Last month, I jumped at the opportunity to shoot a Backstreet Boys show at the Moncton Coliseum. It was a big deal for me, as they were the first concert I ever attended (in 1997 at Halifax’s Metro Centre. Pre-teen me could barely contain her pre-teen joy of seeing her favourite band in the flesh) and they inspired my love for live shows. I also jumped at the opportunity because I knew it was going to be a good concert. I may have stopped being a hardcore fan somewhere around “Black & Blue”, but I had attended their past two shows in New Brunswick (in Moncton in 2008 and Saint John in 2010). I went to their concert in 2008 simply for the nostalgia factor, but walked away with a newfound respect after the stellar show. The main criticism of boybands is that they don’t play instruments, but Backstreet Boys’ use that as a strength. Every minute on stage was spent interacting with the audience (and they even did pick up instruments for a few songs) and they did it while maintaining strong vocals layered over solid dance numbers.
Moncton was the first date of the second leg of their North American tour, In a World Like This, and Backstreet Boys certainly showed their enthusiasm to be back in Canada. Though it was band member Kevin Richardson’s first time in Moncton (he had left the band for a few years and had recently returned), he said that Canada held a special place in the boys’ hearts because it was the first North American country to take notice of the band in the early 1990s. The group then performed “Show ‘Em (What You’re Made Of)” after dedicating it to their children and noted to the crowd that “some of y’all have babies now.”
The setlist was a solid mix of older and newer songs from the group’s discography. They picked up instruments (which they jokingly said they initially learned to play as a form of “Job Insurance”) and put a spin on older songs like “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” and “10,000 Promises” by playing them acoustically. The slowed down songs even had the audience lighting up the Coliseum with phones and lighters. The set also flowed smoothly with videos being shown while the band had costume changes. Things like that really proved the level of professionalism the band has attained. Over the numerous years of performing together, they’ve clearly made note of what works with their concerts and how to improve what doesn’t. And that’s the kind of dedication that will keep me coming back for more.