Birthday greetings from Carrie Underwood and a special appearance from duo Big & Rich were among the surprises awaiting legions of New Kids on the Block fans – dubbed Blockheads – as they converged on Bridgestone Arena Wednesday night for a heavy dose of stone-washed, late Eighties nostalgia. Carrie Underwood, whose most recent appearance at the downtown Nashville venue cast her in the role of national anthem singer during the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs, took the stage to help the crowd wish NKOTB members Jordan Knight and Danny Wood "Happy Birthday" in rousing style.
Also taking the stage were country duo Big & Rich (Big Kenny and John Rich), who dusted off their rowdy 2004 breakthrough hit, "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy," for the 20,000 spectators. Backstage, there was an American Idol reunion for Underwood and singer/dancer and original Idol judge Paula Abdul, who was one of the Total Package Tour's show's opening acts, along with R&B hitmakers Boyz II Men. Abdul and Underwood first met in 2005 when the Oklahoma-born vocal powerhouse auditioned for, and eventually won, the show's fourth season. "And I'm instantly back in 6th grade," Underwood wrote in an Instagram post spotlighting Boyz II Men's mega-hit, "On Bended Knee."
The Total Package Tour continues Friday in New Orleans, with upcoming shows in Houston, Austin, Dallas and Tulsa. meanwhile, Underwood's husband, Mike Fisher, the captain of Nashville's Predators, returns to the hockey arena tonight as the team take on the Anaheim Ducks, in a bid to extend the Preds lead to 3 to 1 in the conference playoffs.