Photos and Review by Jeff Lasich
In 1988, if you told me I would attending a New Kids on the Block concert in 2022, I would tell you that you were out of your mind. As it turns out, I was wrong. On Tuesday night July 19, I found myself at PPG Arena amongst 10,000 plus screaming moms, daughters and in betweens for the 2022 Mix Tape Tour.
Getting the crowd amped up for the night was Illtown Sluggaz, which was 2/3 of Naughty by Nature and a mascot. They performed clips of many hits from the 80s/90s with a little NBN tossed in. A little after 8pm, the lights dropped and NKOTB emerged from the shadows. They hit the stage with some pyro and busted out some of their iconic poses. The show opened with “Block Party,” which seamed to set the tone for the night. From the start, it was obvious this group was born to perform. They’d dance separate or as a group, which not missing a beat singing. They would pick out members of the audience and sing directly to them. You could almost hear the swooning and the jealousy. Later on during the show, NKOTB would actually go into the audience for more direct contact with their fans. The show was filled with lasers, fire and confetti. Even if they aren’t the newest kids on the block anymore, there is no sign of Joey, Jonathan, Jordan, Danny or Donnie slowing down any time soon.
After about 6-7 songs, the group left the stage and 90’s divas, En Vogue made their first appearance of the night. They performed a couple songs and then everyone’s attention shifted to the smaller stage, where Rick Astley was singing “Together Forever.” Rick seemed legitimately happy to be there, smiling ear to ear during the two songs he did during this part of the show. Back to the main stage and a wardrobe change, NKOTB returned. After a small handful of songs, Salt N Pepa came out to perform some of their hits. I caught myself thinking about how I first heard of them around 1987 through some mix tape that had the song “My Mic Sounds Nice” on it and now many years later I’m watching them in an arena. They did a few songs and then they were joined on stage by En Vogue where they together sang “Whatta Man.” Salt and Pepa left for En Vogue to slow things down with “Don’t Let Go.” The lights fell and Joey McIntyre was by himself on the small stage with a mic hanging from the ceiling to start “Please Don’t Go Girl.” The rest of the group joined him there, giving the other half of the crowd the up close and personal experience. The rest of the night switched from group to group, with everyone doing “Never Gonna Give You Up” to close the show.
When I showed up at the arena, one of the Live Nation reps were surprised to see me as it’s not a show I would typically cover. And she was right. But all the acts put on a tremendous performance and at the same time provided a nice walk down memory lane.