03 April 2014 (gig)
08 April 2014
It's always difficult for a pop fanatic to write an unbias live review of the world's best selling boyband as, well let's face it, hot men and nostalgic tunes, and we're easily pleased. However, torsos aside (as hard as that may be) in an industry where a swarm of underrated backing dancers, barely-there wardrobes, the overuse of stage props, and let's not forget, riding astride giant fastfood produce, make up the wow factors in most best selling concerts, it is almost unheard of to attend a Pop concert where the music and talent of the artist alone makes the show, not only highly entertaining, but damn right credible.
Taking to the stage at Glasgow's revamped arena - The SSE Hydro - as part of the UK leg of their current world tour, The Backstreet Boys not only delivered such a performance, but mananged to do what many blast-from-the-past Pop groups have failed to, and that's put on a show that was not only as good as they achieved two decades ago, but possibly even better.
In support of their eighth studio album 'In A World Like This', Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McClean, and the newly returned Kevin Richardson, proved that talent, hard work, and a passion for their art, is the true key to longevity. Having racked up over 20-years in the business, it would have been easy to churn out old classics, throw in a few sluggish dance moves, and rely on a loyal fanbase to get them through the show (support act All Saints missed the memo), however, this was not the case. Simple staging, a few big screens and a whole lot of talent (and humour) made The Backstreet Boys show, one of their best.
The two hour performance kicked off with 2001's 'The Call' and was followed by the rarely performed, though esquiste homage to the Dance/Pop beats of 1999, 'Don't Want You Back' - a nice surprise for diehard BSB fans. Harmonies on point and dance moves as slick and as energetic as ever, the five guys strutted through singles from their current album, as well as top selling hits like 'As Long As You Love Me' and 'All I Have To Give'; with a spectacularly enthusiastic rendition of their first ever UK single 'We've Got It Going On' (official dance moves included), by this point the ear ringing screams were defening.
In standard boyband procedure, the uptempo section was followed by a ballad section, which kicked off with a signature Backstreet Boys move, singing in acapella. The song of choice was 'Safest Place To Hide', from the 2005 album 'Never Gone'. It. Was. Vocal. Perfection! Not to play the boyband card too close to home, the boys ditched the usual suits and stools in exchange for semi-acoustic instruments, proving once and for all that they're not only pretty faces with silky smooth voices, but the boys can play a plathora of instruments too; Howie joking that "we thought we'd learn how to play because our dance moves won't be so great in 20-to-30 years time". With the boys playing guitars, bass, piano, and box drum, and surrounded by some lucky VIP fans, the on-stage spectacle swayed into a blissful evening soiree of mid-tempo hits including their first UK number one single, 'Quit Playing Games'.
Wrapping up a show, that frankly speaking, could have been double the length of time and nobody would have batted an eyelid, was title track 'In A World Like This', the universally adored 'I Want It That Way', and fan favourite 'Everybody (Backstreet's Back), with an encore of 'Larger Than Life'. I know I wasn't the only one disappointed when the house lights swiftly brought the fan-demonium back to reality...it was 11:00PM on a Thursday night, and most of us had work the next day.
It's hard to pin-point what makes a legitimately great Pop concert these days, as there always seems to be something missing. It's either too much performance and shabby vocals, dull stage presence, but a sturdy vocal performance, or in All Saints' case, being lacklustre all round, with a heavy reliance on previously chart topping tracks to win the crowd over. In other words, it was rare to find truly timeless talent in the 90s, and it still is now; The Backstreet Boys are seemingly one of the exceptions.
Whether it's their beat perfect dance moves, ludicrously lucious vocal harmonies, or simply the personality and charm to not only keep loyal fans enthused, but also make new ones; "I hardly knew any of the songs, but they were bloody amazing" shouted one 40-something into my still buzzing ear, The Backstreet Boys are reason enough to still have faith in Pop music.
Long after the teenage tearaways of Pop stardom today have tumbled from their hormonally overloaded, sex driven, drug fuelled Pop pedastals, artists like The Backstreet Boys will still be bringing their kids on stage to show off to adoring fans, keeping us entertained with comical interludes, and more than anything, being masters of what they do. In 1997 they sung "as long as they'll be music we'll be coming back again", and do you know what? We believe them.
'In A World Like This' is out now!