Madeleine Backstreet Boys
MOUNTAIN VIEW — The Backstreet Boys came to town in support of a new album.
Yet, they weren’t about to let that little detail derail the time machine.
“Are you ready to party like it’s 1999 again?” Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson asked the crowd assembled on Sunday night at Shoreline Amphitheatre. “Because we are going to take a trip down Memory Lane.”
And off we zoomed, to a time before One Direction. We went back to the distant days when the Backstreet gang was the world’s top boy band, ruling the charts and capturing millions of hearts. It was a journey to an earlier “Millennium, ” to borrow the title of the Boys’ smash album of 1999.
The 15, 000-plus fans in attendance in Mountain View were absolutely thrilled to be able to roll back the clock and relive the soundtrack to their teen and preteen years. They sang along joyously throughout the two-hour show, especially when it came time to accompany their idols on the ’90s material.
The Orlando vocal group — Richardson, Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough, A.J. McLean and Nick Carter — was in fine form throughout the evening, showcasing the kind of rich harmonies, fun dance moves, sturdy pop songs and undeniable charisma that has made the Backstreet Boys the best-selling boy band of all time.
Wearing slick, matching dark suits, minus ties, the Backstreet Boys entered the multilevel, multicolored stage and opened the show with an anthemic version of “The Call, ” from 2000’s “Black and Blue.” Then they cranked it up a notch for “Don’t Want You Back, ” from “Millennium, ” the top-selling album of 1999. The group also did a super job on the tunes from its latest album, last year’s “In a World Like This.”
Clearly, this group isn’t just getting older — it’s also getting better, which is a very rare occurrence in the boy band world. Of course, this is hardly a band of “boys” anymore. The players now range in age from 34 (Carter) to 42 (Richardson).
The band members joked about the age factor, noting that they no longer sound like “Alvin and the Chipmunks” when they sing. Yet, they proved that they can still hit the high notes when needed — such as on a superb version of their first single, 1995’s “We’ve Got It Goin’ On.”
The harmonies, however, have definitely gotten stronger — at least on the live stage. They’ve always been top-notch on the studio efforts, but I don’t remember them ever sounding better in concert than they did on Sunday.
The harmony vocals were on full display during a wonderful stripped-down, acoustic set that came roughly half way through the show. The five vocalists gathered at center stage, with acoustic guitars and fans seated behind them onstage, and crooned warm renditions of “10, 000 Promises” and “Madeleine.” The Backstreet Boys also added a fine cover of Daft Punk’s Grammy-winning “Get Lucky, ” but the highlight of the acoustic set was the achingly tender and fragile version of “Quit Playing Games (with My Heart), ” one of the greatest ballads of the last 20 years.
The band brought the main set to close in triumphant fashion, performing the excellent title track to “In a World Like This” and then ending with the “Millennium” hit “I Want It That Way.”