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Live Review: Backstreet Boys – 9th May 2015 – Allphones Arena, Sydney, Australia

7 min read

Perhaps I am a little biased when I say that pop music was at its finest in the 90’s. As a teen during the decade I found myself surrounded by the rise of the boyband and girlband and so it was not unusual for me to be sucked into the world of top selling pop acts like the Spice Girls, 5ive, All Saints and Destiny’s Child. While all of those acts have since disbanded, one group has continued to deliver consistent releases ever since their formation over 20 years ago – the Backstreet Boys.

Having made their mark in the 90’s with some of the genres biggest selling albums like their self-titled debut, their sophomore effort Backstreets Back and the 30 million selling juggernaut that is 1999’s Millennium, they certainly have quite a weighty repertoire to continue their reign as one of the most successful acts in music and while the age of the boyband may have wiltered by the end of the 90’s, the Backstreet Boys have proven that they are not limited by a musical era.

The band have been on the road now for a good couple of years since 5th member Kevin Richardson returned to the fold in 2012 after 6 years away from the bright and shining lights of the pop world and the Backstreet Boys. With the five-some taking in cities all over the globe over these past couple of years with the groups In A World Like This Tour tour proving a popular stint in an already lucrative career on the international live circuit, the tours latest leg sees the lads on Australian soil and we went along to catch the group as they brought all their hits and more to fans at Allphones Arena in Sydney last night.

Having sold well over 130 million records over the last 20 years, the band were certainly not going to be cheap with their latest tour and that was shown in every aspect of the performance last night; from the spectacular stage design and the groups outfits to the eye-catching visuals and light display that accompanied the five-some as they performed hits from their chart-topping catalogue including I Want It That Way, As Long As You Love Me and full throttle closer, Larger Than Life.

The stage design was effective with huge screens cast at the back and to the sides with a descending stairway leading onto the stage. High price ticket holders got up close with the band with seats between the main stage and T shaped platform which stretched into the audience.

With Kevin now back in the band, the Backstreet Boys seemed complete once again and while Kevin didn’t provide lead vocals on the bands tracks as much as band members Nick Carter, Brian Littrell and AJ did last night, his presence really made it feel much more complete than when we last seen the group during their joint tour with fellow boy band superstars, New Kids On The Block back in 2012.

Fans certainly got their money’s worth last night with the show exceeding the 2 hour mark but we wouldn’t expect anything less to be honest – not with the number of hits that the band have churned out over such a lucrative pop career. While the audience, which was made up predominantly of 30-40 year old female concert-goers, were able to give their lungs a thorough workout as they sang along and got up on their feet with the collective for numbers like the storming opener The Call, signature single Everybody (Backstreets Back), with is famous Thriller-esque choreography and closing hit Larger Than Life, they were also able to catch their breath and swoon over the group as the musicians delivered impressive and sentimental renditions of notable power ballads like The One, Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely and The Shape Of My Heart.

While the band are most famous for the dance routines and vocal numbers which were certainly plentiful during last night’s performance, the group also showed that they were more than capable of supplying the instrumentation to their iconic pop tracks and this was first seen with Nick on guitar and Kevin on keyboard during an early performance of Incomplete. Even the hardest looking men in the crowd were moving along with the group and were sporting Backstreet Boys t-shirts or caps which made me wonder that perhaps it’s not always the girlfriends who are the ones dragging their partners to pop shows but the other way around. In any case, everyone was getting involved and having the best time possible.

A stripped back acoustic section was interjected into the middle of the set and this allowed the lads to take a seat with some guitars and a keyboard to play out some of their most famous numbers. With a couple dozen lucky fans being guided onto the stage to sit behind the boyband as they played, they started with a brief instrumental nod to I Want It That Way, which the band teased as not making an appearance on the latest tour, followed by Drowning and 10,000 Promises. As the rest of the band encouraged Howie to show off his Latino dance moves to the screaming crowd the section was capped off with spectacular performances of new album slow-jam Madeleine and early career classic, Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) which added further 90’s nostalgia to the set.

Between songs the band were very attentive to their fans and often took to the crowd for close encounters with their female admirers in the front rows. Each member shone individually at various points of the show with stories of their journey or to deliver appreciative words to their fans. They also delighted the crowd with news of a new album being in the works and promised to return to Australia on their next world tour and encouraged fans to go crazy during the show with band member Nick Carter explaining that there were 3 rules to attending a Backstreet Boys show – 1. What happens at a Backstreet Boys concert stays at a Backstreet Boys concert, 2. go crazy and 3. that everyone needs to act like they are 15 years old again.

The set was filled with not just the songs that have made the Backstreet Boys the phenomenon that they have become over the past 22 years but also the original dance routines as well. The nostalgia ran thick with the group’s performance of tracks like Everybody (Backstreets Back), As Long As You Love Me, which had the group dressed in 90’s attire, and All I Have To Give which came complete with a memorable Smooth Criminal style hat routine. The early career hits were also met with the loudest applause, particularly career notables like I Want It That Way, Larger Than Life and one of my personal favourites, We’ve Got It Goin’ On which was released as the group’s first single way back in 1995 as Kevin pointed out. While the early numbers were the obvious standouts of the night, inclusions from the band’s latest In A World Like This release including the album’s title track and the AJ and Kevin penned Show ‘Em (What You’re Made Of) shone during the lengthy set.

There will also be a place for groups like the Backstreet Boys and despite their peak years ending a number of years back, they will always retain a hugely eager fan-base who are ready to see these guys do what they do the best and to hear their exceptional repertoire time and time again. They still have it in them to be doing the rounds for many years to come and are can still cut some impressive moves and sound pretty impressive as individuals and as a solid unit. We certainly hope that it won’t be too long before the band hit the road again because we will be doing our best to be front row with our 90’s outfits ready to be worked into a sweat once again.

Setlist:
The Call
Don’t Want You Back
Incomplete
Permanent Stain
All I Have To Give
As Long as You Love Me
Show ‘Em (What You’re Made Of)
Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely
Breathe
I’ll Never Break Your Heart
We’ve Got It Going On
I Want It That Way (instrumental)
Drowning
10,000 Promises
Madeleine
Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)
The One
Love Somebody
Shape of My Heart
In A World Like This
I Want It That Way

Encore:
Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)
Larger Than Life