More Culture:

June 22, 2017

All grown up, New Kids on the Block still have 'The Right Stuff'

The former boy band is on another arena tour singing hits old and new

Boy Bands Interviews
NKOTB Press photo/for PhillyVoice

"Thankful" is the first extended play by New Kids on the Block, released on May 12, 2017.

New Kids on the Block are living it up during its surprising second act. The New Kids aren’t so new anymore. Each of the former boy band pinups is – (gasp) middle-aged.

“Eventually, if you’re lucky, you grow up,” Donnie Wahlberg said.

Wahlberg, 47, the vocalist-actor and brother of ubiquitous thespian Mark Wahlberg, has impressed audiences as he has aged.

CBS has renewed “Blue Bloods," the series he stars in with Tom Selleck, for an eighth season. Donnie Wahlberg is the executive producer of the TNT reality series “Boston’s Finest.” The Beantown native is also married to perky actress/radio personality Jenny McCarthy.

“I’m the luckiest girl in the world,” McCarthy said. “Donnie is so amazing.”

What might be most amazing about Wahlberg and his New Kids on the Block mates, Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre and Danny Wood is that the act is headlining arenas once again. The only other pop act which hit such rarified heights during the Reagan era and is living a glorious second act is Jon Bon Jovi.

“I never would have guessed it,” Wahlberg said. 

“The fans never forgot. For some reason, they stayed with us. It’s just incredible. We’ve been very fortunate, but we’ve also worked really hard for everything that we’ve achieved. Nothing was ever been handed to us. We earned everything.”

Sure, there were boy bands before New Kids on the Block, but the rough around the edges entertainers from South Boston took teen idol worship to another level during their salad days.

“I remember what it was like back then,” Wahlberg said. 

“It was out of control. It was surreal. Fans would do whatever they could to get into our limos or our hotel rooms. Fans took some crazy risks. They would stop at nothing. We had to be under the radar. Those were some wild days. You can’t help but look back and laugh.”

Fans would do whatever they could to get into our limos or our hotel rooms. Fans took some crazy risks."

The group was assembled by boy band svengali Maurice Starr during the mid-80s.

The charismatic teens pierced the hearts of young ladies courtesy of its perky synth-driven pop.

“All we wanted to do was be part of a group,” Wahlberg said. 

“Before us, there was New Edition, who we idolized. Then there were the Jackson 5 and the Osmonds, but the thing is that so many boy bands came out after us. They all seemed to follow a formula. They had to have the heartthrob, the young one, the cute one, the tough guy. You have all these auditions to fill slots for boy bands after us. There were only about eight guys that auditioned for New Kids. Can you believe that considering how it all exploded? It wasn’t like there were a lot of white boys, who wanted to sing and dance in a boy band. Back then, that wasn’t too cool in 1986.”

But Wahlberg has plenty of fans still today. He remains a pop and television sensation, co-owns the Wahlburgers chain of restaurants, and is the father of two sons.

“We have nothing to complain about,” Wahlberg said. 

“I get to do what I love, which is amazing. The fans just keep coming back to hear our songs.”

New Kids on the Block appear Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., Philadelphia.

Tickets are $29.95, $34.95, $49.95, $69.95, $89.95, $119.95 and $249.95. Show time is 7:30 p.m. Call 215-336-3600 for more information or click here