Backstreet Boys/ Shaggy / Krystal : Atlanta Philips Arena

They may have downsized their tour but the Backstreets still know how to put on a show...

Who knew, when the Backstreet

Boys released their last album, ‘Black and Blue’, that the title

would be such a good diagnosis of the outcome of the boy bands war? Because black and blue

is how *N Sync have beaten the Backstreet


Indeed, the Boys

felt the sting enough to downgrade the current leg of their ‘Black and Blue’

tour from stadiums to arenas, to “get closer to the fans”. But Philips

Arena isn’t even full as the first opening act, Krystal, takes the stage.

Basically Pink with a piano, Krystal bangs out her tunes, including a cover

of the Jackson 5‘s, sorry, Mariah Carey‘s ‘I’ll Be

There,’ in Joan Jett-inspired all black.

Shortly afterwards we find Shaggy along with his

band, back up and booty-dancers. There’s something sickly satisfying about

leather-clad ‘Mr Luvah-Luvah’ swiveling his hips for 15-year-old girls too

young to remember his first hits.

But the crowd knows and enjoys Shaggy‘s

current hit, ‘Angel,’ as well as ‘It Wasn’t Me’ and

the Michael

Jackson-sampling closer ‘Dance and Shout.’

Finally, after a thinly disguised, manipulative live commercial for the tour’s

sponsors Pop Tarts and Polaroid, the real dancing and shouting begins. As the lights go

down on the set, like the bow of a futuristic pirate ship, video and fireworks depict

Earth exploding. And the din of high-pitched pre-pubescent screams for the next hour is

ear-exploding, if not Earth-shattering.

Along with a full band and nine dancers, the older, wiser Backstreet

Boys give thanks and enthusiastically travel their entire songbook, as well

as the length of the arena, performing briefly on a small round platform opposite the

stage, and even on a metal bridge lowered from the ceiling to get them back across the

floor seats as they catch tossed teddy bears.

So, the Backstreet

Boys may not still have as many fans as *N Sync,

but the Boys

are certainly still in sync with the ones they have.

Tony Ware