Concert review: Backstreet Boys bring back the 90's on Memorial Day at Ruth Eckerd Hall (with pics!)

To satisfy my teenage pop-obsessed past I decided to go for it when I saw that Backstreet Boys would be performing in Clearwater on May 31st. Yes, “Backstreet’s back, alright!”

To open, the audience met what looked like it could be the “Jackson 4,” but called themselves Mindless Behavior.  With matching plaid pants, hip-pop dance moves and prepubescent-pitched catchy tunes, they were the perfect opener to complement the infamous Backstreet Boys. Mindless Behavior had very little stage to dance all over as the BSB stage set-up was hidden right behind them and a huge red curtain. Mindless Behavior put on a great opening set.

Ruth Eckerd was filled with ladies from about 12-50, disgruntled husbands and boyfriends forced against their will and a handful of men who were actually fans. These girls were all decked out, accessorized and ready to see their heartthrobs. Anyone not dressed up was sporting an overpriced Backstreet Boys shirt, tote bag or hoodie that immediately replaced their other tee or purse in anticipation of the boy band’s first Ruth Eckerd Hall appearance.

I knew they would make some insanely dramatic entrance, but it turned out to be even better. As soon as the lights went off so did the screams, cries and wails from every girl in the crowd. They had an elaborate stage setup on top of the actual Ruth Eckerd stage, complete with a staircase on either side of it, which was reminiscent of their older stage setups, just a quarter of the size of their arena shows. Now I’d never been to a BSB concert, but like all other 90’s teen girls, I knew all about what I’d missed at their shows.

They had this hilarious music video-esque/movie intro on a huge screen at the center of the top part of their stage. They had a countdown to the big moment and as their movie-screen selves started to move closest to the camera, they jumped out of the screen and the girls went crazy! Everyone was standing up and moving around as they opened with “Everybody, Backstreet’s back!”

At the risk of completely discrediting myself as having any kind of musical knowledge, I’ll admit I knew all the words and all the names of their songs through about 2003. After that I fell in and out of touch with them but knew they were still producing music. They said a new album is currently under way and should be releasing later this year. After 17 years they still have an amazing following, and this is even with one less Backstreet Boy than they started with.

After the big opener they played “We’ve got it goin’ on,” a newer selection called “PDA,” and a “Quit Playin’ Games/As Long as You Love Me” montage. Complete with wardrobe changes, fly-girls, and BSB movie interludes, the show was definitely quite the spectacle. They had a “Fast and Furious” montage with Howie against Vin Diesel which provided time to change and they reappeared in BSB sequined hoodies.  

They still had the moves. Every once in awhile between the band themselves and the fly girls they would miss a beat or over-anticipate a step, but they still had it “Goin on’.” The crowd seemed to agree. They played songs new and old to satisfy every age in the crowd. “This is Us,” the title track to their most recent album was then followed by “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,” and “All I Have to Give.” They kept a good flow of new-old, new-old but you could tell who loved them from the start and who just recently jumped on the BSB bandwagon, with a simple scan of the crowd.

Besides the BSB “Fight Club” montage with AJ, the “Enchanted” montage with Brian, and the “Matrix” montage with Nick, the lighting, onstage drummer, and random use of cutesy props to act out the stories within the songs made for an amazingly entertaining evening. That’s the thing about Pop shows; it’s all a charade and a great one at that.

They’ve stayed consistent over all these years, which is more than we can stay for any other boy-band. BSB were some of the pioneers of the boy-band craze and it’s nice to see them still putting their all into their career. Sure, may be Pop music at its most trendy, but it certainly sticks with you; every fan at Ruth Eckerd Hall Monday night was a testament to that!

Backstreet Boys ended the evening with their greatest hit “I Want It That Way,” which ended up being the high point of the evening. They returned for a quick and easy one-song encore of their latest single “Straight through my Heart.”

The crowd left elated and ready to gab about the show. I heard a few guys commenting on how BSB updated their choreography, and even my husband admitted that, overall, the show was pretty good. For a trip down Pop music’s memory lane, it was a great one, and my fourteen year old self is finally at peace after having the ultimate boy-band experience to end Memorial Day Weekend!

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