Last Night: Backstreet Boys at Toyota Center

Choreography is in the Backstreet Boys' DNA
Choreography is in the Backstreet Boys' DNA Photo by Matthew Keever
Backstreet Boys
Toyota Center
August 31, 2019

Had someone suggested in recent years that the Backstreet Boys would be on tour in 2019 supporting a number one album, I would have told them to quit playing games with my heart. But on Saturday night, inside a nearly sold-out Toyota Center, I found myself surrounded by thousands of screaming fans, many of whom were younger than the iconic boy band itself.

Twenty years removed from the height of their career, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, and Brian Littrell have settled into their own little niche. Most boy bands fade away over time as adolescence gives way to manhood - which isn't nearly as charming - but the Backstreet Boys have honed their act over the past two and a half decades, and they seem to have stood the test of time.

And time waits for no man (or boy). The youngest member of the Backstreet Boys is currently 39 years old, and the oldest is a youthful 47. But despite their ages, all five members have preserved their vocal abilities and their dexterity, which is to say that these dads can still dance.

Saturday's performance began with a montage befitting the Backstreet Boys' grandeur. Each member was shown onscreen, making eye contact with the camera before striking a pose and exploding into glitter. After the introduction, the screen was raised and the band launched into "Everyone."

Pivoting into their new material, the Backstreet Boys performed "Nobody Else" and "New Love" from last year's DNA before returning to their older material with "Get Down (You're The One For Me)." For all the new tunes, nearly half of Saturday's set was from the band's self-titled debut and the chart-topping followup Millennium - which moved 11 million units back in 1999 - and the group only performed one song from the two albums recorded without Richardson.

The Backstreet Boys knew what fans wanted to hear, and they were happy to oblige the countless mother-daughter duos and girls-night-out groups in attendance. Around the halfway mark, with plenty of hits still to come, Carter, Dorough, and Littrell disappeared from view, leaving Richardson and McLean onstage by themselves. The two men thanked the audience for their support before stepping behind partitions, changing outfits and throwing their boxers into the crowd. One fan responded in kind by tossing her bra at Littrell, who swung it over his shoulder and told the crowd, "We've still got it!"

Fans certainly bought tickets to hear and sing along to the likes of "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" and "I Want It That Way," but the most heartfelt moment of the evening came during "No Place," one of their latest singles. As the boys sang, a music video displaying each band member with their wives and children played overhead, emphasizing the lyrics, "I've been all around the world, done all there is to do. But you'll always be the home I want to come home to. There ain't no place, ain't no place like you."

When it was all said and done, when the lights stopped flashing and the dancing had stopped, the Backstreet Boys showed the crowd some genuine appreciation Saturday night. Unlike so many nostalgia acts who seem to be going through the motions to make ends meet, the most successful boy band of all time gave the impression that they were honestly grateful to be on tour, performing their hits for longtime and budding fans alike.

Which is great because we wanted it that way.

I Wanna Be With You
The Call
Don't Want You Back
Nobody Else
New Love
Get Down (You're The One For Me)
Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely
More Than That
The Way It Was
Shape Of My Heart
Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)
As Long As You Love Me
No Place
Don't Wanna Lose You Now
I'll Never Break Your Heart
All I Have To Give
Everybody (Backstreet's Back)
We've Got It Goin' On
It's Gotta Be You
That's The Way I Like It
Get Another Boyfriend
I Want It That Way

Don't Go Breaking My Heart
Larger Than Life
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever