Backstreet Boys @ M.E.N. Arena In Manchester, UK
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Date: Nov 02, 2005
By Nicola Dowling
AFTER four years out "taking a breather", the come-back gig could have gone horribly wrong last night. It didn’t.
There was a moment there, at the beginning, when the dance routines seemed a bit slack and flabby and the cheeky antics of the boys just didn’t seem quite so cute as they did a decade ago.
But it was a momentary blip, caused by the cynical eye of a thirtysomething, that quickly disappeared. It wasn’t long before I was transported back to the nineties, when the Backstreet Boys were in the first flush of success. And I wasn’t the only one.
It is no vain claim that their fanbase spans the generations. Among the hordes of teens and twenties were a few women of a certain age, including one songstress in her fifties, who knew every single word to every single song and belted it out, complete with gestures and arm movements, as her rather shy- looking daughter stood silent and stock-still beside her.
As one of the few men there (my boyfriend) told me: "The appeal is in the harmonies."
It’s true, that is why I became a fan all those years ago. The trouble is, no matter how good the sound technician is, at a live gig you’re never going to appreciate the subtle tones like you can in your bedroom, not least because of the screaming from the audience.
While there was nothing particularly new or exciting in the stage show, no flying on trip wires or dramatic costume changes, the staples were there – a good smattering of fireworks and a green laser and strobe light show to accompany a robotic dance routine during Larger Than Life.
There was also a pretty good mix of the new and the old stuff, with favourites like I Want It That Way and Show Me The Meaning Of Feeling Lonely interspersed with material from the new album, Never Gone.
I wasn’t keen on the cynical plug for the new single, which involved asking the crowd to text on their mobiles to get the live version of Just Want You To Know during the performance.
I was also slightly miffed at the rather abrupt one-song encore, Everybody, followed by a very quick lights-up and out you go.
While we’re told that AJ is now sober and "in recovery", it seems Brian is a married dad preparing to release a solo Christian album next year.
So, whether the Backstreet Boys are back for good, is anyone’s guess.
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