NKOTB Rewound the Mixtape for Nostalgia-Eager Fans in Saint Louis Saturday

NKOTB performing Saturday night at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

 

–by Ashley Cox

Pulling into Kiel parking garage on the evening of Saturday, May 14 for New Kids on the Block’s Mixtape Tape 2022 tour, I was reminded that driving downtown is still a nightmare on multi event nights. I dodged random lane closures, Cards fans, horse carriages, and joined the streams of Blockheads (the name of fervent fans of the group) heading towards Enterprise Center to see the 5 men that have held their hearts since the mid-1980s.

NKOTB performing Saturday night at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

The second iteration of the Mixtape Tour, the first happening in 2019 which nostalgia tours just seemed like goofy fun and not the emotional necessity that the last 2 years have brought forth. Not since my tween years have I seen so many custom made shirts (in actual puffy paint!) professing love for a favorite member or noting the amount of concerts they had attended.  Side ponies, blue eyeshadow, and 80s neon rounded out the fashion with the occasional dead eyed husband in a t-shirt and jorts.

NKOTB performing Saturday night at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Before the main show, the Illtown Sluggaz hyped up the crowd with a short set of spun tunes and a few originals. DJ Slugga is a mascot bear and the group was created by members of Naughty by Nature, a previous Mixtape act. Their new song “Fiesta” featuring Ryan Lane transported me back to high school and hanging out by my best friend’s pool but with a 2022 twist.

En Vogue performing Saturday night at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

NKOTB took to the stage with what may be the most deafening screams I have ever heard. I am not new to boy bands and heartthrob concerts but the 99.9% female audience reached an unprecedented level of shrieking. I was impressed with the vocals, especially Joey McIntyre and Jordan Knight.

NKOTB performing Saturday night at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Donnie Wahlberg, the group’s founding member, clearly loved the return to touring the most as he danced, wiggled his butt, and winked at fans. With an average age of 52, the dancing may not have been as vigorous as it used to be, they adapted well and made sure to give plenty of fan service. A second smaller stage within the crowd was frequently used and the Boys would walk through the crowd to get there, pausing for videos, hugs, and hand touches.

Donnie Wahlberg summoning flames like a boss while NKOTB perform Saturday night at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Holding to its Mixtape name, in addition to their catalog of songs, NKOTB performed sets of mashups to 80, 90s, and noughties songs. The Twisted/Sweet Dreams remix which featured an exceptional amount of writhing, gyrating, flashlight choreography, and Matrix-style visuals left my mouth agape. The Blockheads around me were living their best lives. My personal favorite was a bit more classic. The group performed “Right Stuff” while the original music video played in the background. I am a softy and enjoyed seeing the apparent joy of returning to their fans and the group’s personal, long-term bonds.

En Vogue performing Saturday night at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

I was especially excited to see additional touring acts: Rick Astley, Salt-N-Pepa, and En Vogue. I first saw En Vogue a full 23 years ago when they toured with NSYNC! They remain just as magical. “Don’t Let Go” may be one of my favorite songs to exist and 11-year-old me should not have been singing it with such intensity back in the day. Getting to watch them and Salt-N-Pepa perform “Whatta Man” together was iconic and will be a Core Memory for me.

Salt-N-Pepa performing Saturday night at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Not just one but 2 of the best female groups of all time were on the tour. Salt-N-Pepa brought the energy. “None of Your Business” and “Shoop” with the rap taken over by Donnie had the crowd moving. Rick Astley is surely part elf as he maintains that still ageless quality that he had in the 80s. “Never Gonna Give You Up” the obvious cultural touchpoint had the crowd singing along but he also performed my mom’s favorite “Strong Man.”

Rick Astley performing Saturday night at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Special moments included the New Kids performing a set a slow jams featuring a Kiss Cam (not just for sports anymore!), I chuckled when it landed on one couple and then man leaned off camera to kiss his actual wife. Note to the camera operator: make sure to confirm the right couple before such a tight zoom!

En Vogue performing Saturday night at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Along with a celebratory round of “Happy Birthday” and cake for member Danny Wood’s birthday, he gave a beautiful speech to fans about his joy of growing up and growing old together.

NKOTB performing Saturday night at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

I left the show with ringing ears and an exceptional respect for NKTOB and their fans. I have never experienced such a multi-generational, cult like following and look forward to the adding a hopeful 3rd Mixtape to my concert collection.

Be sure to check out the complete photo gallery after the setlist.

Mixtape 2022 Setlist:

NKOTB
BRING BACK THE TIME
BLOCK PARTY
MY FAVORITE GIRL
DIRTY DANCING
SUMMERTIME
COVERGIRL
RIGHT STUFF
RIGHT STUFF OG
WHISPER / SHOUT

En Vogue
NEVER GONNA GET IT
FREE YOUR MIND

Rick Astley on B Stage
TOGETHER FOREVER
STRONG MAN

NKOTB
HOUSE PARTY
NK RAP
HOLD ON / STROKE
FULL SERVICE / RETURN OF THE MACK
VIVA LA VIDA / HIP SWING
CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT / PURE LOVE
GROOVE IS IN THE HEART
TWISTED / SWEET DREAMS
REMIX / I WANT YOUR LOVE

Salt-N-Pepa
NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS
EXPRESSION
LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX
SHAKE YOUR THANG
WHATTA MAN (With En Vogue)

En Vogue
DON’T LET GO

NKOTB on B Stage
PLEASE DON’T GO GIRL / B STAGE
GAMES
TONIGHT
80’s RECORDS (TBD)

Rick Astley
NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP
CRY FOR HELP

Salt-N-Pepa on B Stage
SHOOP (With Donnie Wahlberg)

NKOTB
BABY I BELIEVE IN YOU
I WANNA BE LOVED BY YOU
DIDN’T I / VALENTINE
IF YOU GO AWAY
I’LL BE LOVING YOU

En Vogue on B Stage
HOLD ON

NKOTB
STEP BY STEP / PUSH IT (With SNP)
HANGIN TOUGH

ALL / A STAGE
BRING BACK THE TIME
NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU U

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