Mixtape Tour presses ‘Play’ at Hersheypark Stadium

New Kids on the Block brought “The Right Stuff” to Chocolate Town

That right stuff included the perfect mix of their 80’s music and newer recordings, as well as four epic 80’s icons: Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Salt-N-Pepa, and Naughty By Nature.

The five acts are all currently on “The Mixtape Tour,” named for the way in which the show is set up: The four Special Guest acts are not openers. Please note this if you are planning on seeing what has become one of the hottest and most raved-about tours of the summer. The New Kids appear first, perform a half-hour set, and then take a break while their friends keep the party going!

At Hershey, New Kids on the Block (Donnie Wahlberg, Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Jonathan Night, Danny Wood) took the stage in all white and opened with “The Way,” the most explicit song of the night, released as a single from the bonus tracks of the Hangin’ Tough: 30th Anniversary Edition. They powered through their first set, which included “My Favorite Girl,” “Block Party,” “The Right Stuff.”

Tiffany then took the stage and sang her biggest hit, “I Think We’re Alone Now,” and Debbie Gibson surprised the audience by appearing on a B stage behind the front orchestra to sing a medley of her hits.

So it was throughout the night as the acts traded off: one would appear on the main stage, the other would pop up in the middle of the crowd. This B stage perhaps works well in arena environment; most of the shows take place in 20,000 seat indoor venues.

But at Hersheypark Stadium, where the crowd goes back too deep, the second stage fell short of its usual purpose to “reach the people at the back.” In arena shows, the B stage rises, as do portions of the main stage. This was not so at Hershey, but was certainly not a missed element thanks to the ways in which all five acts made this outdoor show unique.

Despite the ill-placed B-stage, NKOTB still got out among their people. For their performance of “Boys in the Band,” New Kids ran all over the far reaches of the stadium to sing amongst the people. “This Band has six members,” said Donnie Wahlberg (who still looks good without a shirt, thank you.) “One, two, three, four, five,” he said pointing at his bandmates, “Six!” He shouted, pointing at the crowd. Their eruption was glorious.

After the New Kids’ second set, Salt-N-Pepa stole the show. The “Queens of Hip-Hop” delivered their heavy-hit of nostalgia with DJ Spinderella spinning those beats, and three male dancers for “eye candy.” (Hey, the crowd was 70% women, 10% beleaguered husbands, 10% 90’s kids.)

Naughty By Nature finally appeared to “Get Down with O.P.P.” after New Kids’ third set. The had with them Illtown Sluggaz, a DJ who would’ve opened the show had it not been delayed an hour due to rain.

After “Naughty,” the “Mixtape” mashed up, with Debbie Gibson dueting with New Kids member Joey McIntyre. Salt-N-Pepa returned on the B Stage for “Shoop,” and Tiffany performed a medley of her ballads.

Of course, nobody was leaving The Mixtape Tour without forcing Salt-N-Pepa to “Push It” Real Good. And that’s just what they did. The boys closed out the night with “Hangin’ Tough” and “80’s Baby,” rejoined on stage by each of the support acts. The night ended with a spectacular fireworks display worthy of this Fourth of July weekend.

New Kids on the Block reunited 12 years ago this year, and their fans are still showing the love. It’s obvious that New Kids’ fans see themselves in the group. Perhaps it’s because most of the crowd grew up with the boys. When you find music at a young age that speaks to you and what you are going through, it can mean something beyond music. Donnie even said as much: “You’ve been with us for 30 years. We are not a band and it’s fans. We are YOU. We are family.”

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is podcast producer and writer located in the Northeast. Since 2013, Bailey has produced more than 160 episodes of his own online radio show, Talk For Two. In 2016 alone, he interviewed Kevin Bacon, Crystal Gayle, Bob Barker, and Gilbert Gottfried, among several other stars. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, his focus is Broadway, country music and concert reviews.

Email: matt@themusicuniverse.com