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Concert Review: The Boys are back in town

Backstreet Boys celebrate 20 years of hits at Irvine show. 'In a World Like This,' what's not to love?

September 11, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • The Backstreet Boys perform during the "In A World Like This" tour at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine.
The Backstreet Boys perform during the "In A World… (RHEA MAHBUBANI,…)

Backstreet's back, and the Boys let everybody know it.

The quintet basked in the spotlight Friday during a nearly two-hour concert at Irvine's Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. The performance, met by equal parts screaming and sweating, was part of the group's "In a World Like This" tour, a celebration of their 20th anniversary.

An estimated 16,000 ticket holders poured into the venue in anticipation of seeing the 1990s icons. Not surprisingly, the winding line was filled with teens and their excited, high-pitched chatter. What was unexpected, though, was the sight of middle-aged women and parents, on the arms of their now-grown kids, wearing Backstreet Boys T-shirts.

While some stragglers looked over exorbitant items at snack stalls and added to the queue at the merchandise store, die-hard fans, like myself, made a beeline for their seats, willing time to go faster.

Up first was Baylee, Brian Littrell's young son, who came onstage flanked by his doting parents and treated the half-full auditorium to a few tunes.

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If DJ Pauly D — whose music I've avoided so far thanks to the foul taste created by his appearance on "Jersey Shore" — and Jesse McCartney could have seen me, they might have taken me for their perfect fist-pumping and hooting fan, but the truth was, my mind was backstage with the Boys.

Even as I joined new, equally hyper friends in the rows ahead and behind me, my mind was unable to wrap itself around this moment. For a girl born in a little Indian town, who would climb onto the nearest surface and frolick every time the Backstreet Boys came on MTV, Friday was an out-of-body experience. I remember plastering my walls with their young faces and using No. 2 pencils to wind prized cassettes that, after years of abuse, wheezed their final notes into my decrepit Walkman.

And there I was, on the verge of watching a band that has sold 130 million records worldwide. "How?" I kept wondering.

When my favorite artists climbed upstairs and onto the set to the accompaniment of the "James Bond" theme song, it was as if the proverbial record had skipped to a stop. My hands were frozen on my cheeks as I gave them a glassy, wide-eyed stare.

But when they started out with old favorites like "The Call," "Don't Want You Back" and "Incomplete," I was out of my seat in a jiffy, singing (read: screeching) numbers that I was astounded to recall perfectly.

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