New Kids on the Block keep Xcel Energy crowd on their feet with infectious, campy energy

In the years since they reunited in 2008, New Kids on the Block have managed to use a handful of lightweight boy band hits — “Step by Step,” “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” and “Hangin’ Tough” among them — to fuel a remarkably entertaining and surprisingly sustained comeback.

Their latest tour hit St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday and about 15,000 fans showed up for a breezy evening of late ’80s/early ’90s nostalgia with some help from fellow travelers Salt-N-Pepa, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson and Naughty by Nature.

The New Kids have released new music over the past decade and included three fresh songs (from a new 30th anniversary deluxe reissue of “Hangin’ Tough”) during Tuesday’s show. They’ve also managed to elevate a few of the post-reunion tracks like “Remix (I Like The)” and “Summertime” into concert favorites just by performing them with such gusto.

But the New Kids are also savvy enough to realize the strength in their throwback appeal. As such, their current outing is dubbed the Mixtape Tour and performed on an LED main stage shaped like a cassette and a second satellite stage that’s a giant compact disc. And speaking of tapes, with no band in sight Tuesday, it was pretty clear they were performing to one. (Which is a shame because they had a killer live band last time they were here in 2017.)

None of the New Kids’ vocals seemed to be piped in, however, given all the missed or flat notes. But they more than made up for that with giddy, infectious energy that kept fans screaming all night. Even Jonathan Knight, who usually looks bored and/or nervous, showed up to the party Tuesday, as did spray-tanned WWE heel contender Danny Wood.

They’re all hovering around the age of 50 — Joey McIntyre is the baby at 46 while the openly gay Jonathan Knight is the daddy at 50 — but maintain decidedly non-dad bods, which they flaunted both on and off stage, thanks to their now-famous “quickchange cam.”

Further expanding the mixtape theme, the New Kids took the stage after a (terrible) DJ and then embedded mini sets from the other acts into their show, turning it into more than two hours of non-stop music. Tiffany popped up for what appeared to be a one-and-done with “I Think We’re Alone Now.” Debbie Gibson followed with a medley of “Out of the Blue,” “Shake Your Love” and “Electric Youth” that proved she’s as perky as ever, even if she was clearly outsung by (shock!) Tiffany.

Both women returned for second sets, with McIntyre joining Gibson for “Lost in Your Eyes.” Salt-N-Pepa and Naughty by Nature also rolled out their party bangers, from “Push It” to “O.P.P.”

At one point, the New Kids took a break from singing to dance along to a megamix of pop smashes that opened with Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and wrapped with Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Jordan Knight used Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” as an opportunity to expose his abs and gyrate slowly along to the strip club anthem. It was sort of like a drag show, except with dads.


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