Backstreet Boys perform in-the-round in Tacoma
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Friday, October 22, 1999
By GENE STOUT
When tickets to the Backstreet Boys went on sale this summer and promptly sold out, one could almost hear the collective thunk of thousands of parents and grandparents kicking themselves for not acting sooner.
Tickets were gone in a heartbeat, leaving many would-be concertgoers empty-handed for the hottest teen-pop show of the fall. And the group's touring schedule was just too tight for a second show.
It's little wonder the premiere boy band -- Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, A.J. McLean and Kevin Richardson -- is selling out show after show around the country. After reaching the top of The Billboard 200 album chart earlier this year, the group's current album, "Millennium" (on Jive Records), remains at No. 3. Sales have surpassed 7 million copies.
Five years of almost non-stop touring have added plenty of polish to the Backstreet Boys' spectacular live show, filled with music (including tight, tight harmonies), choreography and brilliant lighting effects.
Fans can expect a number of special moments in the show. Among them is a segment featuring Littrell's ballad, "The Perfect Fan," dedicated to his mother. The group's current single, "I Want It That Way," is featured in another high-profile segment late in the show. It's guaranteed to ignite the female fans.
The song-and-dance group was founded in 1993 in Orlando, Fla., by school chums McLean, Dorough and Carter. Inspired by such groups as Boyz II Men and Color Me Badd, the trio formed a singing group. Richardson, who was performing at Disney World, joined next, followed by Littrell, who was recruited from Kentucky.
Ambitious from the start, the five singers made a practice of singing a cappella in the lobbies of record-label offices. The tactic paid off; within a year, the group won the opening spot at a Brandy concert and performed at Sea World. Central Florida, with its slicky commercial theme parks and restaurants, was fertile ground for a group of this kind.
The group rapidly gained ground with an independent single, "Tell Me That I'm Dreaming," and loads of stage experience. Jive signed them to a recording contract shortly after an A&R rep heard them perform on a call to his cell phone.
They took off in Europe after the release of "We've Got It Going On." Another song, "I'll Never Break Your Heart," hinted at the group's future hit-making potential in the United States.
In 1997, the Backstreet Boys began work in Florida on their debut U.S. album, which would include the group's European hits as well as a slew of such new songs as "Quit Playing (With My Heart)," "As Long As You Love Me" and "All I Have to Give."
The new sophomore CD, "Millennium," has boosted the Backstreet Boys' credibility in a number of ways. With the powerful single "I Want It That Way," as well as the edgy rocker "Don't Want You Back," the group seems to be reaching out to male fans. Meanwhile, their penchant for romantic pop hasn't diminished. The ballads "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely" and "Don't Wanna Lose You Now" are achingly pretty, with harmonies to match.
On their current tour, the Backstreet Boys are performing in-the-round. The group has been opening its shows with a spectacular airborne entrance on boogie boards, surfing above the stage to the accompaniment of blinding pyrotechnics and the melodramatic "Star Wars" theme.
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