This past Friday I, along with several hundred other 20-somethings relived our childhood when seeing the Backstreet Boys’ show at the House of Blues in Atlantic City. Having been performing for the past 15 years, the majority of them now in their 30s, those Boys proved that they still have it goin’ on.
I should preface this review to explain just how hardcore some of my friends and I were dedicated to this band, hopefully not incriminating myself too much in the process. Back during the height of the BSB era two friends stood outside “TRL” with a “Beam Us Up, Carson” sign for hours, one making it on Channel 11’s “News at 11,” being interviewed by a reporter about the pandemonium outside the MTV offices with a record number of fans — think 10 times the extent of Jonas Brothers fans today. Another friend learned the entire “As Long as You Love Me” chair dance, and that’s no easy task — trust me, especially for the uncoordinated like myself. I can’t even do the “Everybody” dance, and I’ve tried many a time.
Sure, we got a lot of heat for liking them. Seventh and eighth grade definitely isn’t an easy period in any kid’s life, and I could never explain to people what “I Want It That Way” meant. Come on, could you? “Ain’t nothing but a heartache/Ain’t nothing but a mistake/Tell me why, I never wanna hear you say I want it that way.” The Backstreet Boys made life a little easier. I could escape from that awkwardness of middle-school life and be in my own world listening to their music. And I did. Granted, they weren’t the first “boy band” to walk the earth, and they definitely won’t be the last, but you cannot deny the presence they’ve had on my generation’s music influence.
The concert Friday night started out the same as every show of theirs I’ve been to — the continuous Backstreet Boys chant minutes before the venue goes dark. Soon thereafter, Brian, Howie, AJ and Nick were spotted onstage in boxing attire as an announcer introduced each member to the crowd. Thunderous applause and the most exasperating high-pitched screaming I have ever encountered at any show followed. I think every woman unleashed her inner 13-year-old Friday night, myself included.
The Backstreet Boys’ set began with a high-intensity performance of “Larger Than Life,” then segued into a cover of Kanye West’s “Stronger” before the venue went dark once more. Seconds later the Boys appeared in leather jackets for “Everyone” off of 2000’s Black and Blue album and “Any Other Way” off of their latest album, Unbreakable, with nonstop energy and impeccable dance moves. Their stage interaction with each other and the fans in the crowd demonstrated their prowess for performing.
Whether it was Brian constantly making comical faces while waving to audience members or Howie winking and blowing kisses, their love for what they do was evident the entire night. Despite having lost one member — Kevin Richardson — and having not been on tour the past few years, the Boys proved to the crowd that they’re not going anywhere, with the promise of a solo album from both AJ and Howie in the near future as well as another album in the works.
“We want to thank you all for 15 unbelievable years,” Howie told the screaming crowd. “We want to thank you for keeping the Backstreet pride alive.” Their nearly two-hour set included 26 songs from their 15-year career. The entire venue was singing along to many of their old hits and fan favorites such as a medley of “As Long as You Love Me,” “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” and “All I Have to Give” complete with their infamous hat dance. Their newer material, such as faster-paced, edgier “Panic” and slower ballad “Unmistakable,” continues to showcase BSB’s solid harmonies, catchy choruses and impeccable intonation.
In addition, each Boy took the stage alone, singing a song off of their previously released solo album (in Nick and Brian’s case) or the debut of a song from their upcoming release (AJ and Howie). While Howie’s song had a Latin vibe to it, AJ’s was much more rock influenced and heavier than the Backstreet Boys’ material.
It was evident that the Boys held a special appreciation for their Jersey fans. “I love Jersey so much that I actually married a Jersey girl,” Howie told the crowd. AJ later added, “Just to set the record straight, my Mom’s from Jersey. Hackensack to be exact,” as the screams rose and echoed throughout the venue.
Screaming isn’t all the Boys got from fans Friday night. During a slower take of their hit “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,” each of the four members sat down at a makeshift card table. While mimicking playing a card game and talking with one another before beginning the song, two fans threw their bras at the Backstreet Boys, practically hitting a startled Brian and Howie in the face. Another fan could be spotted on the balcony flashing the guys continuously throughout their set.
The crowd favorite of the night seemed to be “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” as the Backstreet Boys had everyone jumping along throughout the song. The last song before their encore of “Shape of My Heart,” the guys got the crowd energized, and if they hadn’t come out for one more song, I think fans would have walked away content. Singing their famous line “Backstreet’s back all right,” the Boys have proven that they have lasted 15 years strong. I’m interested to see what the next 15 will be like.
For more on the Backstreet Boys be sure to check out their Website.
Special thanks to Wendy Hu for the picture from the show Friday night!