American Airlines Center – Dallas, TX
Words/Photos By Steven Anthony
When the Backstreet Boys and New Kids On The Block announced they would be touring together, the world’s boy band fans couldn’t believe their ears. Two groups, between them a string of massive hits and over 210 million records sold, touring as one ridiculous headliner.
When the show reached Dallas’ American Airlines Center on June 26, the anticipation was at a fever pitch for those in the crowd. The show got off to a rocky start with underwhelming opening sets by the mostly unknown Ashlyne Huff and former American Idol winner (currently on the “Where are they now?” circuit) Jordin Sparks. Ms. Sparks has a decent voice but the songs are so blah, filled with faux-inspirational lyrics and lazy pop hooks that the crowd just wasn’t feeling it.
Then, at promptly 8:45, nine of the world’s biggest boy band stars appeared, shrouded in smoke and performing a cover of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida”. An odd choice to start the show, but it was over soon enough and the guys: Jordan & Jonathon Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood and Joey McIntyre representing NKOTB and Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, A.J. McLean and Howie Dorough playing for team Backstreet, each paraded down the show’s oddly phallic stage, turning “Viva la Vida” into a mashup of NKOTB’s “Single” and BSB’s “The One”.
Throughout the show, NKOTB and BSB took turns performing sets of their biggest hits, new and old.
On the New Kids front, highlights including “You Got It (The Right Stuff)”, which featured the track’s trademark dance, “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”, which found Jordan Knight nailing his ridiculous falsetto notes and “Tonight”, when the boys (now men) ran through the crowd, each singing to a different section of the arena.
For the Backstreet Boys, the major highlights included “Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely”, which had some great harmony work, “I’ll Never Break Your Heart”, when the guys pulled some lucky women up on stage to be serenaded, and a slick mashup of “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” and Prince’s “Raspberry Beret”, which really took me by surprise. Never imagined Nick Carter would be singing Prince lyrics to an arena in Dallas.
For fans of either of these two groups, this tour is a major deal. Apart from the guys actually coming out into the crowd and interacting with fans that way, they spent the entire evening giving the crowd fan service. Whether it was Nick Carter shaking his ass or Jordan Knight literally singing to a woman while he was hugging her in the stands, the guys seemed more than willing to show the fans how much they have appreciated the support.
At one point in the night, Donnie Wahlberg mentioned how the show may seem like a flashback to 1989 for some in the crowd, before cracking a smile and mentioning that it was “possible” it reminded some others of 1999. The two groups traded playful jabs at each other all evening, and while it was clear by looking at the crowd just who was there for each band, by the end of the night it seemed like the entire crowd was enjoying the music of both.
Towards the end of the show the guys brought up the house lights and took almost 15 minutes to introduce everyone to the crowd, giving each guy on stage time to absorb his own individual applause. They talked about how much fun they were having and came across as a group of really likeable people. While it’s likely they are getting a decent paycheck for this tour, they all seemed to enjoy performing for the crowd and gave some great performances.
At just around 11PM the show came to a close with another huge mashup – the Backstreet Boys performed “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” while NKOTB took on “Hangin’ Tough”, both spliced with sections of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”. It was a bit over the top, but the crowd ate it up and the guys seemed genuinely happy to be performing with each other.
If you’ve ever been a fan of either of these groups, don’t miss this show. They aren’t trying to win over any new fans and at this stage in their careers they are just content with playing for the women (and a few men) who have been supporting them for so long. Ticket prices are decent the two hours go by quickly, like a peak at some of the past few decades’ biggest pop songs. What more could you want as a pop fan?
Setlist: Viva la Vida, Single/The One (NKOTBSB), Summertime (NKOTB), The Call (BSB), Dirty Dancing (NKOTB), Get Down (BSB), You Got It (The Right Stuff) (NKOTB), Larger Than Life (BSB), Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) (NKOTB), Valentine Girl (NKOTB), If You Go Away (NKOTB), Please Don’t Go Girl (NKOTB), Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely (BSB), 10,000 Promises (BSB), I’ll Never Break Your Heart (BSB), Drowning (BSB), Incomplete (BSB), Step By Step (NKOTB), Cover Girl (NKOTB), My Favorite Girl (NKOTB), Games (NKOTB), Tonight (NKOTB), Shape of My Heart (BSB), As Long As You Love Me (BSB), All I Have to Give (BSB), If You Stay (BSB), Raspberry Beret/Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) (BSB), I’ll Be Loving You Forever (NKOTB), I Want It That Way (BSB), Don’t Turn Out the Lights (NKOTBSB), Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)/We Will Rock You/Hangin’ Tough (NKOTBSB)