Let us give you a play-by-play: Imagine Rod Laver Arena at full capacity. The audience made up predominantly of once-fanatical-teenagers-turned-RSVP
-subscribers who slurp down daiquiris from plastic light-up martini glasses. Tonight is the night their boy band fantasies will be delivered. Intense? Believe it.
The audience is lured into the world of NKOTBSB with yearbook-style photos of the gang back in the day, broadcast onto the stadium’s big screen. Images of babyfaced Joey McIntyre and Nick Carter cause the most pandemonium. Seriously, escapee tonsils are blowing in the aisles.
NKOTBSB make their collective stage debut, performing a mash-up of NKOTB's ‘Single’ and Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’. Dancing in perfect symmetry, we witness the first ‘extended hand to fist recoil’ dance maneuver of the night.
NKOTB summon the audience and take the stage, opening with ‘Summertime,’ which includes the lyric “Hey girl, can I get your number?” (members of the audience think for a moment, having not been asked that question since the summer of 1999. [G Chat seriously ruined the magic in romancing]). Joey teases as he lifts up his singlet and exposes one third of his six-pack. Unfair advantage over his other bandmates if you ask us, considering he joined NKOTB when he was only 12.
It’s BSB’s turn. They open with ‘The Call’. What the hell? Kevin Richardson is absent. We guess we won't be seeing any goatee action tonight. Speaking of facial hair, there’s a close-up of Nick on the big screen. The hormone supplements worked! Thirty-two years in the making and he finally grew stubble. Congrats, bro.
Stripping down to wifebeater tanks, NKOTB return. The dudes are seriously ripped. They sing ‘Dirty Dancing’ and ‘Hangin Tough.’ Donnie embellishes the lyric “oh oh oh oh oh” in what he calls a “whale scream”. Surprisingly, some underwater castmembers of Finding Nemo
employ the same siren when accosting hammerheads of the opposite sex.
BSB are back, this time with ‘Get Down.’ Brian does push ups with one hand. Nick opts for the classic boy band crotch grab. AJ puts on a pair of Lady Gaga-style sunglasses mid performance (yes, he’s still NQR), while Howie silently thinks, “I hate you, Bieber”.
Vintage choreography intact, NKOTB perform ‘You Got It (The Right Stuff)'. The ‘flick the dust off the shoulder’ move makes a cameo. Spurred by Joey, NKOTB do 10 pelvis thrusts in a row, captured on the big screen in a series of aggressive Dutch angles. Master auteur Alfred Hitchcock would not approve, but it leaves female audience members feeling like this:
Nine words: "All you people, can’t you see, can’t you see." Nick has had the same hairstyle since 1998. THAT MAKES HIM LARGER THAN LIFE, Y'ALL. No but really, Brian stunt-jumps off the duplex stage over a crouching Howie. The secret’s out – Howie is the least insured BSB.
NKOTB are loving the costume changes. Emerging in tuxedos, they perform ‘Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind)’.
Totally unrelated note. A girl in the crowd with glow in the dark dreadlocks is totally distracting us.
Back to NKOTB and their bleeding hearts. They sing ‘If You Go Away.’ Joey does a dynamite solo, dropping to his knees, spotlight shining on him, no backing music, just the voice of a generation. It is totally a Susan Boyle moment.
BSB wardrobe department is back in action. White suits paired with signature BSB white Nike kicks. It’s Howie’s time to shine with ‘Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely.’ They proceed to ‘10,000 Promises,’ a BSB equivalent to Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’s
Charlie’s-grandparents-singing-in-bed-fast-forward kind of song.
BSB each choose a woman from the audience and invite her on stage. Stools materialise out of thin air and appear on the runway stage in single file. The women sit. Boring detail but necessary. BSB members serenade their lady with a rendition of ‘I’ll Never Break Your Heart’. Nick impregnates his lucky recipient through song, kneeling and singing into her womb. The audience gives him an immaculate reception.
BSB sing ‘Drowning,’ aka the type of song that keeps 101.1 Mix FM
in business. Moving on to ‘Incomplete,’ a close-up AJ is projected onto the screen. It was hard not to notice his long fingernails and blue nail polish combo. Gross. Leave the bloke manicures to Seal.
While NKOTB perform ‘Step by Step’ and ‘Cover Girl’, Donnie intervenes. “Don’t you know I really love you Mel-born?” He then proceeds to rip his singlet off his body with his bare hands, and makes a concerted effort to rub a fresh layer of sweat and groin juice - we say groin juice because that's where he literally absorbed bodily fluids from - onto the singlet before throwing it into the audience.
Leaving the audience feeling like this (again):
9.46pm Rod Laver echoes the Ashes/the last Prince concert as the “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi” chant is initiated by Donnie.
9.48pm Jordan says, “Whatever magic time traveling journey we’re on, let’s make more memories.” Okay...? And just like that each NKOTB member descends into the crowd – the actual crowd, up the stairs and in the aisles of Rod Laver Arena singing ‘Tonight’. Hugging and taking photos with audience members in between. We touched Danny Woods bicep. Then fainted.
10pm The next five minutes are unaccounted for due to 'Boy Band Midas Touch' leaving us unconscious.
10.05pm BSB magically appear in the depths of the crowd, walking down to the stage while intermittently giving audience members cardiac arrests and Facebook profile pictures to last until One Direction's 2020 Reunion Tour. They perform classic BSB ballads ‘Shape of My Heart’, ‘All I Have To Give’, ‘As Long As You Love Me’ and ‘Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)’.
10.20pm White suits, white stools, white mic stands and blazing smoke machine accompany NKOTB’s rendition of ‘I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)’. To others it may have looked as if they were auditioning for an upcoming Philadelphia Cream Cheese commercial.
10.24pm Nick slicks back his hair into a ponytail, so naturally we assume this is the poignant part of the concert. We are right. BSB pull at the heart strings with 'I Want It That Way'.
10.27pm Both bands have disappeared. The audience starts chanting N-K-O-T-B-S-B, séance-like, attempting to summon them back to the stage.
10.30pm One word: Everyyyyyboooooddddyyyyy. The song we had all been waiting for. Backstreet's Back, bitches.
10.35pm NKOTBSB return to stage one last time. Dressed in Australia-themed John Howard zip-up sweaters, they perform Queen's ‘We Will Rock You’ and their own mash-up anthem that incorporates your favourite lyric of all their songs, ever.
10.42pm Ticker tape explosion.
After exiting the most surreal two-hour time portal ever, it's safe to say those in attendance would be changing their RSVP profiles from 'single' to 'it's complicated' later that night.
WORDS: Lisa Marie Corso
PHOTOS: Serena Ho