The Backstreet Boys Tuesday night at the Allstate Arena

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
October 6, 1999

Sure, it’s easy to make fun of the Backstreet Boys–especially if you’re over the age of 17. But when things click just so–as they did Tuesday night at the Allstate Arena–the Backstreet Boys prove that they are the kings of the boy bands.

At last year’s concert at the New World Music Theatre, the five-man group from Orlando, Fla., appeared dwarfed by the enormodome and was plagued by off-key harmonies. This time around–in the first of three consecutive, sold-out nights–they owned the Allstate Arena.  And they let the audience know this from the get-go.

As the theme to “Star Wars” blared from the speakers, the Boys made a spectacular entrance … “sailing” through the air on lit-up boogie boards. The high-pitched shrieks escalated and didn’t let up for the remainder of the two-hour concert.

After almost five years of nonstop touring, the Boys show no signs of tiring (or apparent aging) and give fans exactly what they want: some nice songs, a little pyrotechnics and just enough sex appeal to tide them over until they land boyfriends of their own.

And they do sound sincere, promising the girls (’cause let’s face it, the audience was 99 percent female) that everything will be fine “as long as you love me.”

Backed by a nine-piece dance troupe, the Boys mixed the set up with ballads (“Quit Playing Games (With My Heart),” “The Perfect Fan”) and some high-energy numbers (“Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” “Larger Than Life”) that had them shaking their groove thangs. Their choreography has improved, but it just goes to show that all the money in the world can’t buy rhythm.

The editor of a teen magazine once said that the ideal boy band includes at least one hottie, a couple of not-as-cute members whom fans can identify with and, oh yeah, at least one who can really sing. In the Backstreet Boys, tall, blond Nick Carter, 19, is the face, while soft-spoken Brian Littrell, 24, is the voice. (Come to your own conclusions about the others.)

Sure, the Backstreet Boys may have some competition these days from acts such as ’N Sync, 98*, Britney Spears and LFO. But for their diehard fans, no one compares to the Backstreet Boys. As my 10-year-old niece Tabitha pointed out, “Their songs are just better and they have nicer voices.”

The Boys’ phenomenal popularity is evident to anyone who tried to buy tickets to this or any of their other shows. The group’s American tour (of 800,000 tickets) sold out in less than a day. Mining for gold must have been easier.

I pity the parent whose 13-year-old didn’t get one.

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