After a two-year hiatus, the New Kids on the Block Mixtape Tour made its triumphant return to Southern California on Saturday May 28th with a stop in Anaheim at the Honda Center. With a sold-out crowd full of Gen X moms, the iconic boy band (along with Salt-N-Pepa, En Vogue and Rick Astley) turned the arena into a virtual time machine.
From start to finish there was zero breaks over a 38 song, two and a half our set. In true old school mixtape fashion, all acts traded off performances throughout the show, creating a flow that made for a truly entertaining night of nostalgic emotions. NKOTB kicked the night off with seven consecutive songs, complete with fire and a crap ton of confetti & streamers. “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” sent everyone into an absolute frenzy.
Although most of the ‘Kids’ are now in their 50s, it did not stop Donnie Wahlberg and Jordan Knight from showcasing their bare chests throughout the evening. Fellow bandmates Danny Wood, Jonathan Knight and Joey McIntyre were in constant motion throughout the show – their cardio and fitness are challenged on a nightly basis. Each went up close and personal with the crowd and hugged and danced with screaming moms and the young daughters throughout the night.
A secondary stage placed at the back of the floor brought the show closer to the back part of the arena. Logistics were on-point as performers from all the acts popped up in different spots throughout the show. From floor to ceiling, the crowd remained on their feet the entire performance. Costume changes were dizzying, with each performer’s return to the stage coinciding with a new outfit.
After NKOTB’s small set to open the show En Vogue was introduced and ripped through “My Lovin’ (Never Gonna Get It)” and “Free Your Mind”, true anthems from the early 1990s. Rick Astley made his first appearance of the evening, popping up on the second stage and crooned his way through “Together Forever” and “It Would Take A Strong Strong Man”. Social media has kept his legacy alive and the crowd sang along in true appreciation.
Challenging the crowd to “shake that thing and show no shame”, Salt-N-Pepa (Cheryl James & Sandra Denton) complete with a trio of male dancers kicked down a 5-song mini set that included “None Of Your Business” and “Whatta Man” (with help from En Vogue).
NKOTB later plugged in their own mixtape and had the crowd sing along to snippets of six classic songs including “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, “Livin’ On A Prayer” and “California Love”—which resulted in a live marriage proposal in the pit following the mix. The crowd went absolutely delirious at this point, setting the stage for Rick Astley to reclaim the spotlight. No better time to roll out his classic “Never Gonna Give You Up”.
New Kids later slowed things down on the back stage with five slow songs including “Valentine Girl” and “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)”. As the night steamrolled towards its finish, they brought out the heavy hits—trading songs with En Vogue and Salt-N-Pepa. “Step By Step” transitioned directly into “Push It”, the boys then donned bedazzled Boston Celtics jerseys for “Hangin’ Tough”. For the final two songs, all 4 acts on the bill joined each other on stage for “Bring Back The Time” and another run at Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”.
This show was an absolute party. The ‘mixtape’ treatment made for a wildly entertaining nonstop night of memories from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
The Mixtape Tour 2022 continues across North America for the next two months. Two homecoming dates at TD Garden in Boston on July 15/16 highlight a comprehensive 55 city run across the nation…concluding with 3 sold out shows in Honolulu, Hawaii in early August.
New Kids on the Block