Last night was a blast. Honestly, it was the most fun I have had in a long time and it came at the perfect time. May is crazy, busy with so much to do and to keep up with. The break was needed – dinner with a good friend, the drive to Nashville and a concert full of memories -old ones and new ones meshing together to make it a night we would not soon forget.
Appropriately named “The Mixed Tape Tour” filled Bridgestone Arena with thousands of my peers. We came in droves from all over the mid-state to relive our tweens and teens with the best boy band ever – New Kids on the Block and their guests – Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Salt n Peppa, and Naughty by Nature.
They gave a great show with high energy and loud acoustics. The start time was about the same time most of the crowd would usually be winding down after we’ve put our kids to bed and tidied up the dinner dishes. Personally, I head to the shower about that time to begin to unwind- but last night we were just getting started. Honestly, I was so into the music and the show, I didn’t find myself starting to yawn until my friend and I emerged from the arena into the cool, spring night, air.
On the way back to Clarksville, we shared our impressions of the evening and kept telling the other that it had been “so very fun.” Honestly we were at exit 40 on 24 before the ringing in our ears started to subside and were no longer having to shout at the other to be heard. The process it took our ears to adjust was just the first of several reminders that we aren’t as young as we like to think we are. As the miles slipped by, we talked about how some of the stars had aged REALLY well and some of the others – not so much!
From our seats we could watch the “Boys,” now most definitely men – all in their mid to late 40s, dance and sing looking very much like they did when we first saw them in tour over 30 years ago. Their dance moves were spot on, resembling a cardio workout that would overwhelm the both of us.
BUT, when the camera would zoom in for a close up shot, it was clear that they weren’t the same guys I first saw in concert at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. The Reds no longer play in that stadium because it no longer exists and hasn’t for many, many baseball seasons.
Guys do age more gracefully, and while I would love to boast of Debbie’s curves, she and Tiffany both seemed to dress the part of the teen idols they had been 30 years ago. Maybe that was intentional? Not dressing “their age” to try to allow all of us in the audience to time travel at least in our minds to when we were all wearing those hem lines and hairstyles?
Songs and lyrics that I had not thought of or heard in years, maybe decades, flooded back to the tip of my tongue when the first few notes blasted into the arena. Suddenly all the strangers around me were like friends as we were united by the music of our youth.
The tunes weren’t just those of the featured bands. Other music from the same time frame was played and the thousands in attendance sang in one accord. Even if the musical genre was different from the boy band sound, we all still knew the words and tunes. The evening was truly like singing along with a favorite mixtape from our middle school years.
Even one of the singers, Donnie Wahlburg to be exact, questioned aloud into the mic, “How do you follow that?!” when the entire audience had sung in unison and in tune one of the songs of another band. Honestly, it reminded me of a worship experience when the leader bows away from the microphone and the congregation continues to sing the chorus without his voice in the forefront.
There were other echos of spiritual things – to see that many people gathered behind and unified in song gave me glimpses of heaven, what it will be like to worship the only One truly worthy of worship. The fact we are creatures created to worship could not have been disputed in how the crowd erupted when “The Boys in the Band” took the stage.
Yet, for me, there was something a little more personal to take away from the night’s experiences. I was reminded that I was no longer 13 or 14 and I am okay with that. I may have a cardiologist and an orthopedist among my growing list of health providers that end in “-ist.” But all I need to do is look in the mirror to know that I am not physically the same.
I would like to think that I have aged pretty well on the outside, but I also know and thank God that I have aged on the inside too. A lot has happened to and around me in the last 30 years that God has actively used to shape and mold me. His Word tells me that He will finish the work He began in me and, because of that promise, I trust that I look a lot more like Jesus now than I did way back then.
Some of the lyrics we sang last night were a little more racy than I remember. Maybe then I was just naive and didn’t really know, or want to know, what I was singing. However, now, that ignorance is gone and I can’t deny that I completely know what all the lyrics are insinuating – or outright saying. I found a “mom voice” asking inside my head, “How would you feel if your daughter was singing this song around the house?” At the very least, I know for sure she and I would have a long conversation about a thing or two.
It’s good to look back. It’s good to see how far we’ve come. It’s good to remember good times. It is good to reflect on God’s good grace, how He has provided and been faithful.
Last night was good for all of those reasons too.
Does anyone know when the tour is coming back to Nashville? As my childhood fave, Joey McIntyre, pointed out, Mick Jagger is still performing in his 70s so we should still have another 30 or so years to hear “The Right Stuff.” I guess we will just have to take it “Step by Step” and be “Hanging Tough” while we wait. My friend and I are already committed to each other to go next time!
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