New Kids return with a more mature sound

If you grew up in the 1970s or 1980s, chances are you will like one of the big three shows this week.

The New Kids on the Block had a strong chart run from 1988-1990, with six certified gold singles, two platinum singles, and more than 16 million albums sold. Today, most of the band members are turning 40, so the group's name really should be changed, like when the Young Rascals became The Rascals in the 1960s.

All five original members are on board for a new album (“The Block,” released on Sept. 2) and a tour which brings them to the Izod Center, 50 State Route 120, off the New Jersey Turnpike in East Rutherford, on Tuesday night (and the Borgata Event Center in Atlantic City Sept. 27). Vocalists Donnie Wahlberg, Joe McIntyre, Danny Wood, Jordan Knight and Jon Knight were accused of lip-synching when performing live during their heyday (or singing along to vocalists who did not appear on stage), but those days are gone.

At this show, expect to hear the No. 1 chart hits “Step by Step,” “I'll Be Loving You (Forever),” and “Hangin' Tough,” along with the No. 2 single “Cover Girl” and the No. 3 smash “You Got It (The Right Stuff).” Mix in some songs from the new album like “Grown Man,” “Full Service,” “Single” and “Put it On My Tab” and you have a solid set list.

And if you are wondering if this late-1980s band can still be relevant today, check out the guests Ne-Yo, Akon, Pussycat Dolls and New Edition on the CD. The collaboration with these hit makers resulted in a more mature album that crosses over from club music to hip-hop and contemporary R&B sounds.

Opening the show at the Izod Center is British singer Natasha Bedingfield, who hit it big in 2005 with the No. 5 single “Unwritten” and the No. 17 song “These Words.” She will probably perform some of the songs from her debut pop CD, like “Peace of Me” or “Stumble,” but should concentrate on introducing material from last year's disc “Pocketful of Sunshine.” The new CD leans more toward dance/pop, R&B and ballads with the tunes “Happy,” “Put Your Arms Around Me,” “Say it Again” and “Not Givin' Up.”