The Right Stuff

I swear, Kelly’s heart leaped a little just reading that title.

Here’s why. (Of course, being me, I have to tell the WHOLE detailed story).

As many of you know, Kelly and I are childhood friends. That friendship was long rooted in a equal love of New Kids on the Block. We loved them with a passion that only pre-pubescent girls can achieve. As we grew, they faded…mostly. Several of the Kids went on to pursue their own solo dreams. You may not know this about me, but I am NOT a fan of solo acts. I can’t think of one solo act that I like–having liked them in their band first. Generally speaking, if I loved your band, I’m not going to be happy about you leaving, and there is something so thin sounding about a solo act, like they are forever altered in a bad way.

I suppose a noticeable exception would be if they completely changed their musical style, but they don’t usually do that. One assumes that the music the band performed is the music they like so that is usually the style they stick with when going solo.

Kelly, being a far more dedicated fan than yours truly, has actually followed the solo careers of all band members. I have not. When she and I saw them in concert in 2008 they sang a couple of the solo songs during the show and she knew them all. I did not. We saw them at that concert, we saw a mini-show at MOA to get their new CD (you should read that link, it tells the story of how Donnie Wahlberg kissed me. Yep, you read that right, NKOTB member and actor, Donnie Wahlberg, once kissed me.) and we traveled to Chicago to see them tour with the Backstreet Boys, of whom I was never a fan. After the NKOTBSB concert, which was less than impressive, I said I was done. No more NKOTB for me. It’s not my kind of music, nor my style of show, if I’m going to blow $100 on a concert ticket, I want it to be someone that I LOVE. You know? So, when we got back from Chicago, Kelly got tickets to see them again, in Minneapolis. I didn’t go. She did and touched Donnie’s leg. (Read about that here and watch the video of her touching Donnie, here).

Flash forward to present day (well, technically last Thursday) and let’s talk about Jordan Knight.

All of that is to say this. About a month ago, Kelly called me and said that Jordan Knight is touring for his new solo album and he was coming to Minneapolis at the end of January. I declined to go. She replied. “I already bought the tickets!” Truly, the last thing in the world I wanted to do was go to a concert for someone I don’t like. (**sidenote** Jordan used to be my favorite New Kid, when I was a 12 and had zero taste in men, just admired a pretty face. He’s still pretty, but when I met him, he was an ass–and Donnie {who was always #2} became my new favorite. Then he kissed me–cementing the position, got all that?) So, being unimpressed with the man, and not knowing his music at all, I really did not want to go. I had only ever heard one of his solo songs, during the 2008 concert and didn’t recognize it and couldn’t pick it out of a lineup AND this was for a new album, so there was no guarantee he’d sing that song I couldn’t recognize.

But, even with all those good reasons, I still said I’d go. Why? Well, because Kelly wanted me to and I’m her friend. I know that for HER it is important to share these experiences and I also know that whether I like them or not, she associates NKOTB with me. This was her first time seeing Jordan perform solo (he still IS her favorite) and she was extremely excited to go. I weighed it in my mind and realized that it was MORE important to her that I be there then it was to me to not be there. (That was so clear in my head–)

Of course, being less-than-thrilled, I didn’t tell anyone I was going, I really hardly gave it a thought. I never listened to any of his songs to prep, I just didn’t really care. I would go and spend my time taking pictures (which I do enjoy) and just enjoy Kelly’s excitement while capturing some awesome photos for her.

The day of, I took vacation to leave work early and picked her up. We drove in rush hour to get to Minneapolis. We stopped for dinner at Whiskey Junction, and I realized I had been there before, I even have a photograph, somewhere, with me and my friends there. I’ll try and find it for later. At any rate. We ordered the sampler platter to share for dinner and a couple of beers. Kelly was getting agitated by this point. The website had said that the show starts at 7pm and the doors open at 6pm. (Oh, the show was at the Cabooze, forgot to mention that). It was getting close to 6pm when our food arrived and I know she wanted in the second the doors opened.

During dinner she said she’d wished she took a picture of the marquee during twilight, because it would look better than in full dark. Being the photographer, I ran outside to do that.
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Pretty good, hm? Well, when we got in line, it was full dark and I took another.
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I’m a lot closer for this one, but they both turned out well.

Okay, so back to the story. Kelly left the restaurant at a few minutes after six to get in line to get in for will-call. I paid the tab using Kelly’s card (she was kind enough to buy dinner) and boxed up the leftovers and brought them to the car. Then I joined her in line.

Now, it was about 25° outside, which is balmy for January. But it was windy. We didn’t wear coats because who wants to be in a heavy coat inside? Waiting, waiting, waiting. Until about 6:20 when they finally lined up the VIPs and brought them in. We were all together, so it helped us move up a bit. And we waited.

They didn’t open the doors to GA until 7pm. An hour after the website said. We stood in line, in the cold, in no coats for an hour. Obviously, this wasn’t going as planned. Of course, my role was to make sure Kelly had fun. I was yukking it up in line, while she seemed a little…cranky. She wasn’t, she was just nervous and excited (and cold!) and wanted in. I also made some girls in line take our picture in front of the marquee.
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Isnt’ that so cute? Aside from the fact that my hands are in my pockets, because they were cold.

When we finally got in, we grabbed standing room and we were close to the stage. Not up front, as the VIPs were already parked there, but still, very close.
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My excited friend. You can see the stage behind her. It’s misleading via camera, as the actual stage was roughly 10-15 feet in front of us. Super close.

