Brian, Nick, AJ, Kevin, and Howie. Five names you can recite to anyone who grew up in the nineties, and they will immediately be recognized as belonging to the members of one of the most famous boy bands in the world, Backstreet Boys. Having completely earned their place in the history of pop music, the five now-men have continued to create solid music, most recently with their 2013 release, In A World Like This, and tour with the same bravado and soul that began their phenomenal music career.
By the time the Backstreet Boys’ In A World Like This tour hit The Forum last Thursday night, the band had already circled the globe for a year, including a previous leg in North America. This tour was the first time fans saw the original lineup in seven years (member Kevin Richardson rejoined BSB in 2012), and from the opening guitar riff of “The Call,” the stadium was electrified.
The best-selling boy band in the world, clad in dapper blue suits, danced in perfect unison to “Don’t Want You Back.” Striding across the stage, AJ McLean and Brian Litrell belted out the high notes with the hearts of teenage performers and the skill of veteran singers. In a world where pop artists often lip sync their songs with loud backing tracks, the five men of Backstreet Boys sang every note live with passionate three-part harmonies and heartfelt crooning.
Although many members of the audience came solely to hear such memorable hits as “All I Have to Give” and “As Long As You,” tracks from In A World Like This were met with enthusiasm as well. McLean and Kevin Richardson dedicated “Show ‘Em (What You’re Made Of)” to their children, and the rousing “Permanent Stain” was a lost-love-centered track fans embraced.
Each member greeted the audience as if they were old friends during the multiple wardrobe changes. McLean fittingly asked the crowd if they were ready to “party like it’s 1999!” before launching into “We’ve Got It Going On.” Fans also got a sneak peek of the band’s upcoming film, Backstreet Boys: The Movie, which will document the group’s worldwide success and personal lives over the past two decades.
The quintet had a playful confidence, particularly Nick Carter and his Michael Jackson-esque hip thrusts and kicks, exhibiting a clear comfort with performing and each other, no surprise due to the band’s twenty-one-year history and “thousands” of shows together. McLean reminisced about playing “pet shops, bowling alleys, book stores” and everything in between, and the packed amphitheater erupted into applause in honor of the group’s legacy.
An acoustic set, featuring the men playing guitars and McLean keeping beat on the cajón, treated fans to some of the group’s most emotional ballads, including “Drowning,” “10,000 Promises,” and their seminal hit “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart).” The encore consisted of the expected classics (“I Want It That Way”), the perfect party-starter (“Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”), and a song dedicated to the fans (“Larger Than Life”).
It was an evening filled with everything a true Backstreet Boy fan would want: nostalgia-inducing songs, a larger-than-life concert, and enthusiastic performances. Fans left the venue abuzz, comforted that a band they loved decades ago is just as they remembered, because as the men themselves sang, “As long as there’ll be music, we’ll be coming back again.”
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