NY Post Review: 02/04/01, Uniondale, NY
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OH BOYS! A CRAFTY SHOW
By DAN AQUILANTE
THE BACKSTREET BOYS Tonight, 7:30, Nassau Coliseum. The concert is sold out. Expect a multi-night return engagement at Madison Square Garden on the second leg of their American tour in early summer.
WHEN the lights went out at the Meadowlands, before the Backstreet Boy's took the stage, the arena's expanse of darkness peppered with thousands of cobalt blue glow-sticks stood as a brilliant, yet subtle billboard for the band's latest album - "Black and Blue."
The night's color scheme wasn't lost on the kiddies too young to have mastered their ABCs, their moms and dad to whom they clung or their big sisters screeching in adolescent glee awaiting this Saturday night date with the objects of desire - all five of them.
Right from the start, the Backstreeters - Nick, A.J., Brian, Kevin and Howie - looked dangerous in black long-rider trench coats (lined in blue velvet) as they spread out on the narrow deck of the arena-wide ship-shaped stage.
Not that the BSB needed any help to announce their arrival at the hall, but the pop superstars took no chances. The opening number was a no-holds-barred, gee-whiz spectacle during which the band performing under a barrage of indoor fireworks that rained from the rafters. The eye candy lent the tune the impression that the band was under attack.
That production number unglued the fans from their seats, which went mostly unused for the remainder of the show. While the opening songs enjoyed their share of banshee wails from the estrogen-charged audience, the highest peaks mounted by the Boys came during renditions of their best-known hits such as "I Want It That Way" and "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely," for which they received a Grammy nomination this year.
You have to give the Backstreet Boys credit: They worked every tune as if they were hungry young boxers trying to deliver a knockout punch. On song three, the funky "Shining Star," the Boys connected and had the adoring girls on the mat. After the intense calisthenics of the first three tunes, Backstreet relaxed with a bump 'n' grind ballad that allowed everyone to catch their breath.
That proved to be the basic formula of the concert, three fast numbers with fancy footwork, then a ballad. It's interesting to note that the star of the show is the Backstreet Boys, not an individual Backstreet Boy. That isn't to say each member of this vocal group doesn't have his own following, but in concert they share the spotlight with an unexpected lack of ego and a sense of democracy. That leads to confusion as to who is actually a song's lead, - especially when the group is bopping around stage surrounded by their dance troupe.
Since nearly every song in the 20-song set received a costume change, the band disguised these dead moments with a number of ploys. The most memorable was the ancient vaudeville trick where the Boys, one at a time, entered a single steamer trunk on stage to the pleasant piano strains of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer."
Kevin had the night's funniest line after his four cohorts were "in" the trunk. He turned to the roadies in the wings and said, "OK, boys, toss it into the Hudson." He then entered the box himself. From there the action was directed to the dressing room via video where the Boys offered the girls peeks at pecs and Monkee-ed around in the locker room.
What the fans didn't realize was that the horseplay was a tape, allowing the band enough time to change clothes, stop sweating and head to the other side of the arena to emerge from the floor of a secondary stage singing their romantic ballad "Shape of My Heart," the debut single from "Black and Blue."
At the close of the tune, an elaborate arena-long bridge was lowered from the ceiling, which not only solved the problem of getting the lads back onto the main stage, it served as a way for the entire house - even those in the nosebleed seats - to get a view of these teen idols.
Between the infectious dance pop, precise hoofing and terrific staging, the show was good entertainment that titillated but never ventured into the risque. This is a band that works at its craft, and their effort shows in concert.
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