Backstreet Boys at the O2 Arena
One can’t help but wonder if, all those years ago, the lyrics “Backstreet’s back” were penned with this very tour in mind. Either way, the track is a fitting highlight in a nostalgia-fuelled night at a sold-out O2 Arena, where pop sensation Backstreet Boys (now very much men) play to an ecstatic crowd for two hours, performing no less than 33 songs spanning across their entire discography.
The band open with Everyone, and aptly, everyone in the stadium goes wild. This is the group’s biggest tour since their heyday in the late 90s/early 2000s, and tonight’s audience of mainly women – the group’s teenage fanbase have now hit a new demographic – prove that against the odds, they’ve maintained their popularity. By the first big hit of the night, The Call, the five-piece prove they have earnt it. Their vocals are still impressive, characterised by trademark tight harmonies, but more than this, they are still solid performers, their dancing consistently in sync.
But if the first half warms everyone up, the second half really turns up the heat. Renditions of Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) and the super classic cheesy 90s ballad As Long As You Love Me go down a treat, taking us back in time to the nights of our youth.
Despite being American, Backstreet Boys gained success in Europe first, and most of their songs are penned by Swedish super-songwriter Max Martin, who paved his own success also thanks to this band. In a way, then, touring over here is like coming home. They certainly added a personal touch to the performance, sharing memories with the audience. Kevin was celebrating his 19th anniversary with his wife, who was attending. Then Brian reminded us how there’s a great woman behind each one of them and how they have been together, as a band, for 26 years – perhaps the most impressive marriage of all.
Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) causes a huge roar as dressed in all white, the group bounce across the stage. During the intro they sing a snippet of Jump Around, the track played with a stronger hip-hop tweak. The One and I Want It That Way close the set on a corny, hyper-melodic note. But that’s what the band do best and it still works perfectly.
As if we haven’t had enough smash-hit singles, the boys encore with Don’t Go Breaking My Heart and 1999 mega-hit Larger Than Life – which still ranks today one of the most expensive music videos of all time. As they exit the stage to a sea of adoring fans, the Backstreet Boys mercifully justify the price of their tickets and continue their lasting legacy.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Backstreet Boys’s website here.
Watch the video for Larger Than Life here: