Last month, the New Kids on the Block caused fan mayhem when they resurfaced on the Today show on a windy and rainy New York morning, and similarly dreary conditions awaited the estimated 4,000 who crowded into the show's plaza early today for the five singers' first performance together in 15 years. Surrounded by a hysterical throng of fans toting mementos of their adolescent obsession (old tour jackets, photographs, umbrellas and caps), the group played a short medley of their hits from the late Eighties and early Nineties — "Step by Step," "Hangin' Tough," "Please Don't Go Girl" and "You've Got It (The Right Stuff)" — their new single "Summertime" and a song recalling the good old days, "Tonight."
"It's a little bit like Al Roker in a hurricane," joked Donnie Wahlberg, referring to the band's somewhat awkward attempt at dancing on the wet, slippery stage. Sporting his signature half-cocked baseball cap, Wahlberg went on to say that it wasn't he who reunited the band, but "the brotherhood ... and the friendship" that remained through the years. "If the fans didn't want it, it wouldn't have happened."
The turnout, despite the soggy weather, is one of the largest in Today show history, approaching the massive numbers of fans who flocked to Bruce Springsteen's performance last September, as well as those at sets by Ricky Martin and 'NSYNC. However, a spokesperson for the show said she'd never seen fans waiting on the street more than 48 hours in advance as many die-hards did for today's New Kids show. "The story today is the fans more than it is us." said Joey McIntyre, who elicited screams when he tossed his old-school wide-brimmed hat into the crowd during his solo on "Please Don't Go Girl."
The Today show crew passed out new versions of the oversized NKOTB buttons popular in the early Nineties and white puffy painters' hats, which came in handy when the rain worsened during the performance. Anyone who dared keep an umbrella up as the group's performance time approached drew angry shouts from fans and photographers perched in the press pen. While it was hard to hear the songs playing back in the plaza, the telecast revealed a poor vocal mix and a few missed harmonies. Fans, however, did not leave disappointed. "It was completely worth it and I am so excited to go to their concert in September," said Sarah Shepherd, 25, from Long Island. "They're coming back at a time when they can really peak. Twenty years off, it's time for a reunion, and everybody's ready."