Backstreet Boys - Still got it goin’ on

[ 29-02-2008 ]

Fifteen years on, the Backstreet Boys have lost neither their talent nor appeal.

EVEN back in 1993 when the Backstreet Boys were formed, people were scoffing at the concept of boybands. Other than their pre-pubescent fan base, they were given little credit – members of boybands are apparently pretty boys who can’t sing, and dance to cheesy choreography.

Two nights ago, Malaysians at the Sunway Surf Beach at Sunway Lagoon Theme Park in Petaling Jaya were witness to the flaws in this argument. Fifteen years on, the Backstreet Boys are still pretty, can still dance and showed that they indeed can sing.

In fact, the four members – Brian Littrell, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough and Nick Carter – proved to be complete entertainers if the shrieks of approval from the 10,000-strong crowd were anything to go by. The crowd was diverse – with children as young as seven years old and adults in their 40s – bopping to the music.

Thunder and rain had threatened to spoil the party but that did not deter the crowd from streaming into the venue more than an hour before the scheduled showtime. The band only appeared at 8.45pm, but the crowd was all hyped up long before that. Every time a Backstreet Boys song filled the air, they would go wild.

But it was when the stagehands walked on stage to remove a black curtain that the screams became deafening. The drape had hidden four figures, dressed in shiny boxers’ robes, from view. Yes, the Backstreet Boys were in town and they were ready to party.

As each member was introduced by a pre-recorded announcement, he would start shuffling around in place, not unlike boxers gearing themselves up for a fight. And when they turned around ... let’s just say that only dogs could hear the high-pitched screams that emitted from the crowd.

Apart from the robes, the costume changes ranged from sleek suits and ties to casual street wear. But it was when they put on Fedora hats for As Long As You Love Me midway through the show that they garnered the loudest and most rapturous ovation.

The hat became iconic to the band back in 1997 in their music video for the said song. In fact, it is such a trademark that there were several groups of audiences who were wearing similar hats. Yes, the Backstreet Boys made the Fedora cool before anyone even knew who Kevin Federline was.

The costumes were only one way the band entertained that night. Although there were no special effects, it was clear that the Backstreet Boys had stolen the hearts of many fans as the crowd’s attention never faltered for a second through the 1?-hour performance.

Case in point was at the end of the song Treat Me Right, when the ring of a cellphone suddenly filled the air. Everyone turned to check their own phone, only to realise the sound had come from some audio console somewhere, and that even the four gentlemen on stage had pulled out their own phones, ready for the song The Call.

For Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely, the Boys just sat at a table and sang the whole song while playing poker and having a glass of “wine”. They didn’t even need to move to hold the attention of the crowd.

The Backstreet Boys were known, in their heyday, for their sleek dance moves – all choreographed, of course – and this was still very much part of their performance, despite the fact that most of the band members (save for the 28-year-old Nick Carter) are in their 30s.

“This one is for you,” McLean shouted to the crowd during their rendition of Backstreet’s Back, the last song for the night as they reenacted the dance moves from the song’s 1996 music video in which they all played monsters of some sort.

The Backstreet Boys delivered one hit after another from their six studio albums recorded during their 15-year-career and one thing was obvious – times may have changed but people’s taste never do. The teens and 20-somethings sang along to the songs alongside those in their 30s and beyond, although the Backstreet Boys’ first few albums were released at a time when the younger crowd were still dancing along to Barney.

The band performed almost 30 songs including one solo from each member. Dorough gave fans a taste of what his upcoming debut album would sound like during She’s Like The Sun, possibly the best solo rendition of the night. The song has a jazzy salsa flavour to it, probably a nod to the singer’s Latin roots, and he came across as a new-aged Marc Antony.

McLean added a touch of rock to the show with his solo Drive By Love while Carter’s I Got You and Littrell’s Welcome Home were familiar songs as these two had previously released solo albums.

The Backstreet Boys were performing in Malaysia as a quartet for the first time as member Kevin Richardson left the group last year. They were last in Malaysia to perform at the Force of Nature Tsunami Relief Concert in 2005.

The Star was the official newspaper for the Kuala Lumpur leg of the Backstreet Boys Unbreakable world tour.

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