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    New Kids bring grown-up appreciation to Fenway

    New Kids on the Block will perform at Fenway Park Saturday night.
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images
    New Kids on the Block will perform at Fenway Park Saturday night.

    Saturday night, Fenway Park will host a home-grown celebration of the musical kind when New Kids on the Block, the Dorchester-bred quintet that achieved boy-band dominance in the ’80s and ’90s and then doubled down on it after reuniting in 2008, takes the stage.

    If other post-comeback shows are any indication, Saturday night’s concert will be a feisty affair that pays homage to the members’ days as, well, actual kids, while showing off their grown side in a way that appeals not just to those in the audience who decked out their lockers with members’ pictures back in the day, but their children as well. The synchronized dance moves that mobilized the masses to dial up MTV’s request line remain, for the most part, intact, but they’re paired with the guys’ more mature personalities as well as new, 21st-century-friendly material like songs from the EP “Thankful,” which was released on the first day of this tour.

    Joey McIntyre says that his bandmates’ devotion to stoking each crowd’s energy is an integral part of their DNA. “Ever since back in the day in Dorchester — at shows at the [Joseph] Lee School, at every show — we tried to figure out, ‘How are we gonna win them over this time?’ ” recalls McIntyre. “That mentality always came first. There’s a good dose of showmanship in the group; we come from the era of putting on a show.”


    New Kids used Boston as a proving ground in the years before they hit it big with their second album, “Hangin’ Tough,” woodshedding their live approach in front of local audiences.

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    “For three years, before we got a hit record, we were just playing talent shows and festivals, for all-black audiences, because that’s where our music was being played,” recalls McIntyre. “That’s how we came up. There was a big part of Boston that didn’t even know about us.”

    Once the quintet became teen sensations, they repped for Boston — even if some in the city didn’t reciprocate.

    “When we got some hit records and it got crazy, we wore our hearts on our sleeve, and we wore where we were from on our sleeve,” McIntyre says. “All our fans knew that we would do it Boston-style, as we would say. And there were girls who loved us . . . and there were guys who wanted to kick our ass because we were stealing their girls,” he says, laughing.

    “In their heyday, they got a lot of [expletive] from nitwits because, you know, they were doing what they were doing,” notes Mighty Mighty Bosstones frontman Dicky Barrett, a friend of McIntyre’s. Backlash is an integral stage of any huge pop act’s trajectory toward fame. But the band’s 2008 reunion found them being greeted warmly across the board.


    “When we came back in 2008, I felt like we were like the Red Sox or something. Doormen were asking us, ‘Is this the first day of rehearsal?’ It was tangible. People were just proud of us,” McIntyre notes.

    In the years between the group’s breakup and comeback, people who looked down on pop of the New Kids’ ilk came to terms with the idea that the fivesome’s biggest singles — slick yet light R&B jams like the effervescent “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” sparkling ballads like the falsetto showcase “Please Don’t Go Girl” — were worthy additions to the pop canon.

    “Time is everything,” says McIntyre. “The same way our fans were ready to look back and embrace the past, the city of Boston was, too.”

    After the Total Package Tour wraps up, the New Kids’ next step is a fall cruise — their ninth — where they can get up close and personal with newly minted fans and old-school Blockheads. With Donnie Wahlberg starring in the CBS police drama “Blue Bloods,” and the other band members — Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight, and Danny Wood — having families and careers of their own, the group’s time together is limited, but that makes figuring out what to actually do when they’re together more fun.

    “We do really run and gun up there, and we’re all in our 40s now,” notes McIntyre. “But right away, we think . . . What about Mick Jagger? What about Steven Tyler?’ We look to them to know that we’ve still got a lot of gas in the tank. It’s fun not knowing where it leads; we’ve been so fortunate the last 10 years, and there lots of different incarnations to figure out.”

    New Kids On The Block: The Total Package Tour


    With Paula Abdul, Boyz II Men

    At Fenway Park, Saturday. Tickets $34.50 and up. 877-733-7699,

    Maura Johnston can be reached at