Backstreet Boys at New World Music Theatre

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
August 3, 1998

Here are a few factoids I picked up at the Backstreet Boys concert Saturday night at the New World Music Theatre in Tinley Park:

Nick Carter, the youngest (18), tallest (6-foot-1) and blondest of the five Boys, is the most popular.

The Backstreet Boys say “Wassup?!” a lot.

They are the male equivalent of the Spice Girls: young, good-looking and blandly appealing as singers.

They are neatly devoid of body hair.

England’s Jimmy Ray – one of their three opening acts – can sing better than any one of the Boys.

There is no row “I” between rows “H” and “J” at the New World. Wassup with that?

Having been to Hanson’s superior concert Friday at the same venue, I couldn’t help but notice how the two groups – which have their good looks to thank for their popularity with the pre-pubescent and teenage set – handle their shows in vastly different ways.

Hanson was all business, playing their own instruments and singing their hearts out. The only difference in the presentation of their show and, say, the Verve, was their youth.

The older Backstreet Boys are all built like Speedo models, and they capitalize on their sexuality with songs like “If You Want to Be a Good Girl (Get Yourself a Bad Boy).”  Backed by a six-piece band that freed them up to gyrate in unison, each Boy had his turn in the spotlight with smooth R&B-influenced numbers such as “My Heart Stays with You.”

But the most memorable performance that night belonged to Jimmy Ray. Dressed in black leather pants and a black shirt, the pompadoured guitar-slinger played his own brand of popabilly, best exemplified in his Top 20 hit single, “Are You Jimmy Ray?”

Tall, angular and physically reminiscent of Charlie Sexton, Ray’s overt sexuality seemed to confuse some of the younger girls. But their older sisters understood.

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