A&E

Backstreet Boys bring their magic back to the Las Vegas Strip

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Backstreet Boys perform at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on April 9.
Denise Truscello

It’s rare to see two legacy boy band acts taking over the Strip on the same weekend, but Backstreet Boys and K-pop sensation BTS have proven this town is big enough for both.

Backstreet Boys fans, similar to the BTS Army, traveled from all around the world to watch these pop veterans kick off a new run of their DNA World Tour at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace April 8 and 9, and it’s been a long time coming. The last time the group performed in Vegas was in 2019 during the Larger Than Life residency at Planet Hollywood, which became one of the fastest-selling residency shows in the Strip’s history. Judging by the packed Colosseum, the Boys still had it.

The concert on April 9 was steeped in nostalgia. The Backstreet Boys blew through a wide, varied chunk of their 26-year musical catalog, but happily indulged the crowd with chart-toppers from Millennium and Backstreet Boys, two pop staples that soundtracked much of the '90s. "We're gonna take you down memory lane," singer Brian Littrell promised the crowd. "We're gonna make you feel like you're 12 again." 

And they succeeded. Each member looked in their prime and the group moved as a well-trained unit. During "Incomplete," the Boys took their places behind microphone stands, performing synchronized moves as they harmonized. AJ McLean and Nick Carter stood out in most numbers for their well-preserved vibrato. Carter's high notes on "The Way It Was" had everyone in the venue fanning themselves. 

It's also clear that time hasn't weathered this band's bond. At various moments, Carter and McLean huddled together, singing shoulder-to-shoulder; Carter and Littrell leaned against each other back-to-back; and McLean affectionately wrapped his arms around bandmate Kevin Richardson. McLean and Richardson were especially humorous and comfortable together in one interlude where they got dressed for their next number onstage, with two small dividers obscuring the audience's view.

"Remember back in the day when the ladies used to throw their bras and panties on the stage? I think we need to return the favor," McLean said, just before the duo playfully tossed two pairs of briefs into the GA section. 

It was refreshing to see the band joke with its now adult fans in this way. And more importantly, it gave fans a window into their personalities, beyond just being the '90s heartthrobs that they clearly still are. Another humanizing moment happened during "No Place," as video screens played footage of the Backstreet Boys with their families. It felt touching and personal, a welcome shift in tone. 

The Colosseum served as a remarkable backdrop for all of this, thanks to renovations to the elite space. High energy numbers like the floor-thumping "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" and “We Got It Goin’ On” absolutely thrived in this atmosphere. And the new outstretched LED video walls provided a grand feed of special effects, as dramatic video footage played of each band member in slow motion. It was a feast for the eyes. 

Backstreet Boys clearly haven’t lost their boy band magic. They’ll return on April 15 and 16 for their second weekend of Las Vegas shows before embarking on the rest of their tour. It’s a pleasure to welcome them back, even if it is for a brief time. 

Setlist: 

“I Wanna Be With You”

“The Call” 

“Don’t Want You Back” 

“Nobody Else” 

“Get Down (You’re the One for Me)” 

“Chateau” 

“Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” 

“Incomplete” 

“On Without You” 

“More Than That”

“The Way It Was”

“Chances”

“Shape of My Heart”

“Drowning”

“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”

“The One”

“I Want It That Way”

“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”

“Larger Than Life” (Encore) 

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Amber Sampson

Amber Sampson is a Staff Writer for Las Vegas Weekly. She got her start in journalism as an intern at ...

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