In tough economic times, you’d think that clothing budgets would be tight — but you’d never guess that from the number of bras and other undergarments that rained down on the Madison Square Garden stage upon the appearance of this old-school boy-band juggernaut. And while a good portion of the female-dominated aud did seem intent on reliving bygone adolescent crushes — something the quintet certainly played up to — the two-hour perf wasn’t a by-the-numbers re-creation of their summer of love (namely 1988).
Time has forced the thirtysomethings to alter their collective m.o. a bit — the choreography accompanying uptempo numbers like “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” for instance, was a bit less aerobic than it was back in the day. But for the most part, the Kids seemed none the worse for wear, slipping into the harmonies of “I’ll Be Loving You Forever” and their cover of “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind (This Time)” like an old pair of jeans.
They slipped into old personae just as readily, with Donnie Wahlberg playing up his bad-boy image by dropping trou — with boxer shorts intact, so as not to push the family-friendly envelope — and Joey McIntyre playing the baby-face card as well as ever. Interestingly, the group didn’t revisit the stagy slickness of their concert heyday, opting for a comparatively spare setup and a pared-down backing quartet that brought the (light) funk convincingly enough.
The perf flagged a bit during a late-set interlude that afforded some of the guys a shot to showcase their solo wares — McIntyre’s “Stay the Same” was especially arduous, although his a capella “New York, New York” nearly made up for it — but things heated up again with a closing salvo of “Summertime” (one of a handful of tunes culled from the reunion album “The Block”) and “Hangin’ Tough.”
While the jury is still out as to the potential longevity of NKOTB Mark 2 — if Donny and Marie can stake out a Vegas outpost, why not these guys? — there’s a palpable enthusiasm at play that bodes well for at least one more go-round.