to a slow start but finished strong.
After a small intermission, NKOTB came out and the crowd went wild. With a seemingly 10-1 female to male ratio, they new what their fan base was and played to it. With a spectacular light show, rising stages and interacting with the crowd, they had the ladies in the audience at a fever pitch.
New Kids performed songs off their latest album, but it was their hits from the ’80s and ’90s that their fans were waiting on. They included “Please Don’t Go Girl,” “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” and “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever).”
New Kids closed the night out by playing “Hanging Tough” as a tribute to Oklahoma and its recent struggles.
“I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been feeling emotional tonight,” Wahlberg told the crowd. “It’s been a tough year for both of our states. Massachusetts and Oklahoma. We don’t have to talk about the hardships. It’s just a beautiful thing to see the resiliency and spirit and the fight and love that permeates in both of these states. We left Boston, it was just getting back up off its knees. When we came back, Boston was standing and Oklahoma was knocked down. But Oklahoma got back up. You guys are amazing.”