Boys no longer, but show proves Backstreet's back
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Date: Nov 14, 2008
Review by Stephanie Classen of the Star Phoenix
Who knew so many Saskatoon women spoke scream fluently? At Thursday's backstreet Boys concert tongues were wagging and shrieking as the group's four members sang, danced and entertained the hell out of a predominantly female audience.
The last time the pop group came to Saskatoon they had yet to make it huge in the U.S., Nick Carter still hadn't dated Paris Hilton and their fans were predominantly ages nine through 17. But 10 years later, if their concert at Credit Union Centre proved anything, the appetite for their catchy hits and synchronized dance moves hasn't waned.
The fans are older but still overwhemingly enthusiastic, wearing concerts T-shirts and holding up signs. One read: "I'm old enough now."
Carter, Brian Littrell, A.J. MacLean (sic) and Howie Dorough -- now a foursome after the departure of fifth member Kevin Richardson -- entered the stage in a boxing ring. Dressed in silky robes each Boy was introduced and started shadow boxing around the ring. The gimmick, which included some excerpts of Eye of the Tiger, felt charmingly dated. Their first two songs, Larger Than Life and Everyone, were both odes to the fans, who took no time to sing every word and exercise their freedom to lose their voices with ear-piercing screams.
The opening few songs included several well-executed dance interludes. One, to Kanye West's Stronger, seemed like a bid to stay relevant. Fortunately the boys -- now mostly in their 30s -- are actually better dancers than they were in the late 1009s. By the third song the sweat was pouring and all four were working hard for the well-deserved fan response.
The show had all the elements that make a pop concert entertaining. There were at least five outfit changes and several theatrical moments, including a fake poker game. The boys even jumped into the pit to touch hands with audience members. A former superfan, I had to fight the impulse to launch myself over several rows of girls when Littrell came over to my side of the stadium.
The song catalogue covered new material -- Any Other Way, Inconsolable, You Can Let Go -- and all the best-loved hits -- Quit Playin' Games, As Long As You Love Me, I Wait It That Way and All I Have To Give.
Each member also had the chance to sing a solo piece, but those were mere appetizers comared to the better-known songs. The boys are strongest, vocally and in personality, as a group. Carter is still the pretty boy, MacLean (sic) is still the bad boy, Littrell is still the goofy one and Dorough... well, he's there too. But they are all sharp singewrs whose chemistry together is evident.
The pop heyday of 10 years ago is over and the Backistreet Boys aren't able to sell every last seat of the Credit Union Centre but they still seem grateful for loyal fans and proud of their success. Plus, with Littrell's propensity to mug for the audience and Nick's odd choice of a bow tie with one of his outfits, the boys don't appear to take themselves too seriously. It's not staggering musical genius but the entertainment value is through the roof.
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