SINGAPORE: Backstreet’s back (in Singapore), alright! The best-selling boy band in history was in town on Saturday (Oct 21) for a one-night-only gig - the only stop in Asia for their Larger Than Life tour. And boy did they come prepared to give their 20,000 fans who packed the National Stadium exactly what they relentlessly screamed all night for.
The screaming, courtesy of mostly women aged between 25 and 40, started even before the house lights went down, during a video medley of the hits primed to warm up the crowd.
But once AJ McLean, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson emerged from smoke to launch directly into Larger Than Life, the shrieks roared to a level high and never once let up the entire night.
It didn’t matter that the uneven sound quality at the National Stadium failed the boys’ live vocals sporadically throughout the 90 minute set. Or that McLean incorrectly remembered the last Backstreet Boys (BSB) show in Singapore to be during the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix instead of their 2015’s soldout concert at the Star Performing Arts Centre.
They were hiccups Singapore’s diehard BSB fans were happy to overlook. The fangirls (and occasional boy) were out in full unapologetic force and ready to relive our nostalgic pasts of frenzied boyband fandom, 90s cheesy pop and first teen crushes.
Yes, we want it that way. And we got it in spades.
Whether it’s busting out all the synchronised dance moves during Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) and We've Got It Goin’ On or perfecting those cheeseball hand gestures for Shape Of My Heart and I’ll Never Break Your Heart, BSB were nailing song after song.
It was clear they could still hit the notes and harmonies (despite the stadium’s erratic sound system), which should hold them well when they return to their Las Vegas residency next month.
And like a true boy-turned-man band worthy of the crown, all their classic hits and chart-topping ballads were dutifully delivered. From Drowning and Incomplete to Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely and The One, every heartfelt lyric was sung with a corresponding classic boyband move positioned perfectly to heighten the emotional gush.
In shiny diamante jackets and black pants (one of a few strategic outfit changes), the boys also got to do their own swoon-worthy version of The Temptations or The Four Seasons. And by the time As Long As You Love Me was performed with that famous folding-chair dance sequence straight out of their own 1997 music video, shrieking fangirls were beside themselves.
And why wouldn’t we be? Seasoned boybanders know exactly when to play every one of their point-wink-kissy face card. But these boys up their own game by complementing that combination with all the right “I love you Singapore” proclamations. Whether it’s “You’re the best fans in the entire world” to “Thank you for keeping the Backstreet pride alive all these years”, the audience got what they paid for and eagerly lapped it all up.
Some might pick up on how the high-octane moments have been clearly plotted out and enthusiastic backup dancers strategically placed to give the men - all pushing or in their 40s now - a breather. Others might even grumble how the concert could have been longer, perhaps with the inclusion of other hits like All I Have To Give, I Still or Just Want You To Know. But aren’t we all just a little bit older now? And it’s obvious that dad bods aside, age really hasn’t tempered the Backstreet Boys’ energy on stage.
Like I said before in my previous BSB concert review, walking down memory lane and reminiscing the ‘90s with the boys have always been less of an attempt to hold onto the past and more of a big unabashed celebration of where we’ve been. A BSB concert is an equivalent of a high school reunion, filled with both magical memories and cringe-worthy moments. That is the enchantment of teenage pop.
We've grown up with the boys, it's time we grow old with them. This is a band that was first formed in 1993 and an astonishing 24 years on, they're still touring. By the time they belt out fan-favourite I Want It That Way and encore with the extravagant Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), you can completely understand why.
Yet again, BSB got us to party like it was 1999. And I, along with a stadium full of fans, was once again a screaming teenage girl. Some things never and shouldn't change. As long as you love them and quit playing games with their heart, the Backstreet Boys will forever be a classic boyband mainstay. Because they already have the shape of our hearts and we all want it that way.