It’s rare to see two legacy boy bands take over the Strip on the same weekend, but the Backstreet Boys and K-pop sensation BTS have proven that this city is big enough for both.
Fans of the BTS-like army of the Backstreet Boys traveled from around the world to watch these pop veterans kick off a new series of their DNA World Tour at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on April 8-9, and it put long to come. The last time the band performed in Vegas was in 2019 during the Larger Than Life residency at Planet Hollywood, which became one of the best-selling residencies in Strip history. Judging by the packed Colosseum, the Boys still had it.
The April 9 concert was steeped in nostalgia. The Backstreet Boys have scoured much of their varied 26-year musical catalog, but have thankfully spoiled the crowd with headliners from Millennium and street boys, two pop staples that shaped much of the ’90s. “We’re going to take you back in time,” singer Brian Littrell promised the crowd. “We’re going to make you feel like you’re 12 again.”
And they succeeded. Every member looked in their prime, and the group moved like a well-drilled unit. During “Incomplete”, the boys took their places behind the microphone stands, performing synchronized movements as they harmonized. AJ McLean and Nick Carter stood out in most numbers for their well-preserved vibrato. Carter’s high notes on “The Way It Was” had everyone in the room fanning themselves.
It is also clear that time has not altered the bond of this group. At various times, Carter and McLean huddled together, singing side by side; Carter and Littrell were leaning against each other back to back; and McLean lovingly wrapped his arms around teammate Kevin Richardson. McLean and Richardson were particularly humorous and comfortable together in an interlude where they dressed up for their next onstage number, with two small dividers obscuring the audience’s view.
“Remember when women threw their bras and panties on stage? I think we have to return the favor,” McLean said, just before the duo playfully tossed two pairs of briefs in the GA section.
It was refreshing to see the band joking around with their now adult fans in this way. And more importantly, it gave fans a window into their personalities, beyond just being the ’90s idols they clearly still are. Another humanizing moment occurred during “No Place,” as video screens played images of the Backstreet Boys with their families. It was touching and personal, a welcome change of tone.
The Colosseum served as a remarkable backdrop for all of this, thanks to the elite space renovations. High-energy numbers like the ground-pounding “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” and “We Got It Goin’ On” absolutely thrived in that atmosphere. And the new extended LED video walls provided a wealth of special effects, like dramatic video footage played of each band member in slow motion. It was a feast for the eyes.
The Backstreet Boys clearly haven’t lost their boy band magic. They will return on April 15 and 16 for their second weekend of shows in Las Vegas before embarking on the rest of their tour. It is a pleasure to welcome them back, even if only for a short time.
“I want to be with you”
“I don’t want you to come back”
“Get Down (You’re the One for Me)”
“Show me the meaning of being alone”
“More than that”
“The Way It Was”
“The Shape of My Heart”
“Stop playing with my heart”
“As you Love Me”
“I don’t want to lose you now”
“I will never break your heart”
“All I Have to Give”
“Everyone (Backstreet is Back)”
“We have it going”
“It Must Be You”
“That’s the way I like it”
“Find Another Boyfriend”
“That’s why I wrote to you”
“I want it this way”
” Do not break My Heart “
“Larger Than Life” (Again)