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Concert review: Backstreet Boys

Mon Jul 25, 2005 1:05 AM ET

By Deborah Wilker

MIAMI (Hollywood Reporter) - The transition from teen idolhood to lasting music stardom is about as difficult an assignment as there is in showbiz, but the Backstreet Boys continue to do better in these treacherous waters than most.

Even before the start of a hiatus nearly five years ago, the pop quintet had managed to extend its run atop the '90s teen pop wave longer than many would have imagined, mainly by not pretending to be anything other than what they are: congenial G-rated vocalists with a big catalog of truly melodic stuff.

The "boys" - AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, Nick Carter and Kevin Richardson — have of course been men for a while now and, accordingly, most of them demonstrate the kind of common sense that typically comes with time and age. Smart enough to understand musical shifts in taste, and that a sizable chunk of their young audience has inevitably moved on, they have approached this new chapter in their lives with comparatively modest expectations.

Re-emerging in an altogether different musical age, the group is offering two-for-one lawn passes and other ticket specials on top of a humbling round of radio promo appearances and club dates earlier this year. But while the 10,000 or so fans who came out to the Sound Advice Amphitheater on Friday for the first concert were indeed just a fraction of the audience the guys drew in similar markets five years ago, it should be noted that 10,000 is still a strong number in the touring business.

Amid the requisite lasers, splashy pyrotechnics, quick-cut video segments and nimble choreography, the guys struck the right balance, confidently sandwiching new tracks such as "Weird World," "I Still . . ." and "My Beautiful Woman" from the new Jive album "Never Gone" between radio staples such as "The Call," "Larger Than Life," "The Shape of My Heart," "I Want It That Way," "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely" and on and on.

As in past tours, Motown and Michael Jackson served as recurring inspirations, particularly during "As Long as You Love Me," with its sample of the Spinners' classic "I'll Be Around" worked under the melody. Other than the fact that Carter still can't sing at all and should not be thrust forward as if he can - he was alarmingly out of tune at times - the breezy 95-minute set was a textbook example of a big pop show done well: earnest presentation, pretty melodies and, blessedly, no crotch-grabbing.

More importantly, the other guys can sing quite nicely, and the fact that their music (penned mostly by tunesmith Max Martin) remains eminently hummable bodes well for a future as adult contemporary hitmakers.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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