Nick Carter with Riley Biederer at the Phoenix Concert Theatre

Photographs by Katrina Wong Shue.

While Toronto was busy covering itself in green on Thursday night, a select few opted for red, white, and blue as Nick Carter’s “All American Tour” rolled into the Phoenix Concert Theatre. Opening the night was Atlanta’s talented Riley Biederer. The tour itself stole its name from the Backstreet Boy member’s latest solo album, and certainly didn’t intend to alienate his northern fans. Carter was quick to clarify the name early on in the evening, and in a “salute to the maple leaf,” and a country he holds dear to his heart, changed the lyrics of the song to reflect “All Canadian”.  

It’s Carter’s long and winding career that is easily on display during this tour. Not shying away from his Backstreet Boy roots, many favourite songs are covered from 1997’s “As Long as You Love Me” to “Larger Than Life,” which was obviously a soundtrack to the new millennium. Surprising tracks included “Just Want You to Know” and “Madeline” which the crowd eagerly ate up. It wasn’t just the boy band era that was included, but also the single from Nick & Knight, the power-duo comprised of Nick Carter and New Kids On the Block’s Jordan Knight. The set list also included many of Carter’s previous solo attempts including 2002’s “Help Me”. 

This tour is clearly a love letter from Carter to his fans, many of whom represent his longest running relationship of 24+ years. If anything, the evening had the feel of an inside joke or a predominantly female secret society. Both parties have grown up together from youth through the awkward years (House of Carters anyone?) and now into the era of marriage and families (Carter will become a first-time dad in a matter of weeks). There have been the expected ups and downs, but Nick Carter is clearly on an upswing.

In comparison to Carter’s last tour in 2011 supporting his release I’m Taking Off, this tour is mature and intimate featuring the singer wielding various guitars while backed by a five-piece band throughout the nearly two-hour set. While multiple wardrobe changes still took place, the entire performance was much less choreographed than one would have first expected and featured a wonderful acoustic set including a crowd sing-along of BSB’s “I Want It That Way”. Let’s not go as far as to say that it was completely void of dance moves though; as soon as the singer is found without a guitar it is impossible for him not to bust out a bit of choreography. 

But finally, the reason for this tour was to support the new album All American. The release plays like a guilty pleasure, and is the pop album that Carter was long overdue to release. The tracks are unapologetic poppy, cheeky, and catchy. Ending the set with back-to-back tracks “19 in 99” and “Get Over Me” it’s clear that the majority of the crowd didn’t show up for only a greatest hits show. But on the off-chance that the boy band quota hadn’t been reached, it certainly didn’t hurt to end the night with “Backstreet’s Back” as the encore. 

Thanks to Live Nation Ontario for media access.

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