For anyone who grew up listening to — or let’s be honest, swooning over — the Backstreet Boys, Monday night’s concert at Bell MTS Place provided plenty of nostalgia.
And, judging by the number of old BSB concert T-shirts spotted on the way into the venue, there were a lot of longtime fans in the crowd last night.
The pop group, made up of AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell, is on a global tour supporting their ninth studio album, DNA, which came out in January and immediately hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 list — their first album to top the charts since Black & Blue 19 years ago.
Concert ReviewClick to Expand
Bell MTS Place
Attendance: Approx. 12,500
The boy band from Florida rose to superstardom in 1996 with the release of their self-titled album and have sold more than 100 million records in the last two decades.
Aside from a two-year hiatus in the early 2000s, the Backstreet Boys have never really stopped making music — or making female fans squeal, if Monday night’s crowd of mostly 30-something women can be used as any kind of benchmark.
The five-piece came onstage just after 9 p.m. following a larger-than-life video montage. Deafening screams filled the arena when flirty clips of each singer flashed on the screen — Carter and Littrell got the biggest rise out of the crowd.
When the Boys, although "men" is more appropriate since all of the members are either approaching or well into their 40s, appeared on stage in real life they were dressed in all black and doing some classic BSB synchronized choreography.
They kicked off the night with a few classics, like I Wanna Be With You from their first album and The Call, before getting into some new material. After a short solo by Littrell, the band reunited on stage for New Love, a high-energy, rather risque song from DNA that was accompanied by a fair amount of crotch-grabbing and pelvic thrusting.
It hardly felt like the beginning of the work week inside Bell MTS Place. The crowd was absolutely buzzing and almost everyone was on their feet after the first few bars of the opening number.
The Backstreet Boys have such a wide catalogue of hits that every single song on Monday’s setlist, from Get Down to Shape of My Heart, was met with a huge wave of cheers and an audible singalong.
Ticket holders in the "DNA Circle" — a standing-room-only pit surrounded by a catwalk stage — got a 360 degree VIP experience. The performers spent a lot of time moving around the stage and interacting with those in the front row, all while nailing their camera cues and their dance moves.
The band played nearly non-stop, but paused a few times in between songs to chat. Each time Winnipeg was mentioned by name the crowd hit a new decibel.
One interlude featured an onstage costume change that ended with Richardson and McLean each tossing a signed pair of briefs into the audience. The arena somehow got louder and the gesture was quickly repaid by a fan who threw a pink thong on stage.
The Backstreet Boys sounded pitch-perfect live and catered to what the audience clearly wanted — nostalgia hits from the 90s and some personalized attention. The group delivered on all accounts and made it clear, through high energy and a well produced concert, why they remain the biggest boy band in the world.
Littrell’s 16-year-old son Baylee opened for the show. The up-and-coming pop country artist is the spitting image of his dad, right down to the blonde curls, and has the pipes and charisma to carry on the family business. Baylee played for about 30 minutes and chatted with the crowd in between songs, which included his first single Don’t Knock It and his newest release, We Run This Beach.
Victoria Duffield opened for the Backstreet Boys the last time they stopped in Winnipeg in 2014 during the band’s In a World Like This Tour.
The DNA World Tour wraps up in November and the group has hinted that another Las Vegas residency (The Backstreet Boys spent two years posted up at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino from 2017 to 2019) may be in the cards.
The biggest singalong of the night came after I Want It That Way and was quickly followed by the biggest cheer of the night when the band returned for their encore wearing Winnipeg Jets jerseys.
After playing more than 30 songs and countless costume changes, the group finished their two hour show fittingly with Larger Than Life and actual fireworks.