Review By: Mandy Moe Pwint Tu
Image Credit: Perth Arena Facebook
Whenever I mention Backstreet Boys to anyone, their first reaction is, ‘Wait, didn’t they break up?’ And I don’t blame them for asking this question; after all, Nsync broke up, Westlife broke up (I’m still not over this), and even One Direction’s going through a fairly rough patch owing to Zayn Malik’s departure. It seems that it is the fate of boybands to have a few good years, then either have one member leave to pursue other interests or split up permanently. But the thing about Backstreet Boys is that they seem to be the boyband determined to defy all odds.
The group consistsof AJ McLean (resident bad boy), Nick I-can-make-every-girl-in-the-world-swoon-over-me-just-by-looking-at-them Carter, Brian Littrell (or someone I tend to refer to as the Shane Filan of the group), Kevin Richardson (moustachio), and Howie Dorough (my favourite member mainly because he looks like he needs a bit more love). They rose to stardom with their debut album Backstreet Boys in 1996, and continued to release Backstreet’s Back, Millenium (which catapulted them to superstardom), Black and Blue, and Never Gone. It was after the Never Gone tour that Kevin Richardson decided to leave the band to pursue other interests. However, two albums later, in 2012, the group announced that Richardson had rejoined the group, which led to their 20th anniversary album, In a World Like This.
Their In a World Like This tour kicked off in 2013. They ended their Australian tour in Perth on the 15th of May, 2015.
Truth be told, I’m a bigger Westlife fan than I am a Backstreet Boys fan. I’ve seen all the DVDs of Westlife’s concerts; I have all their albums and am currently preoccupied in following the solo careers of Shane Filan and Mark Feehily. In fact, I doubt that I’d have started listening to Backstreet Boys had I not been already emotionally invested in Westlife. As it was, I bought one of their DVDs, and one of their albums, and looked up a bunch of their music videos as my brother and I came to like their music (while making fun of their ridiculous outfits especially in Everybody and cringing at their grammatically incorrect lyrics [cough, I’ll Never Break Your Heart, cough]).
That also meant that when Westlife split up and BSB kept going, I was furious but also kind of grateful that my entire childhood hadn’t been stamped on and crushed into a million tiny pieces.
The Backstreet Boys concert was a cracker.
Before they came on at 8:30, there was a bit of to-do with the lights, which kept dimming and then coming up, causing the audience to first scream excitedly and then look around at one another in blatant confusion. I of course just said: ‘Quit playing games with my heart.’
The lights finally properly dimmed, and the screen stage flickered to life, streaming red, as the familiar faces of the vocal harmony group showed onscreen—and then they were out, fully decked in blue suits, onstage, singing the first few notes of Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), before plunging into The Call—and from then on, they had the audience in the palm of their hands.
Boybands generally have rules for their stage shows. The first one is that every member, when addressing the audience, has to open with a variation of “Hello (name of city), how’s everybody feeling tonight? You having fun?”
Every single BSB member asked this question.
And every time, the audience screamed their ‘yes’.
The second rule is: incorporate the name of the city you’re performing at into one of your songs. Perth was mentioned in ‘As Long As You Love Me’.
The third rule is: have an acapella section where you bring a few audience members onto the stage while you sit and play instruments and sing soft ballads.
Other rules include: read and acknowledge banners. Do a bit of pointing at the camera so it appears on the big screen as if you’re pointing at the audience. And basically, keep the audience cheering and singing along.
The boys—well, gentlemen—played a number of their greatest hits, including As Long As You Love Me, I Want It That Way and We’ve Got It Going On, interspersed with songs from their new album In a World Like This. I haven’t heard any of their songs from that album, but after hearing them perform, I’ve half a mind to go out and get the album. My favourite part was hearing the audience sing their songs right back at them; twenty two years of Backstreet Boys, and the audience members were just so familiar with the lyrics. It was truly a wonder to behold.
It did feel like we were “partying like it’s 1999”, as Kevin assured us we should—although, to be fair, I would’ve been four years old in 1999. In saying that, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were still touring twenty two years down the line, telling us to “party like it’s 2015”. It was indeed a reversion to a time gone by, maybe not a simpler time, but a time with fond memories, of younger and cheesier days.
They closed with Larger than Life, a song for the fans, as it were.
There’s a lyric from their song Everybody (Backstreet’s Back): “As long as there is music, we’ll be coming back again.” The Backstreet Boys are the best-selling boyband in history. They lost a member but got him back. They’re twenty two years down the line and are showing no signs of stopping. Hell, they’ve got a documentary movie, Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made of coming out soon!
Well, everybody, I don’t think you’ve got much choice but to “jam on cos Backstreet’s got it”. They’ve got it going on for years, and they look like they might continue to have it going on for a long time yet.