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    Boys still pack pop vocal punch

    Gianna S.
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    Boys still pack pop vocal punch

    Post by Gianna S. on Mon 10 Nov 2008, 2:47 pm

    Boys still pack pop vocal punch

    Sun, November 9, 2008


    The Backstreet Boys (Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough and
    A.J. McLean) hit the stage in London on the Canadian leg of their
    Unbreakable tour. (SUSAN BRADNAM, Sun Media)
    First, they played around at being lords of the ring.
    Later, they delivered the one-two knockout punch.
    Former teen-pop sensations the Backstreet Boys had the gloves on at the
    John Labatt Centre last night, earning the screams of 5,200 fans by
    hitting the stage in boxing attire, complete with silky robes and
    leathery mitts. The knockout arrived at the end of the
    100-minute, hardworking show with a thunderous Everybody (Backstreet's
    Back) -- the band's one true classic -- as the main set finale. A sweet
    encore with a visit to Shape of My Heart produced quieter, but still
    pretty deafening screams. BSB is now the foursome of Brian Littrell,
    Howie Dorough, Nick Carter and A.J. McLean after Littrell's cousin,
    Kevin Richardson, bowed out in 2006. A little older and a little
    slower, those four still pack a pop vocal punch. They can still move
    around the stage, even if their choreography was smoother when they
    were the prototype boy band.

    "They told us London was crazy," one of the Boys shouted early in the
    show. "It's because of you we have been together for 15 years." One of the best signs of the night claimed
    simply, "Fan since '96." Many of the other fans were young females who
    missed BSB's glory days in the 1990s, and made up for it by screaming
    and standing before the curtain slipped away and their heroes appeared.
    The Boys opened with Larger than Life, while working their routines in
    a faux ring that seemed to have feathery boas for ropes and maybe Kanye
    West for inspiration. The song provided the cue for another good
    sign -- "I hear you're larger than life." The Boys pretended to knock
    each other out near the end of the song, which only provoked the
    biggest bout of screaming to that point. Hit singles like Quit Playing Games (With My
    Heart), Larger Than Life and I Want It That Way -- which produced the
    first mass singalong of the night -- made the Boys huge stars. Their
    choreography and stagework helped. The boxing gear and the ring disappeared in
    time for the second number, when the Boys were in more familiar garb --
    slick sports coats and stylish jackets with T-shirts peeping out. A
    Black Sabbath logo or two could be seen, meaning the fans were in for
    some wilder looks and a lot of Smet label wear later in the night. The boys changed costumes almost as often as
    Cher and Gwen Stefani, co-holders of the biggest wardrobe award for a
    John Labatt Centre gig. Littrell was the first Boy to be introduced
    in the boxing ring. For the record, McLean's fake boxing nickname is
    "The Jizzle'' and he was the only to sport an ascot. Carter had a
    bowtie and spent a lot of time adjusting his metal belt. For the record, there was considerable
    butt-wiggling and promises of "juicy kisses" for "all the sexy ladies."
    The fans made sure the butt-wiggling never got old. The kisses were
    delivered as the Boys brushed up against the fans near the stage,
    mostly of the air smooch landing on a cheek category. The cherub who was on stage for the finale
    was apparently Littrell's son. He already has mastered his dad's
    ability to wave ever so nicely. All four Boys had solo spots. Littrell's was
    a ballad called Welcome Home, which tied in with a video saluting U.S.
    armed forces and their loved ones. Dorough had a slow, Latin-style number. Carter rolled around the stage during his solo.
    McLean, the closet rocker in BSB, arrived for his solo flight by
    tearing across the stage. He blasted through Drive By Love, confirming
    that the fans were ready and willing to rock along with him. Except for McLean's blitzing number, the solo spots tended to show why the Boys haven't shone as solo stars.
    There is another reason they're still together. The Backstreet Boys
    have battled through many real-life woes. A Sun Media survey details
    the most serious ones: Littrell was nearly sidelined by heart
    complications in 1998, Dorough lost his sister to lupus the same year,
    and McLean went public with drug and alcohol addictions in 2003. Less tragically, Carter dated Paris Hilton,
    was charged with drunk driving and appeared in a short-lived reality
    show with his constantly squabbling siblings. He also has the
    misfortune to be related that odious little pest of a brother, Aaron
    Carter, unfondly remembered by this critic for staging a terrible
    concert at the Western Fair a few years back. What makes Nick Carter and his pals in the
    Boys so much better than that? They sing better as a group than almost
    any other boy band, old or young (the R and B-flavoured acts are in a
    different class, but let's compare apples with apples here). With a set
    list including Inconsolable, Incomplete and I'll Be the One, they have
    a lock on anything with an "I." The Boys also have a sense of humour about
    their place in the pop universe after all these years. When it came
    time for the band introductions, the fine guitarist went into the riff
    from Michael Jackson's Beat It. McLean took the cue for a little
    moonwalk. It was a nod, not a jab. Canadian R and B star Divine Brown opened. "We need more energy here," Brown said at one point.
    Last night, the Backstreet Boys and their boisterous fans knew where to find it.



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