Roughly 15 years ago, I boldly established “the best day of my life.” It was during a meet-and-greet session with the hottest boy band at the peak of their success — yes, I’m talking about the Backstreet Boys.
Along with three of my fellow fanatic friends, we went through a range of emotions during our highly exciting backstage access. One burst into tears soon after the introductions, another gratefully thanked them for their influential and “inspiring” music and I vowed to never wash the clothes I had worn that day. And yes, we’re all highly embarrassed of our antics to this day.
A decade and a half later, I’ve, of course, replaced that established “best day ever” with the day I said, “I do,” the afternoon we brought our playful new pup home and the moment my husband and I found out we would soon become a family of three.
But if I’m being honest with myself, there will always be a soft spot for the 1999 Backstreet Boys concert that set the bar for memorable days to come.
Luckily for me — and thousands of screaming fans in their late 20s to early 30s, we had the pleasure to relive Backstreet’s glory days Tuesday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
“Are you ready to party like it’s 1999?” the newly returned Kevin Richardson asked to the throngs of screaming fans. “We’re going to take you down memory lane, is that OK?”
And down memory lane we went.
For the Boys’ 20th anniversary, they gave their fans a giant serving of nostalgia. Thankfully, the hairstyles and clothing of the early-to-late 90s did not make a reappearance but the dance moves and the recreations of the group’s iconic music videos surely did.
Classic hits like, “As Long As You Love Me,” “We’ve Got It Goin’ On” and “All I Have To Give” were performed as if for the first time — with the energy and excitement of a boy band half their age.
In fact, it seemed besides a little wrinkling around the edges and the fact that most of them are now father figures, the group hadn’t aged at all.
Still, they were the first ones to point out the ridiculousness of being near-40 and up and in a “boy band,” poking fun at themselves during an acoustic interlude in which they *gasp* actually became something of a band.
“What’s happening?” Nick Carter said to the screaming crowd. “Your favorite boy band is actually playing instruments.”
They performed “10,000 Promises,” new song “Madeleine” and “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” to the tunes of their own making.
They introduced several new songs, many inspired by that previously stated parenthood phase, and admitted they won’t be able to crank out the synchronized dance steps forever.
“We’re like wine, we get better with time,” Howie Dorough said. “But we know we’re not going to be able to shake what our mamas gave us for the next 20-30 years.”
Of course, after saying that, his fellow boy band members made him do just that to an impromptu version of Mystikal’s “Shake Ya Ass.”
With the plethora of boy bands that followed, you forget that these now-men were the originators. Aside from the flashy suits, choreographed moves and oodles of heartthrob memorabilia, it’s easy to overlook the fact that this fivesome still has all the voice and talent that propelled them to the status of highest grossing boy band ever.
They saved some of their biggest tunes for the end — closing their set with “I Want It That Way” and returning for a double encore with “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” and “Larger Than Life,” in which they appeared in oversized, custom Minnesota Wild jerseys.
After 21 years of performing together, they clearly understand their fanbase and are able to deliver a packaged performance that’s sure to please — and give us all a reason to, as Carter suggested, act 15 again.
And while the fans have changed just as much as the band has, it seems clear we’re all more than happy to return to the good ol’ days, even if it’s just for the night.