It also wasn’t until arriving that we learned there was an opener. Tim Mahoney. I had never heard of him, he’s a local boy. It was an interesting choice for an opening act to a Jordan Knight show. Jordan is high energy, pop music, and choreographed dancing. Tim Mahoney is himself on an acoustic guitar–singer/songwriter style. Still, listening to Tim Mahoney I liked his style. It’s far more what I listen to.
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I actually remembered thinking “is it bad that I will like the opener I’ve never heard of more than the act?” But I said nothing to Kelly, because she did NOT like him–not because of him–but because she wanted him off the stage so she could see Jordan. But, I enjoyed him. During his part, he was handing out free CDs of his music. Due to a lawsuit, he no longer throws them into a crowd, but gives them to the front row and asks them to pass them out. I was so far back I figured there was no way I’d get one. But I wanted one, I liked him AND I love free stuff. Suddenly, a hand (a few people in front of me) reached up with an extra copy. Quick as a blink, I leaped forward and snatched it from her. And I had a new CD. I am listening to it as I type this, I like it a lot.

Finally, around 9pm, Jordan came on the stage.

Here’s a few shots:
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Obviously, we’re close. I’m getting amazing photos and Kelly is recording. I wanted him to take off the damn sunglasses, though, how annoying.
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Hm, can he hear my thoughts? (By the way, that is one of my favorites–it’s just so in the moment and really captures the feeling just then).

I’m think it is a better photo than this next one, but this one is pretty great. It’s the only one where I caught him looking directly into my camera AND smiling.
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Right? (He’s 41 years old and I can admit, this is still a good looking guy)

He did a couple songs and I realized, I really appreciate a man who can dance. It’s sexy. Dancing is not well prized by my local culture and society–which is too bad. This guy can move. I mean move. He dances while he sings and it’s incredible. I could have actually just stood there to watch him dance.

Of course, I don’t have photo of that, because it doesn’t translate. But I do have a video. Wait for it.

The worst part was in the middle when he felt the need to prove he’s a musician by sitting down at the keyboards and playing a song while singing. A ballad. Which would have been bad enough but then he followed it up with two more. Three non-stop ballads in the middle of the show. Not. Good.

Once he started singing and dancing again, things really picked up. My goal was to get a picture of Kelly with him in the back ground. That didn’t work. But then, a different girl offered to do us both. After a slight mishap, she got this:

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Isn’t that terrific? Plus, he’s somehow centered right between us both.

For the next one, I zoomed all the way out and got a shot of the room at large.
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So you can clearly see we are standing about sixth row (of bodies, not chairs, so it is closer).

Of course, one can only take so many shots of this
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before it becomes tedious. So I had to mix things up a bit. I decided to take more pics of Kelly enjoying the show.
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That’s her, the gold head, and her filming him singing and dancing this song (Up and Down–for the curious). I thought that was cute, so I did more.
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I really like that one, because “actual” Jordan is blurry and in the background, while Kelly watches “recorded” Jordan on her camera.

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Then I figured out that tilting the camera gave me a much better angle and cut out extraneous people. This one was my favorite. I liked it so much, I tried to figure out how to make it better.
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How’s that? Don’t you wish I was YOUR concert wingman?

I took many, many more of Jordan, (for Kelly, not to weigh down my blog) but a couple I really like?
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The silhouette. I wish I were a good enough photographer that I could say I tried to make that happen, but no, that’s just an accident of lighting. But I love it.
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I like the row of colored lights behind him, his closed eyes, and that I’m close enough you can see the sweat on his brow in that picture.
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And this one, because it’s an action shot, but also because of the stranger taking a photo with her iPhone, which is identical to MY iPhone, down to that rubber gel case in purple. It’s surreal, like watching myself photograph something. I know it isn’t me, but I still double take, every time I see it.

When he got down to the end, he finally, FINALLY sang a song I knew. I performed “The Right Stuff” all by himself. It was pretty damn good without the rest of them, and I was so happy to know one song.

I finally videoed at that point, but I used my iPhone. I recorded the whole song, but toward the end he used to do band intros, so I stopped recording. Also, it is longer than Flickr will upload. Luckily, then they did another round of the chorus and then a little musical riff where all he did was dance. That was what I wanted the whole show to be like, and I captured it. That’s what you’re seeing, below.

He just comes across as so darn happy when he’s dancing that it actually made me happy. 

When the concert ended, I was surprised to find that I had fun. Even not knowing the songs, Jordan was so fun and energetic on stage, he just draws you in. He was only on the stage for an hour-ish, but I would have been fine if it were twice that long. Kelly, too, had an amazing time. (***EDIT*** If you want to read Kelly’s version of the night, you can do that, here).I think she was most excited at how close we were to enjoy the show. We drove back to her house where we sat until the wee hours of the morning, uploading our pics and talking about the show and the media we got.

I guess it just goes to show that you should NOT close yourself off to new things. I would never have gone to that concert, but now that I did, I’m glad. It was fun and it made me like Jordan Knight a little bit more. At least on his own…

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2 thoughts on “The Right Stuff

  1. Very very close. Very very awesome! Very very cool! Thank you so much for going with. I had the time of my life and I’m so happy you were there to share it with me!!!!! That’s what childhood friends are for;-)

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.

    • You’re welcome…again! It was very fun and I’m glad we did it. It actually took away some of my bitterness over how much I did not like the Chicago show. Maybe Jordan has magical powers?

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