If you didn’t know any better, someone would have thought it was 1999 all over again in Las Vegas on Wednesday night — and that is no insult. This time, though, there was no Carson Daly and no TRL, but there was a proper boy band on stage. Six months after announcing they were beginning a 26-show residency at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, the Backstreet Boys took the stage to 4,600 screaming fans. What happened next was a 100-minute trip down memory lane… which was perfect since BSB’s fans, well, want it that way.
What was it like to see boy band royalty inside the Axis theater on opening night of the “Larger Than Life” show? Here are eight takeaways from Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean, and Kevin Richardson first show in Vegas.
Perhaps this is no surprise, but the ratio of male to female was far from even, with women filling up the majority of the seats inside the theater. The group is well aware of its target audience. “How many ladies got a hall pass to spend a night with the Backstreet Boys?” member Nick Carter asked the crowd. “Fellas, who brought a lady so you could get lucky?”
Oldies, but goodies
While leading up to the residency show, the Backstreet Boys promised to harken back to the late ’90s and early 2000s, and they delivered. During the nonstop show, the group chugged along through a 20-song set that centered on the hits. While speaking briefly to the crowd, Howie Dorough called the songs “oldies but goodies.” Most people would say that it was like listening to a Backstreet Boys greatest hits album live. “Hopefully this is the best Las Vegas residency anyone has ever seen,” AJ McLean added.
Who needs costume changes?
Many Vegas acts take pride in their wardrobe — sometimes a little too much pride. The Backstreet Boys had three costume changes (four if you include them taking off their jackets.) By pop music standards, that’s an anomaly. The outfits were nothing outlandish, but, naturally, they allowed plenty of room for the guys to dance, which they did plenty of.
They joined the crowd
Granted, the majority of the time was spent on their multi-colored stage, but the Backstreet Boys were not afraid to mix it up with the crowd. McLean was seen in the aisles during “I Want It That Way. The group also performed “All I Have To Give” from risers in the middle of the theater, and the “cheap seats” became the best in the house for a moment. (Meanwhile, security guards earned their pay by keeping throngs of rushing fans at bay.)
Music video vibes
Remember that 1997 music video for “As Long As You Love Me” when the Backstreet Boys used a folding chair as a prop? Well, the group revived the clip in Vegas, and they got their backup dancers in on the action. The irony: As the Boys sat on chairs, the crowd stood on their feet. Similarly, during “I Want It That Way,” it was hard to find anyone not singing along or standing, making it feel as if you were actually in a music video from the ’90s.
Effects were kept to a minimum
Many Vegas shows rely on lights, pyro and smoke as effects, but not the Backstreet Boys. A large staircase ran the width of the stage but didn’t move. The staircase did have fluorescent lights that constantly changed, as did large monitors mounted on the walls of the theater, but if there was any smoke in the theater, it permeated from the adjacent casino; the only pyro occurred at the very end of the show as the Boys exited the stage.
Fans are rabid
After the show was announced in September, fans scooped up tickets so fast that it set a record for the fastest selling residency show in the city’s modern history. It was the hottest ticket in a city built on entertainment. Some fans, though, weren’t satisfied with just one show. Brian Littrell asked the crowd on Wednesday if anyone had purchased tickets to multiple shows, and many people in the crowd screamed loudly. Considering the hundreds of fans who had lined up outside the theater hours before it even opened it’s doors, they’re probably telling the truth.
Everyone has a favorite Backstreet Boy
During one of the rare costume changes when the group wasn’t on stage, the crowd watched never-before-seen videos of the Backstreet Boys as youngsters. Some of the videos showed them as little kids, while others showed the band playing in small fairs and venues. Each individual member of the group had a dedicated segment. The crowd cheer for their favorite guys. As far as the popularity contest went, it seemed that Nick Carter and AJ McLean were in a dead heat, with the others not far behind.
For more on the Backstreet Boys, see EW’s recent Oral History of the band.
Larger Than Life
I’ll Be The One
Every Time I Close My Eyes
Quit Playing Games With My Heart
Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely
I’ll Never Break Your Heart
Anywhere for You
Back To Your Heart
As Long As You Love Me
We’ve Got It Goin’ On
Get Another Boyfriend
More Than That
All I Have To Give
Shape Of My Heart
I Want It That Way