New Kids On The Block Make Packed Xcel Energy Center Swoon


I stick with the decision I made two years ago when I saw New Kids on the Block for the first time ever– Donnie. He’s the one. Yes, yes, I’ve heard it all before. NKOTB was before my time and I just can’t appreciate them the way the generation ahead of me can but, after seeing them live twice now, I can definitely say I appreciate everything about this group from their music, to their synchronized dance moves, to the way they can make everyone get up, out of their seats and have a hell of a good times.

For about twenty minutes before the legendary boy band took the stage, the packed audience full of screeching females was treated to a mix of songs from DJ Slugga. Like many of the other arena shows I’ve been to with DJ openers, DJ Slugga did a great job of keeping the mix lively but also keeping it all over the place. From modern hits to classic boy band jams all culminating to a beautiful Prince ending, DJ Slugga had the audience ready for the amazing night to come. Right after the DJ left the small stage towards the back of the audience, the lights went down and the familiar “Siri ding” (you know, when you push your home button for Siri and you heard that familiar chime) rang through the arena.

I can’t remember how the conversation started but it continued with the typical Siri response of , “I didn’t quite get that”. “I can’t hear you!” Which just amped up the already amped crowd. “What can I help you with?” The mumbled response from the audience was hilarious and met with the response, “OK, getting directions to Jordan Knight’s bedroom.” The conversation went on and on like a typical Siri conversation does when you’re a couple of drinks in and ended with “Let’s get this shit poppin’!” Which is exactly what happened.

The boy band kicked their set off with “The Way” and continued through a lengthy and truly impressive nearly three hour show with some help from some friends (more on that later). It was sing-a-long after sing-a-long for the audience. Last time I saw NKOTB, I felt a little lost in all of the sing-a-longs being that they were sadly before my time but, having done some studying over the past couple of years, I was finally able to join in and truly experience the mania sweeping over the audience.

Performing mostly upbeat songs, other than some pyro here and there, whizzing lights, confetti, and platforms on the stages that would move up and down, there really wasn’t much to watch other than the nearly 50 year old men dance (definitely not a complaint) and make me feel like a complete grandma in comparison to their energy levels. Even though the show seemed a bit understated for the iconic group, there was something magical about it. Even after 30 years of performing and doing their thing, it was clear that they have not forgotten that they wouldn’t be where they were today without the audience that has been in love with them since day 1. That was made obvious by the way they would stop and take selfies and give hugs while moving from the main stage to the smaller stage situated towards the back of the venue. 

Although it’s been years since NKOTB was a hot new boy band, there’s no denying that they have all aged well like a fine wine. I would be lying if I didn’t catch myself drooling over the men as they danced like they were eighteen years old again. Clearly playing to the primarily female audience, there were multiple times the men pulled up their shirts and other times where the cameramen seemed to focus in on some attributes of the rockstars other than their faces. The screams from the audience were deafening and, at times, drowned out the sound of the music but I think that just added to the charm of the evening. It was easy to tell that most of the women around me hadn’t had a night out on the town in awhile and watching them let their hair down and just have a night without the husband/ boyfriend/ kids/ etc added to the sense of fun I was having.

Although last night was NKOTB’s tour, the night wasn’t just about them. Named “The Mixtape Tour”, the audience was treated to a true mixtape straight from another team. Performances from Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Naughty By Nature, and Salt-N-Pepa happened throughout the night. So maybe I was a bit too young to know some of those acts but I was not oblivious to their star power or talent. Debbie Gibson and Tiffany were the two acts that I had honestly never heard of before but I instantly fell in love with both of these ladies as they sang their hearts out. Although it’s been years since these two had their hit songs taking over the radio waves (did they even have radios back then?), the talent is still there and it was fun to see how, although the years pass, a passion for music and performing never fades.

Naughty By Nature had the entire audience grooving to their infectious beats during their quick performances throughout the night. Their energy was infectious to say the least and their songs, although not familiar to me, were clearly favorites of those around me. Being able to catch Salt-N-Pepa on the same night as all of these other iconic acts was truly just the icing on the cake. Complete with male dancers that had the audience getting even more excited, the duo had no problem telling the few men in the audience that their set was for the ladies. Powerful and in control at all times, Salt-N-Pepa proved themselves to be great performers and I hope they come back and headline a show soon because I would definitely want to see that.

I typically look forward to arena shows because I know that means that I will have a comfy seat to sit in but I’m pretty sure my butt never touched that chair. The energy was electric and it was impossible to not get wrapped up in all of the excitement. From singing and dancing to swaying and having your eyes swell up with tears due to the beauty of some of the songs, the nearly three hour show was definitely rollercoaster ride that I never wanted to end. From the first note of “My Way” to the final note of “80’s Baby” I was absolutely captivated by the performers.

Maybe there was something in the air last night or maybe it was just the stunning talent and passion that was laid out on the stage, regardless, last night was an absolutely amazing show.