Miami Herald Review: 01/22/01, Fort Lauderdale FL
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Date: Jan 23, 2001
Backstreet Boys, 'Elvis' get in sync with fans' needs
BY HOWARD COHEN
Published on Wednesday, January 24, 2001
South Florida was home to two major pop concerts early this week that, on first glance, couldn't seem more opposite.
Monday night at Sunrise's National Car Rental Center, pop's overall reigning boy band, the Backstreet Boys, started its Black & Blue World Tour with an extravagant sold-out show, the first of three appearances here (some tickets remain for tonight's performance) before a delighted audience made up of tots, teens and moms and dads.
Conversely, Sunday night at Sunrise Musical Theatre, an early teen idol, Elvis Presley, performed with members of his original band to an equally devoted, albeit older, audience, some of whom wept. It should be said, of course, that The King is still dead; he appeared on a large, poorly focused video screen while his ace band played live.
The two shows, Black & Blue and Elvis -- The Concert, shared more than one might imagine.
Both events define manufactured entertainment. The Backstreet Boys didn't pool their talents because the need to make music wouldn't stop gnawing at them.
Rather, the quintet was custom cast by a middle-age Svengali in Orlando who enlisted adult Swedish songwriters to compose immediate radio-friendly songs and the Backstreet Boys (and rivals) were born.
Elvis -- The Concert, featuring Presley appearing from the beyond via technology, was no less contrived.
Presley and/or ghost commanded attention solely through his delivery. It's a different time, naturally, and today's audiences require lavish special effects and huge production values and, on that end, the Backstreet Boys were perfectly in sync with their fans' needs on this eye-catching, well-staged, if overproduced show. Some of the visual delights included a mock meteor shower, a visit, via video, to the Boys' dressing room and some nimble dance routines. The musicians were hidden within the set.
BBoys Kevin, Howie D., AJ, Brian and Nick (fans are on a first-name basis with these guys) relied heavily on choreographed dance steps (occasionally floundering amid the extra dancers and props) and staging with enough wattage to rescue California from its current electric power crisis.
What makes the BBoys far and away the best of the current pop acts, though, are its songs. Strip away the gimmickry, which sometimes overwhelmed, and tunes such as I Want It That Way, Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely and the newer More Than That, proved melodically sound and vocally tight. The BBoys are also good-natured, unfailingly energetic and, as sheer eye-candy and pop hooks go, you could do a lot worse than scoring a ticket for tonight's performance.
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