It’s easy to stereotype the former teen idol dance band members that surged into adulthood looking more like kindergartners dancing in size-10 shoes rather than relevant, skilled adult musicians and entertainers.
But after Friday’s nearly sold-out show at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, it was hard to argue they busted that mold and that Backstreet was back, alright.
The boys-to-men heartthrob BSBs rocked, bopped and charmed their ways back into the hearts of more than 10.000 mostly late-20-, early-30-something women, most who were children or teens when the boys first stormed the charts in 1996.
Bouncing on a solid bed of chart toppers, the Backstreet Boys — A. J. McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell – also tucked in new tunes from their July release, “In A World Like This,” the name of the current tour.
Following openers DJ Pauly D. and pop-rocker Jesse McCartney, the BSBs opened their show with a shortened version of their 1997 hit “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back). Under a canopy of multi-colored lights, the boys marched with military precision before bursting into “The Call” from their third album, 2000’s “Black & Blue.”
In front of the band, the gathering of former ga-ga-teens-now-ogling-adults seemed to have been transported back 13 years as they soaked in every nuance of the BSB’s immaculately choreographed dance routines. The 22-song, almost two-hour set evenly spaced the classics with the newbies such as “Permanent Stain”; the solemn “Breathe,” featuring McLean singing from a stage about 30 yards into the audience; “10,000 Promises,” when the BSB’s showed off their a capella skills and musical chops playing acoustic guitars and piano; and the folksy “Madeleine” – all of which had the crowd singing along.
But it was the tried-and-true hits of yesteryear such as “As Long As You Love Me,” “Everybody” and the “Millennium” album’s “I Want It That Way” that seemed to generate the most fanatical reactions.
Between two video segments on large screens behind the bands that featured the BSBs talking about each other’s idiosyncrasies and a preview of their upcoming autobiographical movie, the lads chatted with their fans and heaped fond praise on Tampa, before launching into “Incomplete.”
“Tampa, that last song meant more to me than any others might because without my hometown, I’d be incomplete,” said former Ruskin resident Nick Carter, standing among the crowd.
The Backstreet Boys didn’t rely on too many unusual props or effect gimmicks to woo their audience, but relied on their synchronized dance moves, none of which showed any of the wear and tear of age. The choreographed routines were as sharp as they’ve ever been and their harmonies melded as succinctly as they did in their more youthful years.
After whipping the crowd into a deafening roar, the Boys finished their show with the chart-toppers “I Want It That Way” and the entire “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” before concluding the night under a giant spray of dry ice fog with “Larger Than Life” from “Millennium.”
Before the show, many speculated whether the former boy band could pull it off, come back again – and again? The answer by the end of the evening, as the crowd sang, danced and swayed was “yes” – the Backstreet Boys were back.