By: Duncan Boyd -
Pop superstars Backstreet Boys, who are currently promoting their eighth studio album, In A World Like This, and celebrating their 20th anniversary together, packed the Molson Ampitheatre in Toronto last night with waves of screaming girls, as if it had time warped back to 1999. Yet now, the screaming tweens of the decade before have grown into screaming twenty-somethings, abandoning all concern for the composure that comes with adulthood to simply let loose with thousands of other like-minded viewers steeped in ecstatic nostalgia.
Opening the show was Jersey Shore star-turned-DJ Pauly D, and if you averted your eyes from his signature “blowout” haircut, he spun mostly top 40 hits as bros fist-bumping and hair product engulfed the crowd.
Fellow opening act Jesse McCartney, who will release his fourth studio album, Have It All, sometime this year, crooned through a performance that featured tracks from his most recent album, 2008’s Departure, including “Leavin”, and “How Do You Sleep”. Donning a smart, blue tuxedo jacket with a slim black tie and trousers with ultra-thin suspenders and Wayfarer-style shades, an elaborate backing band including a guitarist and several similarly-dressed dancers joined McCartney on stage and he topped off his set with his mega hit “Beautiful Soul” to a roaring crowd.
As the lingering scent of ‘90s nostalgia swept through the amphitheatre, A. J. McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, and Brian Littrell of Backstreet Boys appeared on stage to an adoring crowd. Throughout the show, the quartet shifted between their new material like “In A World Like This”, “Permanent Strain” and “Breathe”, which takes on the pop/adult contemporary/dance hybrid style that they’ve perfected, and placed it against a backdrop of a group who has grown up, from their new album, In A World Like This, which they released on July 30th as their first-ever independent album, and their older smash hits including “As Long As You Love Me”, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” and “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)”. They were eager to show off their new material, which they wrote themselves, yet, also aware that the crowd anticipated their older hits. Though every song they played was met with incessant screaming, when it came to the new material, the crowd was less enthusiastic.
During a two-minute wardrobe intermission, they played a video of the band on the ampitheatre’s video screens, which showed the boys answering questions like “Who’s the silly one?” and “Who’s the sexiest?” It was as though the screams were not meant to stop even for a two-minute break, as the crowd continued to roar despite the stage being empty. In between songs, all any member had to do to make the place erupt was walk to the front of the stage and say the word “Toronto”.
Now being 20 years into their career, you must hand it to the Backstreet Boys for lasting this long. In that span of time, dozens of similar groups have come and gone (think ☆NSYNC and Westlife) and with a new wave of boy bands upon us with One Direction, Big Time Rush and The Wanted, Backstreet Boys have since become the elder statesmen of the pop world, which they have slid into gracefully.
At one point during the show, Kevin Richardson, who for this is his first tour and album since 2006, announced that they were going to “party like its 1999.” And indeed, everyone did.