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Sunday, December 03, 2023



The weekends Backstreet Boys concert at Sunbet Arena in Pretoria proved to be a captivating journey into the past, delighting a jam-packed crowd with an electrifying display of talent and showmanship.

As we assess this highly anticipated performance, let's delve into the highlights that made it an unforgettable night for fans. The tour started in 2019, was postponed due to covid and ended on South Africa shores. The tour included 218 shows, performed in 44 countries and over 6 continents. It was their biggest tour to date.

Originality was on full display as the Backstreet Boys took the stage, focusing on their own material and steering clear of cover songs. The group's commitment to their latest album, "DNA," was evident as they flawlessly incorporated a substantial amount of new material into their setlist. This dedication to evolving their sound while staying true to their roots showcased their ongoing creativity and ensured a fresh and exciting experience for concertgoers.

Catering to the audience's every need, the Backstreet Boys delivered a comprehensive concert experience. They seamlessly weaved new material with crowd-pleasing dance moves and moments of nostalgic bliss, ensuring that fans of all generations were thoroughly entertained. The concerts were a remarkable journey back in time, igniting a wave of nostalgia while showcasing the bands growth and musical prowess. With an impeccable blend of new and old favorites, the Backstreet Boys proved their enduring popularity and reaffirmed their status as one of the most beloved boy bands in history. The performances were a testament to their enduring appeal and their ability to transport audiences to a place of pure musical euphoria. It was also a testament to their 30 years spent together.

The sensational boy band that dominated the music scene in the early 2000s, proved they still have what it takes to captivate audiences during their concerts. Despite the passage of time slightly affecting their dance moves and vocal prowess, the group's electrifying performance over the weekend showcased their enduring ability to rock fans' bodies and reignite nostalgic memories.

The concert kicked off with an energetic rendition of "Everyone" from the band's 2000 album "Black & Blue." While the dance moves may not have matched their prime, the quintet, now comfortably in their 40s and 50s, impressed with their commitment and dedication to the choreography. Standout performances came from AJ McLean and Nick Carter, who showcased their smooth moves, undoubtedly influenced by their participation in "Dancing with the Stars." Kevin Richardson also commanded attention with his weighty gravitas on stage.

Even with the passage of time, the Backstreet Boys' ability to entertain and engage the crowd remained intact. While their dance routines may no longer appear effortless, their two-hour performance showcased their enduring talent and dedication to their craft. This tour, which could have easily been dismissed as a nostalgia cash-grab, exuded genuine heart and effort, ensuring a memorable experience for fans.

Accompanied by generic yet visually pleasing screensaver-like visuals, the band seamlessly navigated through their first act set. Though the iconic hits from their golden era were not immediately performed, the crowd's energy and decibel-shattering screams remained high as they enthusiastically embraced the deeper cuts. The constant dancing and choreography maintained the audience's engagement throughout, and while the newer songs may not have been crowd-pleasers, they still delivered fun and lively performances.

The strategic placement of the "DNA" moments, which were often the fastest songs, ensured that the show didn't become overwhelmed with new material. During songs like "Nobody Else," "Chateau," and "The Way It Was," the band cleverly trimmed down the tunes, allowing one member to shine on stage while engaging in friendly banter with the crowd. This tactic also served as a disguise for the numerous costume changes that took place throughout the night.
Midway through the show, the band ventured into a segment dedicated to their beloved ballads. The power ballad "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely" was a standout moment, eliciting a roaring response from the audience. Despite their transition into fatherhood and a more mature phase of life, the Backstreet Boys still exude a youthful exuberance and camaraderie on stage. The banter, dad jokes, and playful interactions between songs only added to the night's charm.

The middle section had the crowd roaring with delight. “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” is a banger of a ballad, encouraging massive sing-alongs along with “Shape of My Heart,” “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” and “As Long As You Love Me.” Near the end of the segment, BSB gave the band a break and did a lovely harmonious a cappella rendition of “Breathe” that showed off their vocal chops while “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” radiated old-school Motown ballad inspirations, complete with the little synchronized moves at their individual mic stands.

And for those people, they wouldn’t have to wait much longer for the smash hits either as Backstreet Boys wrapped up the set with a barrage of classics – starting with “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” somehow made even catchier with a bonus crunchy EDM beat added to the mix. I still think it should be illegal to not open with the swaggery hit – but the wait was well worth it, especially as more high-energy pop favorites (“We’ve Got It Goin’ On,” “That’s The Way I Like It,” “Get Another Boyfriend,” “The One”) quickly followed. The run ended with the triumphant boy band staple “I Want It That Way”.

After a brief break, Backstreet Boys came out for a few final songs and one final costume change – unfortunately not into their robot suits from the iconic “Larger Than Life” music video. Thankfully, after the first encore of the new stompy electronic smash “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” the song itself did make its expected appearance – complete with AJ’s incredible sinister cackle at the open and, perhaps the biggest shocker of the night, a bit of a Justin Timberlake beat coming through in the background. If NSYNC and BSB can (tangentially) unite, maybe there can be world peace in our time after all.

They promised to be back on the shores if we wanted them back. The Backstreet Boys can be back anytime they please.
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]

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Kevin Rademeyer

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