If admitting that I’ve loved a boyband (one in particular, and pretty much only them) for my entire life makes me uncool, then so be it. I’m uncool. Having said that, I never really got into pop in the way many do. New Kids on the Block aside, there was only really ever one other similar group whose music I got into, and that’s irrelevant. Anyway, whether because I decided so at a very young age, or simply because it’s true, I still find Jordan Knight to be one of the most beautiful men on the planet. And okay, if he wants to make a record and then tour with some other musician, well… I’d probably go see him with just about anyone. (Willie Nelson? Barbra Streisand? Rick Astley? I’m game.) If his choice is another cute boy from a similar boyband background, specifically Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys, well, alright. Look, he could tour with Miss Piggy and I’d go see him. And so I did, about a month ago (11/18), when the Nick & Knight tour stopped at SF’s Regency Ballroom.
(Note: My apologies for the delay in posting this review. Normally, we’re all pretty good about posting reviews within a day or so. Sadly, though, the Spinning Platters site has had a bug that’s kept me from accessing it for weeks. It is, in fact, still giving me trouble… here’s hoping someone can see this post & will enjoy it for all our efforts to bring it to you! -S)
The evening began, much to my delight, without an opening act. I had all the space in the pit to myself, just me, my camera, and two handsome men for the first few songs. After a fun, somewhat dramatic entrance, they began with “Nobody Better,” followed by Carter’s “Burning Up” with a little of Knight’s “Let’s Go Higher.” N&K’s “Just the Two of Us” was next, and after “Take Me Home,” it was time for a quick disappearing act. When they reemerged on-stage without their jackets, they stopped to greet the crowd with a few hellos. While Carter picked up an acoustic guitar, Knight settled himself at the keys, said “goodness! Look at this crowd tonight! Thank you guys so much for comin’ out tonight.” The next part was a personal highlight for me, as he demonstrated what he’d learned last time he played the Bay on his solo “Unfinished” Tour. “I hear you’re not supposed to say ‘San Fran.’ That’s a big no-no. You can say ‘Bay Area,’ ‘San Francisco,’ ‘SF,’ or ‘the city.’” (At this point, he was damn near quoting something I had just tweeted a day or two before, almost verbatim. I would have hugged him for this, if I could have.) “’Frisco’s’ a no-no, right? They particular! Thank you guys so much for comin’ out tonight.”
Next the audience was informed that the duo would be doing some “old and new ones,” with “Halfway There” first. For me, this is the absolute highlight of their record, and so was a high point of the night as well. “That’s something new for you. It’s on the album, in case you didn’t know. But now we’re gonna take you a little old school…” First came an old NKOTB tune circa 1994, the gorgeous fan favorite “If You Go Away,” which is full of Knight’s signature fantastic falsetto. My only complaint was that, while I’ll admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of Carter’s voice, it did sound decent on this particular song – but he’s got nothing on Joe McIntyre, whose vocals are near-perfect. (Sorry Carter/BSB fans. I don’t mean this as any sort of actual negativity. It’s just my opinion.)
After a brief NKOTB flashback, it was Carter’s turn to treat fans to an oldie of his own, “I Want it That Way.” I gotta say, I know this song is something of a bona fide boyband classic, but I’ve never understood it. How exactly do they want it? I wish I knew. It’s catchy as hell, but it always makes me laugh; I’ve always categorized it with similar head-scratchers like Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love.” (What is it he won’t do?!) After the stools vanish from the stage, another new tune from the album, this time a catchy song called “Paper,” which was followed by “Drive My Car,” (not the Beatles song, but an original from the N&K album), complete with cheesy steering wheel choreography. In fact, I must admit that there was quite a bit of sort of silly choreography at several parts of the show. But I guess maybe that’s par for the course in a situation like this? Carter is, I think I remember, a pretty good dancer, and Knight I know for sure can tear up the floor with the best of them… it doesn’t make sense. But at the end of the day, I didn’t feel much to complain about. I enjoyed most of the music, and hell… they’re both still really pretty.
After crazy applause, Knight pointed out several fans in the audience that he evidently recognized from some other time. “San Francisco is the Earth tonight, man! That song has a vintage blues vibe, it brings out that old school vibe…” “It does, it’s because so much good came out of the 80s.” (Specifically, Carter were referring to Knight himself.) Knight then returned the compliment, indicating that the 90s had produced some great things as well, meaning Carter. Carter gave Knight credit for his 90s hit “Give it to You” before Knight told the room that they’d be taking us back to the 90s to reminisce. “I think you were partying too much in the 90s to remember, but we’re gonna take you to school tonight.” This whole schtick between the two of them was a little too rehearsed for my taste, but it led to a rather fun flashback medley, so I suppose it was ultimately forgivable.
First, Carter began with a rap cover of a Notorious B.I.G. song (I think!?) I didn’t know, and I must admit: I was quite impressed. He’s not bad, not bad at all. As you might expect, they had the crowd singing along: the hook from Mase’s “Feel So Good” (“bad, bad, bad, bad boy, you make me feel so good…”). Was that what he was rapping? I seriously don’t know. Because I have friends in other parts of the country who’d already seen this tour, I knew what was coming, and noted that I’m not drooling on my phone is an accomplishment! A cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” was next, and I managed (but only just) not to swoon completely. A little of Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” followed, a little of Naughty by Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray,” Kris Kross’ “Jump,” TLC’s “Creep,” Sisqo’s “Thong Song” (complete with Knight shaking his tiny butt in his cute jeans as a highlight), and finally, finally, Ginuwine’s sexy classic, “Pony.” And of course, there was floor-humping. And it was silly, and wonderful. After a full stage blackout and another brief disappearing act, I noted: so far, the medley wins the world. It was pretty great, and we were having a blast.
When they returned, the next part of the show began with “Switch” from their album, followed by a fedora break, which didn’t hurt my feelings at all. After “Déjà Vu” came “If You Want It,” “One More Time,” and then Knight’s aforementioned hit, “Give it to You.” Carter paused to ask the crowd to give Knight kudos: “ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Jordan Knight!” Knight returned in kind, “and give it up for my partner in crime, Nick Carter!” Upon hearing the crowd’s response, he continued. “San Fran showed up! Uh oh. The city showed up! This is going so well for me on this tour… They just went on a cruise, we’re ‘bout to go on a cruise, we just got our walk on the Hollywood Walk of Fame…” Eventually, all this talk led to New Kids on the Block’s “The Right Stuff,” after which the boys asked the audience to give the band a round of applause before the final song of the night, BSB’s “Larger than Life. “Alright, San Francisco, we love you!” And they were gone.
It was a really fun evening, and I would have found the two of them to be wildly entertaining if Carter had rapped the phone book while Knight danced along. My only real complaint was, as I already said, the cheesy choreography throughout various parts of the set, especially the silly end poses. Truth be told, they made me cringe. But, it’s a pop show, and it’s to be expected. It was fun enough for me not to take myself so seriously, to just let loose and have fun, and to revel in all the glory that is two handsome men putting on a shamelessly great show.