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Originally published Friday, July 5, 2013 at 5:32 AM

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New Kids on the Block: Not boys anymore, but still at it

Eighties phenoms New Kids on the Block, 25 years after their initial burst of fame, visit the Tacoma Dome, July 9.

Special to The Seattle Times

Concert preview

New Kids on the Block with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Tacoma Dome, Tacoma; $27.50-$89.50 (800-745-3000 or

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I appreciate that their music is clean with no profanity. Unlike today's artists (A$AP... MORE


It might simply be time to call them Old Kids on the Block.

More than 25 years after their debut as a Boston boy band (created by R&B producer Maurice Starr), New Kids on the Block are back on the road with fellow boy bands 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men. Dubbed “The Package Tour,” it includes a concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Tacoma Dome.

When New Kids on the Block, or simply NKOTB, first came through the Seattle area in March 1989 for a KPLZ-FM St. Patrick’s Day event featuring Alice Cooper and Donny Osmond at Houlihan’s in Bellevue, their fans were too young to attend a party at a bar. So their meet-and-greet party was moved to the nearby Fred Meyer store.

By the summer of 1989, the group’s sophomore album, “Hangin’ Tough,” had exploded in popularity and the boys — Donnie Wahlberg, Joe McIntyre, Danny Wood, and brothers Jonathan and Jordan Knight — were bona fide pop stars. NKOTB’s show at the Washington State Fair in September was almost too much for the grand old fair. “Groaning under the weight of nearly 10,000 hyperventilating fans and their weary parents, the grandstand looked ready to snap from metal fatigue,” I wrote in a review for The Post-Intelligencer.

The piercing screams and foot-stomping of the mostly female audience accompanied such hits as “Please Don’t Go Girl,” “Cover Girl” and “(You Got It) The Right Stuff.” It was a skimpy show with more chatter than music, but for fans caught up in the summer’s NKOTB hysteria, it was a memorable event.

By 1990, the group’s “Magic Summer” tour (which played the Kingdome), was expected to generate more than $44 million in ticket sales and another $34 million in merchandising.

At the September 1990 show at the Kingdome, McDonald’s commercials played on the screens, and anti-drug messages peppered a show that included illusions created by magician Harry Blackstone. More than 45,000 concert-goers attended.

But a year later, a NKOTB backlash began to gather steam. A student survey in Spin magazine asked the question: “If law and normal circumstances were suspended for one day, whom would you kill?” Respondents picked Saddam Hussein, followed by NKOTB.

The group’s February 1991 show at the Tacoma Dome was a scaled-down production, minus the McDonald’s commercials and Blackstone’s special effects.

NKOTB disbanded in the mid-’90s after the release of its commercially disappointing fourth album, “Face the Music.” For more than a decade, the group resisted attempts to reunite.

Finally, in 2008, the group announced it would record new songs and stage a tour, which included a November concert at the Tacoma Dome.

To date, the band has sold more than 80 million records. For the current tour, NKOTB is performing songs from its new album, “10,” as well as greatest hits. The tour is long on nostalgia for an era of boy bands that drew the adoration of millions.

Gene Stout:

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