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
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.