It's a year of milestones for New Kids on the Block.
They just released their 10th studio album, fittingly called "10" (The Block/Universal), and they are coming up on the 25th anniversary of the tour where they became arena headliners, when "Hangin' Tough" came out. It's a time they immortalized in their 2008 comeback hit "Summertime," when Joey McIntyre yells "Jones Beach! 1988!"
However, things are very different these days for NKOTB. For starters, they are very much in control of their own destinies now. "We grew up in the business," says Donnie Wahlberg, calling from the band's rehearsal space in Connecticut. "We've learned from the best and now all the guys are applying themselves today."
Wahlberg, who splits his time between music and acting, currently part of the cast of CBS' "Blue Bloods," says he has become the unofficial creative director for "The Package Tour," which stops at Nassau Coliseum Saturday. "I know what needs to go into a tour," he says, adding that all the other New Kids -- McIntyre, Jonathan Knight, Jordan Knight and Danny Wood -- have input in the show. "I look at it like a movie. You have to open up strong. You have a surprise. Somewhere along the line it takes a turn, and you get to your next surprise. Then, you have to finish strong."
WHAT TO EXPECT "We'll definitely be tapping into '10' on this tour," says Wahlberg. "When we were doing the album, we were thinking of performance. A lot of the songs that we were choosing, that we were gravitating towards, felt like they were made for an arena."
THINKING OF BOSTON NKOTB was set to be part of last night's "Boston Strong" benefit concert with Aerosmith, James Taylor and other Boston artists, whose proceeds went to the One Fund Boston for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. McIntyre experienced the tragedy firsthand, finishing the marathon 11 minutes before the bombs went off. "It's hard to imagine what the energy will be like that night," Wahlberg says, a week before that show. "We have to be there for our hometown when they need us."
FANS FIRST Wahlberg says that even after the group has done successful arena tours alone and with the Backstreet Boys, there are still those who question whether "The Package Tour" will work. "Our first priority is to make our fans happy," he says. "Whether it's an album, a tour, a video, a cruise, our first goal is to satisfy our fans, not to prove the naysayers wrong. But proving the naysayers wrong is a really sweet cherry on top."
WHAT "The Package Tour" featuring New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees
WHEN|WHERE 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nassau Coliseum, 1255 Hempstead Tpke., Uniondale
INFO $24.50-$94.50; 516-794-9300, nassaucoliseum.com