Newsday Review: 2/4/01- Uniondale, NY
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Date: Feb 06, 2001
When Boys Play but Don't Have Fun
by Glenn Gamboa
MUSIC REVIEW BACKSTREET BOYS. Don't boys just wanna have fun? Apparently not. At Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, Sunday and last night. Seen Sunday.
PITY THE POOR Backstreet Boys.
Sure, the Orlando quintet's tour is sold out. Their latest album, "Black and Blue," went platinum in a week. And teenage girls shriek at them wherever they go. But Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, A.J. McLean and Kevin Richardson don't seem to be enjoying themselves much anymore.
Starting with the opening number, "Everyone," which dramatizes meteors hurtling toward Earth, wiping out squadrons of dancers in upsetting explosions until the Boys save the day on their silvery space pedestals, things seem dire in Backstreet land. After presumably saving the world in the first song, the Boys had some extra adrenaline to burn off during a well-choreographed "Larger Than Life," which showcased the 10 backing dancers and the stars' kinda-gawky moves wonderfully.
This minor success, unfortunately, zapped a great deal of life from them, leading to nine ballads out of the next 11 songs. Large parts of the crowd at the sold-out Nassau Coliseum sat down and never stood again until they headed for the exits after the nearly two-hour show.
Though the new ballads from "Black and Blue" are generally nice and mainly written by the Boys, they lack the style and snap of the older ones. Songs such as "What Makes You Different Makes You Beautiful" or "Yes I Will" fall into an unflattering rhythm. Littrell, who sounds more and more like Richard Marx with each tour, opens the songs; Dorough and McLean fill in until Carter comes in to hammer home his solo, and Richardson tries not to look bored.
The drop in quality from the stellar "I Want It That Way," one of the few songs where the Boys looked relaxed, to the bland "Time" shows why the guys are a bit defensive these days when comparisons between boy bands come up. If Swedish hit-maker Max Martin opts to give his gems to 'N Sync or Britney Spears instead of the Boys, they don't really have anything to replace it.
They could hide a lot of problems by throwing in older songs, but in pumping the "Black and Blue" songs, the Boys did abbreviated versions of "All I Have to Give" and "I'll Never Break Your Heart," while ignoring hits such as "Quit Playing Games" and "As Long as You Love Me" altogether.
Although "Everybody" and "The Call" were suitably flashy, it was too little too late to change the downhearted vibe.
The Backstreet Boys need to spend less time worrying about 'N Sync. They need to spend less time scouting for acts such as Krystal for their new label; she opened the show with a 20-minute set of Pink- meets-Mariah 'tude with little to back it up, and even dragged down the usually unsinkable Michael Jackson classic "I'll Be There." In short, the Boys need to work on finding fun in touring again or else they may need to work on finding new work.
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