It’s May 17, 2020 and it’s Jordan Knight’s 50th birthday!
A member of the popular boy band, New Kids on the Block, Jordan Knight first captured my attention in 1988 when I saw him in the “Please Don’t Go Girl” music video.
Over the years, I’ve been to three New Kids concerts – in 1989, 1990, and 2011.
But on September 21, 2004, I got to see Jordan Knight perform in concert as a solo artist. Here’s what happened:
Jordan Knight at The Independent in San Francisco
At The Independent in San Francisco, my sister-in-law, Kim, and I excitedly cheered as Jordan Knight emerged from the dingy gray drapes, wearing a tweed jacket over a pink shirt with vertical white stripes.
Underneath the buttoned-up shirt he wore a white crew-neck t-shirt. He completed the look with a pair of good ol’ American blue jeans.
He opened the show with “My Favorite Girl,” a New Kids on the Block track, which he co-wrote. He teased 200+ fans in attendance, declaring, “my favorite girl…is you, and you, and you, and you.”
I often got the impression that Jordan did not have a setlist. It felt as if Chad Z (his DJ, back-up singer, pimp, cheerleader, security guard) was the Wizard of Oz and he would decide what song Jordan would perform next.
Chad Z did this by playing a few bars of a song and Jordan would just follow along. For example, when Chad Z played the first few bars of “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” the crowd went wild! Jordan, however, looked uneasy and commented, “Let me see if I remember the words!”
Chad Z both uplifted my spirit and annoyed me. He was like a wedding coordinator who was too visible. Sometimes he looked at Jordan in a supportive way. Other times, he looked at Jordan like a middle child upstaged, yet again, by the first-born.
“Did you hear that?”
One girl in the front row handed Jordan a bottle of Heineken, sans cap. He accepted, but joked, “OK, I’ll drink this later. I’ll put it here (next to one of the speakers) for now. You didn’t put anything in it, like Rohypnol, did you?”
In between songs, Jordan’s remarks were replete with innuendo. This, coupled with his suggestive dance moves, proved this “Kid” was all grown-up.
“Who’s single? Who’s married? Of those of you who are married, who came here ‘not-married-just-for-tonight’? Who came here to get lucky?”
I checked in with my cuz, Rocky, who was listening from Arizona via cell phone, “Did you hear that?”
Ugh! He sounded so full of himself, even I had to crinkle my nose in disgust. With all that talk about being married, he failed to mention his own marital status, nor the fact that he had a son.
Another girl in the front row tried to clutch his crotch. He immediately reacted, wide-eyed and genuinely shocked. “Whoa. None of that! If my mother were here, she’d be like, you’re 34 years old, don’t behave that way.”
One overzealous fan grabbed a hold of his undershirt and would not let go. If she hadn’t let go, he certainly would have fallen off the stage!
Some girls started to chant: “Strip! Strip! Strip!” Jordan replied, “No, this is a no-nudity show…” This must have fallen on one fan’s deaf ears as she started dancing and taking her top off! Jordan noticed and exclaimed (mid-song, by the way!), “Hey, I see a bra over there!”
The first time and possibly the only time that Jordan had control over his own show was when he got behind the keyboard. He tickled the ivory teasingly before doing a soothing rendition of “You Make Me Feel Brand New” by The Stylistics. “My love, I’ll never find the words, my love…mere words could not explain…” Hitting the high notes with his signature falsetto, Jordan’s version sounded as good as the original. Shivers.
- My Favorite Girl
- Give It To You
- Around the World
- Close My Eyes
- Step By Step
- Don’t Cry
- You Got It (The Right Stuff)
- Hangin’ Tough
He went to the keyboard to perform the following songs:
- You Make Me Feel Brand New
- I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)
- Please Don’t Go Girl
- Baby, I Believe In You
- If You Go Away
The 90-minute show ended at 11:30 p.m. At the start of the show, Chad Z had announced that Jordan’s limited-edition double-CD would be on sale at the end of the show. He said that Jordan would come out to meet all of us and sign autographs.
