Mid-show PDA, a surprise proposal and “Baby Blockheads” — New Kids on the Block are back on the road with a bang!
The Massachusetts natives hit Los Angeles and Anaheim with the “Mixtape Tour 2022” over the weekend, and with a lineup including Rick Astley, En Vogue and Salt-N-Pepa, there wasn’t a dull moment through the nostalgia-fuelled shows.
Danny Wood, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg and brothers Jonathan Knight and Jordan Knight opened the concerts with 2013 anthem “Block Party” before running through their expansive 36-year catalogue, featuring hits like “Hangin’ Tough”, “Step By Step” and “Cover Girl” during which Walhberg paused to kiss wife of seven years Jenny McCarthy.
Back in his bachelor days, the “Blue Bloods” star would make out with a lucky audience member while performing the 1989 track, but these days he only has eyes for one “cover girl”.
Wahlberg, 52, wasn’t the only New Kid showing PDA. Farmhouse Fixer star Jonathan Knight, 53, stopped to give the love of his life, Harley Rodriguez, a peck while making his way through the crowd during Thursday’s San Diego show.
It wasn’t just the group showing their love publicly. During Saturday night’s Anaheim gig, Wahlberg asked the crowd who knew the lyrics to 2Pac and Dr. Dre’s West Coast anthem “California Love”, before handing his mic to front row fangirl Elle Nucci.
He later introduced the L.A. event planner as a “diehard Blockhead,” joking she had spent $40,000 on concert tickets, then asking if the man behind her, Emam Abed, was her partner.
“I heard a rumour you’ve got something you want to talk to her about,” Wahlberg said to Abed, who swiftly got on one knee and presented a ring. “Are you f**king kidding me?” Nucci exclaimed, before ecstatically screeching, “Yes!”
“If you need some groomsmen, we got you, and if you need someone to rap at the reception, she’s got you,” Wahlberg quipped as the Honda Center erupted in cheers.
— New Kids on the Block (@NKOTB) May 29, 2022
It wasn’t just longtime Blockheads like Nucci enjoying the shows. The quintet have grown a following of “Baby Blockheads”, the children of their fans. Many showed up wearing “Baby Blockhead” shirts while McIntyre’s 14-year-old son Griffin encouraged them to catch his opening set at Crypto.com Arena on Friday.
Illtown Sluggaz (featuring Naughty by Nature’s Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee and mascot DJ Slugga) came on first and anyone would have thought the main act was on by the reaction of the crowd, who were instantly on their feet dancing to Rihanna’s “Diamonds” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone”. Griffin then joined in, playing guitar to Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, performing John Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane”, then strutting his stuff to BTS’ “Butter”.
— KoolKiwis (@KoolKiwis) May 29, 2022
The New Kids’ “Dirty Dancing” soon heated up the main stage, along with “Summertime”, from their 2008 comeback record ,The Block. Throwback “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” took fans back to 1988, after which Wahlberg was moved by lengthy, unrelenting applause and cheers.
— Leena Tailor (@LeenaTailor) May 28, 2022
“Los Angeles, California, we missed you so much!” he said. “A welcome like that could only mean two things: One, maybe you missed us a little, too. And two, if we missed each other all that much, it’s only fitting we come a little closer to you.”
Launching into “The Whisper” from 2013 album 10, the singers weaved their way through the crowd to the B Stage, snapping selfies along the way. It was here that McIntyre crooned “Please Don’t Go Girl” with some help from concert-goers.
“Los Angeles, I’ve been singing this song for 30 damn years… you can sing it to me,” he said.
Throughout the group’s set, the other acts dipped in and out – En Vogue shimmying onto the stage in metallic silver dresses for “Free Your Mind”, while Salt-N-Pepa pulled out 1991 smash, “Let’s Talk About Sex”, and ’80s hit, “Push It”.
During Saturday’s show, McCarthy was escorted from her front row bar stool at the main stage to the “Party Pit” surrounding the B Stage to catch Wahlberg joining Salt-N-Pepa during “Shoop”. Salt-N-Pepa were also joined by En Vogue to perform their 1993 collaboration, “Whatta Man”, before En Vogue pulled out crowd-pleaser, “Don’t Let Go”.
Rick Astley meanwhile had ’80s babies chanting along to “Together Forever”, but saved 1987 chart-topper, “Never Gonna Give You Up”, for later.
DJ D-Nice also made a video appearance to introduce a high-octane set that kicked off with NKOTB’s 2020 pandemic release “House Party” and the Block’s “Full Service” (co-written with Lady Gaga). A rip-roaring remix medley followed, including early release, “Call It What You Want” mixed with Crystal Waters’ “100% Pure Love”, and “Twisted” interspersed with the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”
The group also pushed play on a string of crowd-pumping covers like Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On a Prayer” before Jordan Knight, 52, flipped the tape to a slow and sexy side.
Taking centre stage with a wind machine, the 52-year-old father of two looked like he stepped out of fans’ teenage dreams as his unbuttoned white shirt billowed behind him while he serenaded the audience with “Baby, I Believe in You”. More ballads followed as Wood, 53, had Blockheads swooning during “Valentine Girl” and Jordan Knight belted out “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)”.
Helloooo Jordan Knight 🔥 pic.twitter.com/9j3zZB7zuM
— KoolKiwis (@KoolKiwis) May 29, 2022
“There were 67 people in the parking lot at Tower Records when we performed on a truck,” Wahlberg reflected during the L.A. show, about one of the group’s heyday Hollywood performances. “I know all 67 are here and we’re grateful you bought 15,000 friends with you!”
After leading a sea of waving arms during “Hangin’ Tough”, the quintet returned for an encore featuring the tour lineup’s catchy new collaboration, “Bring Back the Time”, before the ensemble closed the show with one last round of Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”.
The tour will hit Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on June 22, before the 50-plus-date run wraps in Hawaii. The group will then sail the high seas during a fan cruise to Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas in October.
Wahlberg indicated they have no intention of slowing down after that.
“If you think growing up together was fun, wait till you see how much fun we’ll have growing old together!”