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March 2nd, 2017

Source: Mashable

After 24 years on the road together, the Backstreet Boys are most assuredly still larger than life, and now they have the residency to prove it.

On the opening night of their 26-show stint at Planet Hollywood’s AXIS auditorium in Las Vegas, the quintet (Nick Carter, Brian Littrell, Kevin Richardson, A. J. McLean and Howie Dorough) powered through an energetic setlist of 20 fan favorites, replete with costume changes, backup dancers and pyrotechnics worthy of an arena tour.

Unlike some other Vegas residencies we could name, the band weren’t content to lip-sync through their hits, belting their signature tunes live and still managing to pull off those chair-swinging “As Long As You Love Me” dance moves like it was 1997 again.

The group kicked things off, fittingly, with “Larger Than Life,” with all five members descending from the ceiling in rotating boxes equipped with strobing spotlights, each dressed in futuristic all-white ensembles reminiscent of their “Millennium” album cover.

They swapped outfits three more times during the show, sporting jazzy sequined blazers for a slower set beginning with “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,” and rugged leather jackets for cockier numbers like “The Call” and “We’ve Got It Goin’ On.”

The evening was designed as a trip down memory lane from top to bottom, featuring musical interludes combining baby pictures of the boys with footage from their early career, much to the delight of the audience.

The selection of songs was satisfyingly eclectic — mixing hits like “Quit Playin’ Games (with My Heart)” and “I Want It That Way” with deeper cuts including “Darlin’,” from their eponymous debut album, and “Black and Blue’s” attitude-filled “Get Another Boyfriend.”

As was to be expected on opening night, the crowd was amped — most of them remaining on their feet for the entirety of the show, even during the slower tracks, but the atmosphere was positively electric when the group disappeared from the stage to pop up amongst the audience for “All I Have to Give,” prompting a near-constant chorus of screams from euphoric fans.

With more than two decades under their belts, the Backstreet Boys know how to work a crowd, and they deployed all their considerable charm with frequent trips out from the main stage onto a runway that curved out into the thick of the audience, even handing out roses, “Bachelor” style, during “Shape of My Heart.”

Five female backing dancers and five men helped to fill the space and distract the audience during the band’s costume changes, but show’s 90-minute run-time felt well-paced overall, and by the time the guys reached their explosive climax with “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” you couldn’t help but feel like you’d been on a journey with these boys — now men.

Luckily, as McLean announced during a raucous afterparty at Chateau nightclub in the neighboring Paris hotel, “We are here to stay,” noting that the band is already at work on a new album and plans are underway for another worldwide tour, in addition to the Vegas residency, which sounds as if it’ll be sticking around long past its initial 26-night engagement.

The band were in high spirits after their triumphant debut, dancing atop Chateau’s booths as Nick Carter led the crowd in renditions of BSB favorites and other hits like DMX’s “Party Up” and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Can’t Stop,” before distributing champagne to eager onlookers.

Even after two decades together, the band remains as united as ever, as illustrated by McLean’s speech as the afterparty got going: “I want to personally thank Nick, Howie, Kevin and Brian, my brothers for 24 years,” he said. “Here’s to 24 more.”

Cheers to that.

Full set list:

Larger Than Life
The One
Get Down (You’re the One for Me)
Quit Playin’ Games (with My Heart)
Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely
I’ll Never Break Your Heart
Anywhere For You
As Long As You Love Me
The Call
We’ve Got It Goin’ On
Get Another Boyfriend
More Than That
All I Have to Give
Shape of My Heart
I Want It That Way
Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)

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