Planet Hollywood Review: 01/22/01, Fort Lauderdale FL
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Date: Feb 03, 2001
Undoubtedly, there are a few things that come to mind when you hear: "Backstreet Boys." The mere mention of the pop group is enough to send teenage girls into hysteria, quickly followed by a round of who knows the most trivial facts about Nick Carter. But lately, the pop group who took the world by storm -- literally -- late last year as they released their most recent album, Black and Blue, have clearly conquered a broader audience. The quintet from Orlando has still got it goin' on -- and have for nearly the past decade. So, in the spirit of bringing you closer to your favorite musical stars, we traveled down to Fort Lauderdale, FL for opening night of the Backstreet Boys' Black and Blue World Tour and here is what I have to report...
Promptly at 7:30 the lights dimmed and the crowd went absolutely crazy; fans were screaming, blue glow sticks were waving frantically and the anticipation was tangible as a new artist, later revealing herself as Krystal, took the stage. I wondered who she was, and how she won the coveted opening spot for the largest tour of the year. Later, we learned that she is one of the artists who will debut on the Backstreet Boys' new record label. Yep, you got it. The Boys, riddled with past record company woes, are taking matters into their own hands and starting a label from scratch. But, enough of that for now. After Krystal finished her set, the arena once again grew dark and everyone knew what was about to happen. They just didn't know how...
On cue with the instrumental opening, a silver metallic curtain dropped to reveal five A-frame platforms and a gigantic circular projection screen. The projection screen, nestled in a dark celestial, Twilight Zone-ish setting, came to life and the audience was transported at light speed into deep space. A spacecraft, like the one from the "Larger than Life" video, soared through the galaxy as meteors erupted into brilliant pyrotechnic surges on the stage. It was quite an opening sequence -- you know, the kind when you can't help but to expect awesome things to follow.
The Backstreet Boys made their entrance on five rising pillars, center stage, clouded by explosions of steam. Once the smoke dissipated, Kevin Richardson (29), Brian Littrell (25), Howie Dorough (27), AJ McLean (23) and Nick Carter (21) came into full view, appropriately clad in blue and black leather costumes. It didn't take long for the fan-centric group to open the sold-out show -- the first of three in South Florida -- with their latest ode to their fans, "Everyone. " The energy in that arena could have permanently ended all the California blackouts and the seamless transition into their 1999 fan anthem "Larger than Life" was only natural. The familiar lyrics and the choreography immortalized by it's run on MTV kept the crowd dancing in the zone their $39. 50 admission earned them.
One peculiar thing I noticed almost immediately was that the lighting system seemed somewhat different. All the lights came from directly above the stage or out from behind the Boys. I'm sure it must have been better for them without having to stare into the lights as they looked out into the audience. Of course, it also liked to blind anyone lucky enough to have floor seats.
It wasn't long before the Boys decided to get more intimate with the audience and perform some of the ballads they're revered for. Once they'd changed into 3+ piece white suits (with enough variation to accommodate their personal tastes), the BSB slowed things down with songs like "Yes I Will" and Dorough-penned "What Makes You Different (Makes You Beautiful)."
The fellas even worked some sparkling canes into their routine and completed the balladeering with a classic gentlemanly bow. Ahhh...I just loved that. After performing a few more tunes including sentimental favorite, "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely," it was time for yet another costume change. But this wasn't any ordinary quick change. In a cute little (and clearly pre-recorded) skit, a camera followed the BSB backstage into their dressing room. I don't want to reveal too much here, but suffice it to say that fans will really enjoy it, because the personalities they have grown to love shine through. Besides, watching silly-string fights is always entertaining!
One of the best surprises of the show followed that skit, when the Backstreet Boys made a rare appearance -- on the opposite side of the arena. You could tell it was a big hit with the fans by the decibel of their screams. On a rising platform which they all circled, Dorough and Littrell belted out ballad "How Do I Fall In Love With You," long-time favorite "I'll Never Break Your Heart" and "Time," which was the tune the quintet wrote together last summer in the Bahamas. The one problem with this segment was that the lighting wasn't very great. If you weren't following the projection screen, chances are that you would have lost where the Boys were (except for Carter, who made is presence known by jumping atop a mixer's table).
When the fellas returned to the stage, they sang "The Answer to Our Lives," which Richardson introduced as a socially and environmentally conscious tune and named the charities that each of the guys are affiliated with...as if the fans didn't know! "I Want It That Way" and "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)" followed as the show moved into its next segment -- time to rock again.
I must admit this portion of the show was my favorite. The segment included a jam session where Carter took over one of the band's guitars and rocked out, as Dorough watched Richardson give himself whiplash and McLean encouraged the audience to participate, while an amused Littrell laughed at the spectacle. It was a great moment, which I just happened to capture on film for you! Speaking of the band, I was a little shocked to find that there are no longer any members of the original Backstreet Boys band playing on this tour. It was a little sad to learn -- their added personalities will be missed. Hmmmm... just thought it was an interesting note for any of you fans out there.
Although I personally believe that the Backstreet Boys can sing a mean ballad with their beautiful five-part harmonies, the Black and Blue show was all about the fast songs. "Get Another Boyfriend," in particular, demonstrated why these guys have beaten the odds. The awesome lighting and original special effects onscreen only complemented the dancing and the performance. It was -- hands down -- one of the best songs I've seen live in some time. "The Call," Backstreet's current single, measured up to a not so distant second. Worked into the energy of the song, on the stage, and in the National Car Rental Center, was the fast-paced enigmatic music video, which features green lasers and fast cars. Those two songs, which ended the show, were visually stunning and absolutely spectacular.
Well, just as all great shows do, it had to end some time. I remember being puzzled as to what song they could possibly encore with because -- let's face it -- too many fans were still screaming for the show actually draw to its close. Out of the 22 songs that they performed, how in the world could you remember which one had cleverly been left for last? Alas, we stopped worrying about it and just waited. And sure enough the lights came back on and there the Boys were for the finale. When the music started, we just kind of chuckled -- of course, the show would end with the single that introduced the album! As the Backstreet Boys (with a great deal of aid from their fans) sang "Shape of My Heart," the arena was filled with love and respect... and then black and blue confetti, which shot out from huge cannons on the floor. And the Backstreet Boys took their final bow and knocked out the first show on the Black and Blue World Tour with a bang.
Aside from a few sound and lighting glitches -- which we're going to chalk up to opening night bugs that probably were ironed out a few hours after the show anyway -- the performance was well worth the price of admission. And as it were, those five inquisitive gentlemen who, on their last album repeatedly wanted to be told why, must have figured it out on their own... that everything has its place and "Time. "
Way to go, guys!
Written and Photographed by PlanetHollywood.com Resident Music Junkie Sheri Hjelm
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