Monday, September 09, 2013

Backstreet Boys delight fans in Irvine

My review originally appeared on The Orange County Register site on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. A special "thank you" to Kelly A. Swift for the use of her photographs.

Backstreet Boys delight fans in Irvine

Original lineup of the vocal group impresses with sharp versions of old and new hits.

Backstreet Boys
As part of their 20th anniversary celebration, enduringly popular Backstreet Boys brought their In a World Like This tour to Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, where Friday night (Sept. 6, 2013) the quintet performed songs from its new album of the same name as well as their biggest smashes, plus teased bits of their forthcoming documentary.
Next at Verizon: Uproar Festival featuring Jane's Addiction, Alice in Chains and more, Sept. 13, $19-$109; Rascal Flatts with the Band Perry, Sept. 14, $20.50-$100.50; Funny or Die's Oddball Fest featuring Dave Chappelle, Flight of the Conchords and more, Sept. 15, $24-$89.50; Epicenter featuring the Offspring, Bad Religion, Pennywise and more, Sept. 21, $25-$99.50
Call: 800-745-3000
As the world's best-selling boy band, reportedly selling 130 million records since 1996, the Orlando natives proved they’re still a hit with the mostly female crowd, eliciting screams with choreographed moves alongside mostly spot-on singing that genuinely impressed.
Not only does this latest outing commemorate the harmony group’s two-decade marker, but In a World Like Thisonce again features all five original members (Kevin Richardson had left the group in 2006) and actually garnered more critical acclaim than earlier efforts. Friday night, BSB – also including A.J. McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter and Brian Littrell – delivered many of that disc's best songs while effectively combating criticism from boy-band-bashers who think they’re just fluff by occasionally accompanying themselves on acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards and percussion.
Dressed in white suits, the group opened its two-hour set with an energetic version of "The Call,” immediately showing off slick moves. The stage design, consisting of a multi-tiered platform and a giant rear-projection screen, was effectively used throughout the night as part of dance sequences, even seating a number of fans during an acoustic section late in the show.
Nick Carter
The Backstreeters’ harmonies, however, were the sonic glue that held together their mix of R&B, dance, electronica and folk ballads. While syrupy ballads like "Incomplete" and "I'll Never Break Your Heart Again" appealed mostly to the female faithful, more inspired selections – the up-tempo new cut "Permanent Skin,” early single "We've Got It Goin' On" – were more widely entertaining. And though there was an inevitable sameness to BSB’s lush pop, their vocal blend on standouts like "As Long As You Love Me" was striking.
Most impressive was the group's current material, especially the tuneful, rock-tinged "Show 'Em (What You're Made Of)," the dynamic "Breathe" and acoustic piece "Madeleine,” a heartfelt plea against online bullying. During their acoustic set, BSB were not only joined by several dozen fans on stage, but local artist Robert Wyland was introduced to paint two humpback whales while the group performed.
A few minutes later, fans in the near-capacity venue couldn't stop singing along with one of the quintet’s signature singles, "I Want It That Way," which closed the regular set. A 10-minute encore included another clear audience favorite, the heavy R&B/dance tune "Everybody," as well as the more electronic-fueled "Larger Than Life."
Disappointingly opening for BSB was Jesse McCartney. The 26-year-old singer-songwriter and actor was backed by a sturdy three-man band and aided by two energetic male dancers, but their chops and crowd-pleasing moves couldn't disguise the weak material and lack of emotion in McCartney's tenor throughout a 40-minute stint. Even his final tune, the 2004 hit "Beautiful Soul," revealed his limitations. But, to be fair, plenty of screaming girls obviously thought he was fantastic.
DJ Pauly D kicked off the long night while it was still sweltering outside, yet he managed to get a few early birds on their feet with his mixed, mashed and enhanced versions of modern pop and dance hits, plus a few rock classics from Journey and Joan Jett.
Photos: Kelly A. Swift

Orange County Register subscribers can see my original post and Kelly A. Swift's complete photo slide show here.

No comments: