Backstreet Boys impress with hit-packed performance at First Niagara Pavilion


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The Backstreet Boys had three conditions for the crowd at its concert Saturday at First Niagara Pavilion: go crazy, be loud and act like you’re 15 years old.

The audience delivered, screaming and swaying through the approximately two-hour show, part of the “In A World Like This” world tour. And the band delivered, too, with hit after hit highlighting a range of songs from its 21 years. 

The group, made up of Kevin Richardson, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, A.J. McLean and Nick Carter, got down to business with a James Bond-esque entrance that featured the men looking suave in slimming suits, black dress shirts and patent shoes. Their sophisticated styling colored classics “The Call,” “Don’t Want You Back” and “Incomplete” with a mature air.

The night proceeded like a roller coaster, building in tempo with dance-laced renditions of songs such as “All I Have to Give” (complete with hat choreography) and “We’ve Got it Goin’ On” before slowing things down with a sampling of ballads. For the romantic slow song “Breathe” off their latest album, they invited everyone to turn on the flashlight feature on their smartphones, illuminating the amphitheater with thousands of tiny white lights. Later they demonstrated the depth of their talents with an a cappella take of “Drowning” and an acoustic treatment of “10,000 Promises,” “Madeleine” and “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” with each band member playing an instrument. 

As the boys changed outfits, they kept the crowd entertained with a comical pre-recorded Q&A with the band and a sneak peek of scenes from their upcoming documentary.

The Backstreet Boys know how to put on a show. In the past they’ve pulled out pyrotechnics, surrounded themselves with back-up dancers, and even flew into arenas on harnesses during the “Into the Millennium” tour. But this was a no-nonsense night of music that kept the boys in the spotlight the whole time. They didn’t rely on big bands and elaborate sets to dazzle crowds. They did it with their on-point vocals, dance moves, instrumental accompaniments and even some personal tales about Pittsburgh. (Who knew Mr. McLean’s first acting teacher was born and raised here?)

“We’re like a fine wine,” Mr. Dorough told the crowd. “We get better with time.” 

Before the main attraction, Avril Lavigne got the trip down memory lane started with several of her signature songs, including “Sk8er Boi,” “Girlfriend” and “Complicated.”


Sara Bauknecht: sbauknecht@post-gazette.com or on Twitter @SaraB_PG.

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