There was a point early in Friday’s stop on the Mixtape Tour where New Kids on the Block, the five-man vocal group anchoring these four-act bills, just stood still on the TD Garden stage, not talking, just surveying the frenzied crowd. The night was only about five songs into what would be a 2½-plus-hour show. But confetti cannons had already been fired multiple times, and the audience was in the mood to shower Jonathan Knight, Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, and Danny Wood — who came together in Boston nearly 40 years ago — with the sort of adulation that you’d see at the end of a night, not near its beginning.
Such is the relationship that the New Kids on the Block have with their fans since the 1986 release of their self-titled album, a record that would launch a late-1980s’ teenpop explosion that still has seismic effects in 2022. That freedom has allowed them to play with the structure of their shows, like this year’s edition of the Mixtape Tour, which also included British soul belter Rick Astley, hip-hop groundbreakers Salt-N-Pepa, and fiery R&B singers En Vogue. New Kids’ classic singles like the crushed-out synthpop-soul smash “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” and newer efforts like the better-with-age appreciation “Remix (I Like The)” were broken up with mini-sets by the other three acts, as well as snippets of cuts from the ‘80s and ‘90s that were both interpolated into the New Kids’ tracks and played as enticements for singing along.
The well-rounded bill had multiple songs that have retained their pop potency since their initial release. En Vogue’s harmonies are still arresting, as the introduction to their thumping debut single “Hold On” proved; Salt-N-Pepa remain playful and charming. (The underlying messages of En Vogue’s liberatory “Free Your Mind” and Salt-N-Pepa’s education-minded “Let’s Talk About Sex” still resonated, too.) Astley was dapper and self-deprecating, with his second set’s opening being framed as a Rickroll — the surprise appearance of his still-exquisite 1987 debut single “Never Gonna Give You Up,” which became an online joke in the late ‘00s that’s stuck around long enough to become a reminder of that track’s sublimity — by master prankster Wahlberg.
And then there were the New Kids, whose sets channeled both the wide-eyed charm of their early days and a grown-man streak that recalled the headier moments of the 2012 film “Magic Mike” and its sequel. They posed for selfies; they ran through the crowd; they even gave the show some local color with multiple shout-outs to different parts of Greater Boston and an extended “Sweet Caroline” sing-along. The night ended with a boisterous run-through of the New Kids-fronted, tour lineup-assisted pep-up cut “Bring Back the Time,” and a final surprise — one last run-through of “Never Gonna Give You Up,” with the line “we’ve known each other for so long” having an added significance this time around.
Maura Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: THE MIXTAPE TOUR
With Rick Astley, En Vogue, and Salt-N-Pepa. At TD Garden, Friday.