NKOTB welcomed two new 80’s icons for its second iteration this summer.
Astley Rick-Rolled. En Vogue Held On. Salt N’ Peppa Pushed It. And New Kids On The Block delivered the Right Stuff tonight (Thurs, July 21st) at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA.
“If you thought it was fun growing up with us, just wait till you see how fun it is growing old with us,” Donnie Wahlberg bellowed from the stage about two-thirds of the way through their 2022 Mixtape Tour.
And yet, as we all grow older, we yearn for the ability to go back in time. That’s exactly the sentiment the success of this tour is built on. That is because the pop culture of the 80’s is endlessly timeless.
And, like anything good from the 80’s, there’s always a sequel. Mixtape 2022 has continued the party all summer. This year, The New Kids on the Block coaxed Rick Astley out of semi-retirement. While En Vogue jumped on the tour fresh off of renewed interest from their turn on the most recent Masked Singer cycle. And the queens of hip hop Salt N’ Peppa again joined the New Kids.
The show kicked off with the New Kids delivering a bevy of their hits from the main stage. “Cover Girl” and Right Stuff” followed fireworks-riddled show opener “Block Party.” With a stage set out of the 80s, including six rotating light boards and an extra-long runway, the boys cut a tight figure. Their choreography was as sharp as ever. They would commit just enough to let you know they still had it, then wink and nod to the very cheesiness of the dance steps.
En Vogue took the stage second for two songs, followed by Rick Astley on the B-stage. En Vogue lead singer Cindy Herron belted while impeded by a boot on her right foot. The trio wins the award for best vocals of the night. The stunning harmonies on “Free Your Mind” are a highlight.
Rick Astley also delivered strong vocals. He wins the award for all-around entertainer for the evening. Though he only had four numbers, he made the most of them and engaged the crowd on every note. Power ballad “Cry for Help” absolutely stole the show.
Salt N Peppa are just plain fun. They can spit a new rhyme or deliver a hit with such infectious enthusiasm. Their performance of “Let’s Talk About Sex” would have you believing it’s the first time they ever sat down to discuss the birds and the bees in such musical fashion. And of course, the never seem to tire of “Pushing “It.” Though, the jury is still out on what “It” exactly is.
NKOTB, the ostensible ringmasters of the night, are as dependable as always. “Dapper Don,” himself (really, Dorky Don”) acted as ringleader, hyping up the crowd. He reminded the 12,000 strong that Hershey, PA was where the Mixtape Tour was birthed. It was here that the first standalone Mixtape festival took place several years ago.
Jordan Knight inarguably has the pipes of the NKOTB fivesome. The uniqueness of his falsetto comes from a combination of boy-band lustfulness and an earnest 60’s-like tone that is undeniable. After all, we do have Frankie Valli to blame for the trend of white men dressing up and singing as high as humanly possible without cutting off — never mind.
The slowest moment of the night was during a 60’s-inspired motif of ballads. Clad in pink blazers and white shirts, the trio ran through all of their ballads. In one section. One should expect better of a band that knows how to truly entertain their thousands of screaming fans. Note for next summer boys, mix in the ballads with the jumpy stuff. The Jersey Boys can get away with it. The Kids from Boston cannot.
However, it was that segment that delivered NKOTB’s best moment of the night: Jordan Knight’s sky-high vocals on “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever).” The next time the Boys appeared, they delivered their highest energy moment of the night: on “Hang Tough” combined with Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”
There’s no denying that the New Kids are not-so-New anymore. Yet, the scantily clad men on stage had bodies to rival their younger peers. Such naughtiness allowed the pre-menopausal women in the crowd to quench the last of the thirst from their youth. But behind the pomp-and-circumstance is a real heart. A heart that will keep fans coming back to every Mixtape Tour in the same way we flock to see a Scream or Halloween movie 40 years later. As this tour heads into its final weekend, there’s no doubt: Blockheads want this Mixtape to become a trilogy.
And for those still craving even more New Kids on the Block, word is that there are still a few cabins left for the NKOTB Cruise that sets sale October 20th.