Backstreet Boys get lots of nostalgic love for their singing and dancing

Backstreet Boys (comprising from left, Nick Carter, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough and Kevin Richardson) charmed fans with familiar songs and dance routines.
Backstreet Boys (comprising from left, Nick Carter, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough and Kevin Richardson) charmed fans with familiar songs and dance routines.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

The Backstreet Boys, who last performed in Singapore in 2015 to a much smaller crowd, show they still have the moves and vocal chops



National Stadium/Last Saturday

The Backstreet Boys' coordinated outfits, cheesy choreography and banter might have been straight out of the 1990s and early 2000s, but there was still plenty of love in Singapore for the five-man band last Saturday night at their Larger Than Life concert at the National Stadium.

It was an unadulterated nostalgia trip down Greatest Hits lane for the 20,000 fans - mostly young men and women who grew up with the band - throughout the 90-minute set.

Fresh off a residency in Las Vegas, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell were like a well-oiled machine for the most part, frequently drawing on the same choreography from the music videos of songs such as concert-opener Larger Than Life and We've Got It Goin' On.

On As Long As You Love Me, for instance, there was even the famous chair dance routine straight out of the 1997 video clip, eliciting plenty of fangirl screams.

Their show in Singapore was the only Asian stop for the American group, which remain one of the best-selling boybands of all time.

When McLean announced that the group were working on a new album, screams promptly erupted, but it was clear that everyone was there for the classics.

And thankfully, save for a funk version of Get Down (You're The One For Me), they mostly kept to the original song arrangements.

The Vegas glamour was definitely present in the sharp, sequinned jackets the group donned during slower ballads such as Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely and I'll Never Break Your Heart.

Ever the charmers, they dedicated the latter to "all the beautiful ladies" and proceeded to deliver silky harmonies on the 1997 classic.

The routines came complete with melodramatic hand sweeps and caressing of the microphone stands.

Compared with their 1990s rivals 'NSync, Backstreet Boys were always better known for their vocals - and they were on full display, dripping with emotion on slower numbers such as Incomplete and More Than That.

That said, the group always sounded better as a unit than individually, with Littrell visibly straining to reach some of the higher notes. Even the inconsistent sound quality at the National Stadium could not hide that.

And the punishing heat of Singapore meant plenty of unglamorous sweat from the group - whose members are mostly in their late 30s and early 40s - and they ended up slowing down on some of their dance routines.

It was especially obvious as they were backed by a troupe of much younger dancers, who provided dance breaks to electronic dance music versions of their songs whenever there were costume changes.

Thankfully, it seemed like the men were saving their energy for the last two big numbers - crowd favourites I Want It That Way and an encore of Everybody.

Fans stood on their chairs to get a better look at the band busting out the famous zombie dance routine from Everybody.

In his introduction at the start of the show, McLean mentioned how happy the group were to be back since their last show here at the Formula One Grand Prix in 2009.

In fact, the band were last here in 2015 for a sold-out gig at The Star Theatre - a much more intimate affair with 5,000 in attendance.

Maybe it was the jetlag talking as the band apparently took three flights and 27 hours to get to Singapore, according to McLean's Instagram stories earlier that day.

That aside, the quintet still have the moves, the swagger and, most importantly, the vocal chops to pull off an enjoyable nostalgia fest.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2017, with the headline 'Backstreet's back, all right'. Print Edition | Subscribe