I wasn’t holding my breath. You see, I had tried four times before to meet him.
- The first time was on December 19, 1989. My cuz, Rocky, and I tried to sneak backstage after the New Kids concert at the Oakland Arena, but to no avail.
- The second time was in the summer of 1990, after the New Kids concert at the Oakland Coliseum when my friend, Charon, and I tried to meet the band.
- The third time was in 1999 at an in-store signing at Tower Records at San Francisco’s Stonestown Galleria. Jordan was in town to promote his new single, “Give It To You” and his new self-titled album as a solo artist. Though I stood in line for four hours, I did not get to meet him, as he decided the group of fans immediately in front of my group would be his cut-off point. After Jordan and his entourage had gone, I went inside and swiped an original souvenir: one of the Sharpies he used to sign autographs! It was still warm!
- The fourth futile attempt was two short months later, when Jordan headlined the Fiesta Filipina event in San Francisco. I caught his three-song performance from a mere 50 feet away. This was the closest I’d ever been, so I was a happy camper, but still no meet and greet.
Would the fifth time be the charm?
When the show ended, we all got in the meet and greet line. In the meantime, there were rumors that we were standing on the wrong side of the room.
As a result, about 50 people in front of Kim and me ran to wait on the opposite side of the room, but we stayed where we were. Now there were only 5 girls (and by girls, I mean women in their 30s) in front of us.
A heartbeat later, guess who comes running out toward our line? Yes, it was Jordan! The rumor turned out to be wrong!
The girls who left our line then had the nerve to come back and try to reclaim their spots.
Chaos erupted when some girls behind us yelled, “No, you left, so you can’t cut. Go to the back of the line, you stupid b*tch!”
Jordan looked annoyed by the commotion. Chad Z put on his crowd-control hat and got on the microphone, “Please line up in an orderly fashion. You may take pictures of Jordan, but not with Jordan. He can sign anything you want him to or you can buy a photo and he’ll sign it.”
When it was my turn, the guy who was in charge of selling CDS, 8×10 black & white glossies, and pink “JK” tank tops, asked me what I wanted.
I said, “I want a picture” and handed him a wad of one dollar bills. It cost $5, but I think I gave him $4.
I was self-conscious about making this transaction right in front of Jordan! I wished they sold the stuff in the back of the line, so we could just hand it to Jordan to sign! But that’s a trivial grievance compared to what I was about to experience next…
Jordan proceeded to write on the picture what looked like his name: “J – O…”, but actually he was writing “TO.”
He asked me, “What is your name?”
Swoon! He. Spoke. To. Me. First!
I bent forward slightly to say my name and then I started to spell my name. I don’t know why (nerves, I guess!) He wrote each letter slowly and when he finished signing, he pushed the photo toward me.
I stood up straighter and stuck out my hand. He shook my hand and with our eyes meeting, I say (in what seemed like s l o w m o t i o n), “It’s really nice meeting you.” I felt my upper lip quivering.
He responded, “Nice meeting you. Thank you.” His handshake was firm; his hand was neither cold, nor warm, neither rough nor soft.
I honestly cannot remember any other part of his face! All I can remember is how my glance fixated on his dark, round eyes.
I expected that he would look away quickly as if to say, “ok, who’s next?” There was a long line, after all. But he didn’t look away; I actually looked away first. He gave me the impression that he truly appreciates his fans. I felt seen.
The following day, the memory of the surreal experience of meeting one of my favorite musicians played on repeat in my head. As Jordan Knight had crooned the night before, I felt that “mere words could not explain…” 💕
For more information:
- Jordan Knight – Give It To You
- New Kids on the Block – I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)
- New Kids on the Block – Please Don’t Go Girl
- New Kids on the Block – You Got It (The Right Stuff)
- The Stylistics – You Make Me Feel Brand New
- Venue: The Independent
Tell me in the comments below: what’s your favorite concert experience?
If you enjoyed this post, visit my other blog: Bonjour: A Francophile Blog. Written in California. Inspired by (almost) all things French.