Photos by Katrina Wong Shue
Back in the 90’s, Backstreet Boys said “as long as there’ll be music, we’ll be comin’ back again”. A decade later, that promise remains to be kept. At the beginning of the year, The Backstreet Boys’ released their tenth studio album DNA which debuted at number one and received much praised from music critics. With the announcement of an upcoming world tour, fans were ready to party like its 1999.
Fans of all generations packed the Scotiabank Arena for a night of celebration. Some wore t-shirts featuring their favourite BSB member while others wore tops that stated “I was supposed to marry a Backstreet Boy”. The feeling around the stadium was electric as we anxiously waited for the arrival of the group. My generation was crazy about the boy band, so I know somewhere inside my younger self was freaking out at possibility of what the heartthrobs had in store.
Backstreet Boys delivered all their hits with pitch perfect harmonies and well synchronized dance moves. Opening strong with “I Wanna Be with You” followed by “The Call”, and “Don’t Want You Back”. Age hasn’t stopped their flow as all five members held their own when performing individual vocals and retro dance routines.
Without a doubt, BSB is very much in Toronto’s DNA. After 26 years, the love Toronto has for the group is still alive. The crowd gather around the stage for a glance or handshake from the guys while others danced and held imaginary microphone to sing along to fan favourites like “As Long as You Love Me”, “Incomplete”, “I Want It That Way” and “Shape of My Heart”. AJ and Kevin got playful when they did an on-stage strip down (behind chest-high booth) during one of their costume changes. The crowd response was palpable as they screamed their heads off.
The appreciation didn’t go unnoticed. Brian, Nick, Kevin, AJ, and Howie throughout the thanked fans for their long-time support as Canada were one of the first places to accept the band. Also they apologized for taking so long to return to the city. Between babies, recording DNA, and their Las Vegas residency, it’s been a lengthy journey. However, they were ecstatic to in the city of champions (reference to the Raptors winning the NBA Finals).
The night went on as the group continued to perform hit after hit from their large catalog. But the moment that stood apart from the rest was their performance of “Breathe” – one of the tracks from their new album. It was pop perfection. The bluesy a capella performance was a testament to the timeless talent that BSB possesses.
They ended with “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and “Larger than Life” while each member wore Raptors jerseys. Before exiting the stage, BSB thanked the fans for bringing that champion feeling and making sure the night was unforgettable.