Backstreet boys

Concert Review: Backstreet Boys in Saskatoon

Backstreet is back in Saskatoon and Saturday night’s show at the SaskTel Center was wild. Even the underwear flew. Read our review with photos

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A few songs from the Backstreet Boys’ DNA World Tour show in Saskatoon on Saturday night, Brian Littrell stood at the bottom of the stage, soaking up the cheers and shouts from a packed SaskTel center before waving to the crowd.

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After telling their Saskatoon fans they were “beautiful,” he said, “We want you to feel like you’re eight, 10, or 12.”

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It was playful interactions with fans like this — and between the musicians — that gave the show an intimate feel despite the cavernous space.

The evening was an electric trip down memory lane, with bass lines pulsing through the floor, laser light shows, wardrobe changes and a hydraulic stage lift.

Backstreet were back for the night in Saskatoon, having last played in the city in 2008 when they were in the company of fellow member Littrell’s cousin Kevin Richardson. Richardson returned to the fold in 2012 after a six-year absence.

They released studio album DNA in 2019, but plans to promote it on a world tour were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The album features more mature and sophisticated compositions, including “Chateau” (performed solo by Howie Dorough) and “No Place”, which featured a compilation video of the band members with their families.

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They will celebrate their 30th anniversary next year, something the youngest member Nick Carter, who, at 42, marveled at as he addressed the crowd.

While the climax hits “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”, “Get Down (You’re the One for Me)”, “Shape of My Heart” and “Quit Playing Games”, drew the loudest cries and the passionate songs, it was a mid-show a cappella performance of “Breathe” that showed off their true vocal talents. No bassline. No backing track. Just harmony.

In the late 1990s, following the band’s self-titled debut album, they enjoyed immense commercial success between 1996 and 2000 with four album releases. Nine studio albums, eight Grammy Awards later, they’re about to embark on new territory: their first official Christmas album. A Very Backstreet Christmas will debut this fall and will include a cover of Wham!’s “Last Christmas.”

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AJ McLean, who has a wide vocal range and sleek style (re: fedora), also showed he had a knack for comedy when paired with Richardson for a wardrobe change behind a box.

Do you remember when fans threw their underwear on stage at the band? They still do, and in a fun twist, the group returned the favor, throwing a few pairs of white briefs into the crowd.

The two-hour show ended with a two-song encore that drew the loudest cheers of the evening, as the band reappeared on stage using the hydraulic stage lift, with three carrying Saskatoon Blades sleeveless jerseys. Richardson let his hair down and Littrell approached the fans on stage.

The Backstreet Boys will make their next stop in Winnipeg on August 29.

Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys.  Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask.  on Saturday August 27, 2022.
Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys. Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask. on Saturday August 27, 2022. Photo by Michelle Berg /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon
Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys.  Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask.  on Saturday August 27, 2022.
Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys. Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask. on Saturday August 27, 2022. Photo by Michelle Berg /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon
Howie Dorough of the Backstreet Boys.  Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask.  on Saturday August 27, 2022.
Howie Dorough of the Backstreet Boys. Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask. on Saturday August 27, 2022. Photo by Michelle Berg /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon
AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys.  Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask.  on Saturday August 27, 2022.
AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys. Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask. on Saturday August 27, 2022. Photo by Michelle Berg /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon
Brian Littrell of the Backstreet Boys.  Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask.  on Saturday August 27, 2022.
Brian Littrell of the Backstreet Boys. Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask. on Saturday August 27, 2022. Photo by Michelle Berg /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon
Melany Buffalo (right) celebrates her birthday with her daughter Tara-Shae McArthur (left) in the front row.  Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask.  on Saturday August 27, 2022.
Melany Buffalo (right) celebrates her birthday with her daughter Tara-Shae McArthur (left) in the front row. Photo taken in Saskatoon, Sask. on Saturday August 27, 2022. Photo by Michelle Berg /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon

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