Stephanie Sokol for The Oakland Press
INDEPENDENCE TWP. — Though the world is changing, there’s still a place for The Backstreet Boys.
The quintet proved that on Thursday night, Aug. 8, at DTE Energy Music Theatre, with performances of their most popular songs as well as new tracks from the just-released “In a World Like This” album.
Before the Boys performed, Jesse McCartney took the stage to open with “Leavin’,” from his 2008 album “Departure.” During his 12 song, 45-minute set, McCartney and his band were classily clad in suits and ties and danced with Michael Jacksonesque choroegraphy. McCartney’s upbeat performances of “How Do You Sleep” and “Body Language” prompted endless, high-volume cheers from the audience, while new tracks such as “Checkmate” and “So Cool” showcased his smooth voice through a more R&B sound.
McCartney’s concentration was tested when the sound system malfunctioned during “It’s Over,” but he continued singing and dancing despite the interruption. He also showed off his instrumental skills, and ended with his 2004 claim-to-fame hit “Beautiful Soul.”
Backstreet Boys started their 22-song, two-hour set in dramatic fashion,
emerging from beneath the stage amidst a cloud of billowing smoke to kick off the night with “The Call.” “Looks like you guys are here to party with the Backstreet Boys—I personally want to welcome all of you beautiful people,” Nick Carter said after the high-energy opening, and the group members’ humble personalities and sense of humor added to the light mood of the evening. Backstreet Boys constantly reminded the crowd that they wouldn’t be where they are today without their fans, promising to “party like its 1999” — when the group was at its career zenith. They executed signature boy-band dance moves throughout the show, with three outfit changes from white suits to grungy vests and casual looks.
And though celebrating their 20th anniversary, Backstreet Boys were certainly anxious to showcase “In a World Like This.” Brian Littrell said it’s the first album where they had “complete creative control,” and that it was created “for the fans.” AJ McLean and Kevin Richardson talked about their children, saying that becoming fathers inspired the new song “Show Em What You’re Made Of.” The album and tour mark Richardson’s return to the group after a six-year hiatus, and the joy of the reunion was evident on stage. “Permanent Stain” was soulful, while “Breathe” brought an ’80s vibe. The group’s sound has clearly evolved over the years, growing more mature and somewhat alternative while still embodying the boy-band pop charm that made them famous.
An acoustic three-song set toward the end of the main set showcased Backstreet Boys’ pure vocal harmonies, while they joked about learning to play instruments since they wouldn’t always be able to dance. Bringing about three dozen fans on stage, the group explained that the new “Madeline” was about ending bullying and teen suicides, and for “Quit Playing Games with My Heart” Howie Dorough directed each side of the DTE crowd to sing parts of the chorus on their own, adding to the fun.
Ending the night with “Larger than Life,” the Backstreet Boys proved they still have it, providing a music party that truly felt like something out of the turn of the century.